June 17 – 23, 2016 Vol. 18, No. 2


Summertime in the Belgrades

June 17 – 23

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Summer's In Full Swing

Five birdwatchers in a boat on Lake Messalonskee.

by Pete Kallin

Summer seems to be in full swing, with long lines at Day's Store and more out-of-state license plates than Maine plates on the cars parked in the village. The BRCA Courtesy Boat Inspectors (CBIs) have been on duty for a couple of weeks already at the seven public boat launches in the Belgrades, doing their part to prevent the spread of invasive plants into our lakes. Last year, these CBIs inspected over 12,000 boats between Memorial Day and Labor Day and made multiple "saves."

This past week has seen a mixture of weather, some hot, some cool, some wind and finally, a bit of much needed rain. It has been rewarding to see so many people using some of the local hiking trails. My wife and I hiked French Mountain to check on the fire damage and ran into several groups out hiking, including Sasha, her aptly named son, Roman (with the accent on the second syllable), and her friend, Courtney. They live in Rome in Wildwood Estates. Roman reminded me of a young girl, perhaps a year older, whom I met hiking with her mother and grandmother on Mt. Phillip in March. When I asked her how she was doing, she told me her job was "to find the blue clues." She was already learning to look for the blue blazes on the trees that marked the trail. I have a feeling she will grow up very comfortable in the outdoors.

Sasha, Roman, and Courtney on French Mountain.

As the weather has warmed, the trout and salmon have headed for deeper water while the bass, sunfish, and landlocked alewives have headed for shallower water. I went fishing with my friend Matt Scott recently, and as we were headed down the lake I was telling him how I liked to look for schools of alewives at the surface being chased by bigger fish from underneath. I then cast to the action with a white zonker fly that looks like a small alewife and often connect with a nice bass or brown trout. I suddenly spotted just such a school about 40 ft. to starboard and reflexively jerked the throttle back, nearly dumping Matt out of his seat. After apologizing for not giving him any warning, we began casting and connecting with fish.

Meanwhile, another group of outdoor enthusiasts took part in a birdwatching expedition sponsored by the Maine Lakes Resource Center (MLRC), aboard the Maine Lakes Society's (MLS) 30-ft. pontoon boat, the Melinda Ann. With help from expert birders, Louis Bevier, Don Mairs, and Logan Parker (who supplied the birding pictures) they cruised the lower end of Messalonskee Marsh and spotted 37 different species of birds, including sandhill cranes with chicks, endangered black terns, bald eagles, and nesting loons. Check the MLRC webpage or Facebook page for future trips.

Matt Scott holding a bass.

On Sunday, June 26, at 2 p.m., Mel Croft and I will be leading a hike on BRCA's Mountain property to show how the Belgrade Lakes region has changed over the past 200 million years. Mel will discuss how plate tectonics and various ice ages sculpted the basic landscape over the past 199.985 million years. I will then talk a bit about how the bare rocks and lakes containing lifeless, melted ice water evolved in the past 15,000 years or so since the last ice age to become the forested landscape and lakes teeming with life that we have today. This is always a popular hike so please call the BRCA office at 495-6039 to register so we can call you if there are any schedule changes. Check their website for the latest schedule. In the meantime, take a kid fishing, hiking, or paddling.

Pete Kallin is a past director of the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance.