Wildlife in Maine’s Acadia National Park: Bring Your Binoculars!

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Aug 142013

Eight guests had signed up for an exclusive “cooking adventure” at Ann’s Point Inn in Bass Harbor, Maine.  Working alongside Chef James Lindquist of Red Sky Restaurant, they were preparing the evening’s menu:  dumplings filled with just-picked mushrooms, steamed clams and mussels over freshly made pasta, halibut with a triple citrus beurre blanc, and lobster steamed in seawater and seaweed collected outside the inn.  After Chef Lindquist deboned and skinned the halibut, he suggested they lay the skin out on a large rock near the shoreline.  As if on cue, a majestic eagle swooped down to participate in the enjoyment of the evening’s delicacies – ensuring this “cooking adventure” was worthy of its name.

The eagles you see on your next trip to Acadia National Park may not be quite this “up close and personal,” but, if you plan your itinerary to prioritize wildlife viewing, you are likely to bring back photos—and memories—of eagles and much more.  Acadia National Park protects over 40,000 acres on the beautiful and remote destination of Mount Desert Island, thus preserving the homes and habitats of dazzling birds, mammals, and other wildlife.

Don’t leave home without your binoculars.  Considered one of the premier bird-watching areas in the country, Acadia has logged a record of 338 bird species, according to the National Park Service. Twenty-three species of warblers alone have been recorded as breeding in the park!

Eagle sightings have been common on the kayaking trips in Frenchman Bay and boat cruises to Frenchboro that I’ve taken during trips to Acadia National Park.  In addition, when we kayak in Somes Sound, we paddle to a spot where we regularly see eagles.

bald eagle acadia national park

Peregrine falcons are also an important species on the list. In the 1980s, Acadia National Park participated in a cooperative management plan to restore this endangered species.  Today, when you scan the sky near the Precipice or Beech Cliffs, you can see the recovered peregrines diving to attack prey at a wondrous speed that can approach miles per hour.

You’ll spot cormorants, terns, and loons, too.  As we were biking on our way from Eagle Lake to Witch Hole Pond, we spotted this majestic Great Blue Heron atop a beaver lodge.

great blue heron acadia national park


Ranger-led bird walks take place between late spring and mid-fall.  In addition, volunteers join the National Park Service in the fall to count the migrating hawks.

Acadia National Park hawk watch

Seals and harbor porpoises are also common sightings on boat excursions around Acadia.  You’re likely to see both harbor seals, as well as grey seals in the Gulf of Maine.

seals gulf of maine

One morning, as we crossed the sandbar between Bar Harbor and Bar Island, we spotted this lost seal pup, which was ultimately rescued thanks to the College of the Atlantic’s program dedicated to marine animal preservation.

harbor seal bar harbor maine


As exciting as it is to encounter a seal pup, you should never underestimate the appeal of a marsh full of frogs to a child.

Eagle Lake Acadia National Park

child with frog

And a boat cruise to retrieve wonders of the deep may end up intriguing not only children, but hard-to-impress adolescents.

sea star diver ed cruise bar harbor

rachel lauderBefore we leave this topic, we return to Ann’s Point Inn, the site of the epicurean eagle, to answer the question, “How likely is it that we will see a moose on a visit to Acadia National Park?”  According to the National Park Service, they do exist in the park, but are rarely seen.  However, one morning guests looked out on the same shoreline where the eagle had landed to see this interloper.

moose bass harbor acadia

Related Stories:

Great Itineraries for Three Days, One Week, and Two Weeks in Acadia National Park

5 Tips if You Want to See a Glorious Sunrise from Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park


My Favorite Links This Week

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Apr 072013


While this week brought news about more political corruption in New York, weakening chances of gun legislation passing, and increasing tensions in Korea, my inbox – and mailbox – also offered signs of hope from individuals and organizations committed to land conservation.  Here are some of my favorites.


National Park List

2012 Statistics Reveal Top 10 Visited National Park Service Sites

Visits to our national parks increased by more than three million last year.  Acadia National Park ranked ninth, with over 2.4 million visitors.  See what other parks are on the top 10 list.



gift_package_imgFrom Green Gifts Purveyor: Into the Trees 

This charming children’s book written by Mike Aaron and illustrated by Baby Einstein artist Nadeem Zaidi tells the story of a child’s walk in the woods as the impetus for an ongoing relationship with nature.  Buy alone or as part of gift set.





Stone on Stone – A Natural and Social History of Cairns

In an article published by the Appalachian Mountain Club, Michael Gaige reveals the history of the unique Bates cairns that dot Cadillac Mountain and other bald summits in Acadia National Park, as well as some contemporary problems in cairn management facing national parks.





Maine Land Conservation Conference 2013

The conference, which will be held on April 26th in Brunswick and April 27th in Topsham, provides a forum for learning about the most pressing issues facing land conservation today.




I’m a New Yorker with Nature Deficit Disorder. The Antidote? Acadia National Park in Maine.

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Dec 052010

Last week Jane Brody’s “Personal Health” column in the New York Times encouraged us to “head out for a daily dose of green space.”  

It was as if she had seen me that morning, lingering on the way to the subway to talk to the guy planting bulbs which will emerge as glorious tulips next May. 

Just that thought picked up my spirits, as does my three-block walk to the subway.  The sky, fresh air, and trees are in short supply during my days at this time of year.  I need that walk. 

In a wonderful article in Psychology Today about green exercise, Alan Fogel explains why, “There is something unique about being outside, even without exercising, that brings us back to present moment of feelings and sensations, to our body sense. Outside, it is somehow easier to shed the ruminative thoughts and worries, the inner dialogues and routine mental ruts, and just feel our bodies in concert with nature.”

So, “addiction” probably is the right word to explain the urgent need I feel to get to Acadia National Park at least two or three times a year.

According to Jane Brody, national parks are a big part of the prescription that a growing network of physicians, health insurers, naturalists and government agencies are giving for benefits that go beyond those of exercise in a gym. 

Alan Fogel explains the science, “…Outdoor exercise restores us by bringing us back to ourselves…Sensing into our bodies in the present moment activates neural networks that enhance self-regulation, reduce stress hormones, and boost immune system function. Our brain has a few rudimentary tools for doing this job of self maintenance…But when we pay attention to our bodies directly, without thought or judgment, we can substantially amplify the brain’s power to heal ourselves.” 

I’m going to keep reading to find out why even pictures of Acadia make me feel better.