Nature: Bears on parade



Travels this past month have taken me to beyond the tree line in Labrador and it was a dramatic change of scenery as we drove southward into the colorful fall foliage in Quebec and then Maine. Yellows and reds seemed to dominate and the landscape was very beautiful. Here on Mount Desert Island it is a splendid show of fall colors.

On my first night out after returning, a friend and I headed for Bar Harbor and got to see the unusual and handsome piebald deer feeding alongside the road just outside of Somesville. There is no mistaking this deer for it is white with splotches of brownish or black here and there on its body. Otherwise it is a white-tailed deer in what is called the piebald phase. Scientific authorities say this is caused by overpopulation in the deer herd.

We certainly do have an overpopulation of white-tailed deer since there are few predators large enough to kill an adult deer. Coyotes do kill some young ones but the herd is much too large for its own good and health.

I saw a Facebook posting of a pileated woodpecker on this island eating crabapples in a tree. This bird is so flamboyant in its looks and actions in addition to its large size and red crest that you can’t miss it when it is near.

This woodpecker was formally called a bird of the wilderness and never came near houses and people. But this beautiful, large woodpecker adapted to towns, yards and human activities and is now regularly seen in towns and villages seemingly oblivious to all human activity. It is often seen in all parts of MDI. The ivory-billed woodpecker, a wilderness bird in the south is now considered extinct by most authorities

After the recent wild seas and crashing waves long the shores of this island it is the perfect time to walk the shores and see what the sea has left for you to find. All sorts of creatures are possible. It’s prime time for beach walkers! Sorting through the flotsam and jetsam can be an adventure.

While on my recent adventure to Labrador, my daughter and I had two great evenings watching three black bears come to feast at a remote town dump. Naturalists are apt to do odd things for adventure when visiting a new area. We got to the dump too early one day and after a couple of hours decided nothing was coming and we started to leave. We had only gone a short way down the dirt road when I spotted a black bear crossing the road and disappearing into the woods headed for the dump’s offerings. We quickly reversed our direction and picked a good viewing spot … A few pickup trucks came and went and then there was a pause.

Suddenly up over the pile of trash a black bear appeared in good view and surveyed the sea of delights in front of him. He moved along the trash looking as he went. Another bear soon appeared a few yards back of him and they slowly moved along looking for tasty treats. Not long after another bear appeared so we had three in view all at once. They seemed to be young bears.

We sat that watching them for a long time as they sniffed the bags, poked their heads in and munched away on goodies. There were two restaurants in the town and a bakery, so they probably checked the dump every day. Fisherman and local residents also brought their trash here. The bears seemed to know which location in which to find the best edible trash. At one point my daughter used my roof window as a camera blind to get a good view and have a quick retreat if the bears came too close. I got a nice photo of one of the bears standing up tall on its hind legs looking out over the dump. They look quite big when they do this.

The bears stayed a couple of hours than disappeared back into the woods. We were in a small village almost as far north as you can go in a car at this point in Labrador.

We stayed at a small hotel where we discovered from the owner that President Bush had stayed when he went fishing up there. He really knew how to get away from it all! The hotel owner told us that he ran out of socks while there and the secret service had to go out and buy new ones in the general store. They all liked him there.

Send any questions, observations or photographs to teahousetrio@wildblue.net or call 244-3742.

Ruth Grierson

Ruth Grierson

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Send any questions or observations to teahousetrio@wildblue.net or call 244-3742.
Ruth Grierson

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