Friday, June 29, 2012

Puffin Watch Cruise

Atlantic white-sided dolphins in Muscongus Bay
Atlantic white-sided dolphins

Headed out on a gorgeous summer night to see puffins with the Audubon naturalist on the Hardy III out of New Harbor. The boat leaves every evening at 5:30 PM. The captain does several slow loops around Eastern Egg Rock and there is plenty to see! We were sighting puffins gliding low, almost touching the water, as they headed out to fish and then flew back in with their catch. 

The dolphins above followed the boat for awhile and then headed back out to sea. The naturalist on board said he had never seen this type of dolphin in Muscongus Bay. It was a rare sighting and very exciting for everyone. There were 3-4 separate groups with 5-12 individuals in each group. They larked around, disappearing as we got close to them and then reappearing to chase the boat's wake.

I had to wedge myself between the seats and the boat to steady myself enough to get even this photo.

black guillemots
Black guillemots
On Eastern Egg Rock itself were hundreds of black guillemots, terns, gulls and puffins. These black guillemots were sunning themselves in the last evening rays. We saw eider ducklings in the water, terns zipping around everywhere, laughing gulls and cormorants.

naturalist bird blind
Naturalist in blind

Every summer naturalists come to the 'island' (all 7 acres of it) to study the nesting and feeding habits of the migratory birds. If you've got a sharp eye, you can spy out a naturalist hiding on one of the blinds. This one is surrounded by terns. The puffins nest in caves in the rocks. This blind is overlooking a series of puffin nests. As they fly in with a beakful of herring, the puffins land on the rocks and then scramble down into the nest cave.

In case you were wondering- the birds stop chattering around 11 PM and start back up around 4 AM. The naturalists sleep with ear plugs! They mentioned the sound of the bird droppings hitting the tents is quite loud.

Muscongus Bay lobster buoys
Lobster buoys in Muscongus Bay at New Harbor, Maine
Everywhere we went in the bay were hundreds of lobster buoys marking the traps where tonight's dinner was waiting to be hauled up! It is a wonderful ride out onto the bay. The scenery is fantastic. Monhegan Island is off in the distance and the Camden Hills are visible to the west.

Eastern Egg Rock puffin
The star of the show- the puffin!
I did get one photo of a puffin in the water. They are fast in flight and I am slow with the camera! My good fortune was this one just hanging out. The water is a deep, vibrant blue. Wonderfully relaxing!

Besides the birds and the dolphins, we also saw harbor seals. Whales have also been spotted on the cruise. But, it's all nature so no guarantees you're going to see the same thing someone else saw!

When you go, here are some helpful hints from yours truly- 
  • Bring a jacket, you may not need it at first but you will if the sun isn't shining right on you. 
  • Bring binoculars, it would have been a lot easier for me to see the birds with binocs. (Which I should have learned from the raptor watch on Bradbury Mountain!)
  • You really need a 400mm+ lens for closeups. The boat rocks quite a bit so bring along someone who can hang onto you while you take the photos!
  • Parking is a 1/4 mile walk from the dock, so plan ahead.You MUST park at the ballfield so if someone has a problem walking, drop them off and go back to park the car.
  • It takes a solid hour to drive from here to New Harbor. It will take longer when it's high summer.
  • Conditions on the bay vary. It was pretty calm when I went out but there were still waves and bumpiness.
  • Sit topside either port or starboard. You get the best view that way! It is not easy to stand while the boat is underway.
  • Drinks and snacks are available on the boat and you can have dinner at Shaw's when you get back.
  • There are bathrooms on the boat.
  • Reservations needed! Here's the website for Hardy Cruises.
As always, you can click each photo above and make it larger.

For more information about puffins, check out Project Puffin. For a seasonally available puffin cam, check out the puffin loafing ledge.

White Cedar Inn Bed and Breakfast 178 Main St Freeport, Maine 04032

Monday, June 25, 2012

Driving Bailey Island

Cribstone Bridge Bailey Island
Cribstone Bridge Bailey Island, Maine

Sometime during your stay in Freeport you'll have to take a drive to Land's End on Bailey Island. There are multiple opportunities for taking great seascape photos, eating lobster and fudge, hiking and finding Maine-made tchotchkes.

Giants stairs Bailey Island Maine
Giant's Stairs.
Try a short walk along the cliffs at the Giant's Stairs.

Stop in at Cook's Lobster House for dinner or Giant's Steps Seafood Grill for lunch.

lobster roll at Cooks Lobster
Oh yum! Lobster roll!

Drive along Rt 24 checking out the byways and discovering secluded coves.

Mackerel Cove Bailey Island Maine
Mackerel Cove
At Land's End, stop in for some fudge and a peek thru the viewfinder.

Halfway Rock Lighthouse
Halfway Rock

Head back to Freeport at sunset, relaxed and refreshed from your scenic drive.

Sunset on Orrs Island
Sunset on Orr's Island.
White Cedar Inn Bed and Breakfast 178 Main St Freeport, Maine 04032

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Feathers over Freeport

white cedar inn osprey watch
Osprey on nest

Freeport's new annual birding event, Feathers over Freeport, happens the last weekend in April. 2012 was the second year the event brought in birders from all over the Freeport area, Maine, New England and beyond.

Each year an intern spends 2 months (from March to May) tabulating the number of migratory raptors that use the corridor along which sits Bradbury Mountain.

For one weekend, birders of all stripes flock to the summit of Bradbury Mountain to count along with the intern.

white cedar inn bradbury mountain
Sighting raptors on Bradbury Mountain.

Even if you think you might not have what it takes to be a birder, getting out for a day on the mountain and a walk around Wolfe Neck Park is a fun way to spend the weekend.

feldspar quarry bradbury mountain
Feldspar quarry at Bradbury Mountain.

There are guided walks, eagle-spotting on Bradbury Mountain, osprey watches at Wolfe Neck Woods, events for children and more. In 2012, Wind over Wings had a raptor demonstration which was very well attended.All of the birds they bring with them are rescue birds which may or may not be able to rehabilitate to the wild. The golden eagle below was shot through the wing and does not have the ability to fly well enough to feed itself in the wild.

American kestral
American kestral.Weighs about as much as a US quarter coin.

golden eagle
Golden eagle.

read tailed hawk
Red tailed hawk.

So, mark your calendars for next year and head on up to Maine the last weekend in April for Feathers over Freeport! Stay with us and we'll give you a free day pass for either Bradbury Mountain or Wolfe Neck Woods.

casco bay from bradbury mountain
Casco Bay from the top of Bradbury Mountain. With binoculars you can see Halfway Rock lighthouse!
For more information about the events, please check the Freeport Wild Bird Supply website.

White Cedar Inn Bed and Breakfast 178 Main St Freeport, Maine 04032

LL Bean 100th Anniversary Hometown Celebration

LL Bean store in Freeport Maine
LL Bean 100th Anniversary Celebration

Wow! What a line up for LL Bean's 100th Anniversary Hometown Celebration! July 4-7, 2012.

Wednesday July 4:
  • Traditional July 4th Pancake Breakfast at St Jude's from 7-10 AM
  • Annual LL Bean July 4th 10k and family fun run 7:30 AM
  • Olympic gold medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson shows off her collection of running awards garnered in Freeport throughout the years.
  • Annual Freeport July 4th parade along Main St starts at 10 AM 
  • Ellis Paul at Discovery Park in the afternoon
  • Jo Dee Messina at 7:30 PM in Discovery Park
  • NO Fireworks tonight. Fireworks on July 7
Thursday July 5:
  • Outdoor Discovery schools are all free today!
  • Red Sox team member Rico Petrocelli and the Green Monster will be on hand from 5-9 PM.
  • Jazz music at Discovery Park in the evening (no time specified)
Friday July 6:
  • Olympic gold medalist Seth Wescott joins LL Bean at Morse St School for a day of field games for kids
  • Freeport Farmers Market Noon-5 PM
  • Maine Academy of Modern Music bands, Jason Spooner and others provide music from 2-9 PM
Saturday July 7:
  • Morse Street School fields will be set up with fun activities for kids from 10 AM - 5 PM
  • Crafts and food booths will be set up ON Main St 10 AM - 5 PM
  • Chris Isaak at 7:30 PM at Discovery Park
  • Fireworks after concert

Parking and driving on July 7- Nathan Nye Dr, parts of Main St and Bow St will be closed to vehicular traffic to allow a 'street fair' atmosphere on July 7! In addition to regular parking lots and the parking garage, a shuttle bus will also bring you from the LL Bean offices to downtown every 30 minutes.

To avoid downtown closures, use I-295 Exit 22 if you are going north of Freeport and I-295 Exit 20 if you are going south of Freeport instead of driving on Main St/Rt 1 on July 7.

Don't forget that in honor of LL Bean's commitment to the discovery of outdoor adventure we are giving away a free day use car pass to our guests who stay with us from July 3 through July 7. Hope to see you here during this big celebration!

LL Bean boot at Freeport Maine store
Bean boot
Traffic patterns for July 7 Celebration
Note the map above...RED areas are closed to vehicular traffic on July 7.

White Cedar Inn Bed and Breakfast 178 Main St Freeport, Maine 04032

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Chocolate panna cotta

chocolate panna cotta
Chocolate panna cotta

I am forthwith ceasing to apologize for making incredibly easy, very yummy starters for breakfast! Once again, fresh triumphs over boxed or canned or store bought. Afraid of panna cotta because of the name? How about pudding? Does that scare you off? Thought not. And that's exactly what panna cotta is- pudding.

So, dive in...

Ingredients- makes 8 generous servings.

4 cups heavy cream (can use milk if you don't have heavy cream)
1/2 c sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 packets of powdered gelatin
6 tbsp cold water
9 ozs of semi-sweet mini chocolate chips (the remaining 3 ozs can be sprinkled on top before serving)
whipped cream


Put cold water in a large bowl. (All of the mixture will be poured into this bowl after heating.) Sprinkle gelatin over the surface of the water. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat cream and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Do NOT boil! Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract and semi-sweet chips. Whisk until completely melted. (This whole process is less than 5 minutes.)

Pour warm chocolate mixture over gelatin in bowl. Mix until gelatin is dissolved. (Gelatin will have gelled- go figure!- so this process melts the gelatin and incorporates it into the panna cotta mixture.)

Pour into 8 serving bowls or ramekins. Refrigerate until cooled and completely set. About 2 hours.

Top with whipped cream and semi-sweet mini chips and serve. Can also be topped with fresh berries. Or all of the above.

The panna cotta can also be left 'plain' with no chocolate flavor added (perish the thought!) and then topped with a berry sauce. For a fancier serving, use a flavorless oil to coat the serving dishes you pour the warm panna cotta into and unmold onto dessert plates before serving. Then top with your sauce. (To unmold- run a sharp knife around the edge of the dish and invert onto the serving plate.)

Fear not the panna cotta! It's pudding in Italian clothing.

Other flavors to mix in? Butterscotch chips, berry puree, different extracts instead of vanilla. The options are as varied as your imagination!

Vanilla panna cotta (tastes like ice cream!)- leave out the chocolate chips.

pumpkin panna cotta
Pumpkin panna cotta (panna cotta di zucca)- leave out the chocolate chips and vanilla. Add 1- 15 oz can of pie pumpkin and 1 tsp of pumpkin pie seasoning, blend until smooth before pouring into dessert cups.

Printable recipe here

White Cedar Inn Bed and Breakfast 178 Main St Freeport, Maine 04032