Trip report part 2: Moose

by John Briggs on July 23, 2009

in Blog, Wildlife

Moose along roadside near Wilsons Mill's, Maine

Moose along roadside near Wilson's Mills, Maine

One of the reason we vacationed in northern Maine were the prospects of discovering Moose as Sharon has never seen one in the wild. Spring and fall are the best times for viewing Moose in the region, but I figured with very wet and cool weather from the end of May through the beginning of July we should still be able to find them.

Arriving at our cottage on the first day around 3:00 p.m., we unloaded the car and relaxed for a bit. The owner told us that a large male Moose was seen behind the cottages a few days before and a Black Bear had been visiting at night. That sounded great and Sharon was ecstatic.

As it approached 5 p.m., we had a plan. Head into Errol, NH for dinner and then travel some of the roads in the area and look for mud holes where Moose like to frequent. Morning and evening are the best times to find these creatures foraging.

After dinner, we took Route 26 southeast toward the Maine state line. Umbagog State Park lies all along the east side of the road with Umbagog Lake straddling the state line. The road traverses over ridges and through small valleys.

A few miles outside of Errol, I turned onto a dirt logging road and engaged the 4-wheel drive. We traveled slowly looking for signs that Moose are in the area. Swampy areas were our best bet and this area was loaded with them. Mud holes that had been trampled and hoof prints in the mud were everywhere. Suddenly, I spied a huge bull about 25 yards off the road in a low spot. I continued down the road, turned around, and very slowly made my way toward the spot where I saw the Moose.

Bull Moose hidden in brush

Bull Moose hidden in brush

There he was, a huge rack atop his head and walking toward the brush. Too late for a good photo, but Sharon got to see her first Moose. She was ecstatic! It amazes me how these large creatures can seemingly disappear when they are no longer out in the open. It is the reason that there are so many collisions with vehicles. When a Moose steps out of the thick woods onto a roadway, it’s so sudden without any warning what-so-ever. In this part of the world you better pay attention to what you are doing and do not speed! Especially at night. Hitting one of these 1,000 pound animals can be deadly.

Look at the photo above. If you are traveling at a good clip you will never see it until it is too late. As I said in the previous post, the woods in this region are incredibly thick. 5 to 10 feet in you see nothing but underbrush, trees and darkness. Believe me, there were times when a Moose was not more than 20 feet away and I never knew it until it walked out into the open.

We saw Moose every evening while in the region, altogether 11 individuals. A young one was seen one morning on our way to Mount Washington. To find them we had to be patient and go off onto the logging roads, some of which were barely passable.

Here are some facts about Moose.

Life span: 15-25 years

Male moose weigh about 1200-1500 pounds

Female moose weigh more than 900 pounds

Newborns are about 33 pounds and will be 300-400 pounds by its first winter

Average Body length: about 8.5 feet

Average Height: 6-7 feet at the shoulders

Moose have very poor eyesight but their hearing and sense of smell are excellent

Only the males have antlers, massive flattened ones averaging 5.5 feet across and 40 pounds in weight. These antlers have as many as 30 tines or spikes, the shape differing from animal to animal.

These photos were taken in both Maine and New Hampshire. As always clicking a thumbnail will open a shadowbox with a larger view.

The final post on our trip will be Friday and will feature beautiful landscape photographs from northern Maine and New Hampshire.

Happy birding!



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