I was just thinking a few days ago that it had been a long time since I had seen a moose. So, of course it caught my attention when the newsman on the tv in the other room announced that a moose was stranded on an island in the Androscoggin River between Brunswick and Topsham. This I had to check out!
I grabbed my camera, and my rain gear (yes, the monsoon that is “Summer 2009 in Maine” continues) and headed off.
When I first got there all that was visible were two dark brown spots–his ears. Apparently the moose had been feeding earlier (when the TV folks got their photo), but now he was frustrating all the curious onlookers by taking a rest.
(I say “he” because it appears the moose had the beginnings of some antlers.)
For the next hour and a half that’s about all there was to see: two dark ears sticking out of the foliage. And, a bit of a traffic jam on the adjacent bridge.
Every now and then the ears would twitch and the crowd would twitter (in the old fashioned sense.)
The ones of us who stuck it out in the rain eventually got our payoff. The moose got to his feet, grazed on more foliage, explored the island, and the most exciting part was when he considered an escape via the Androscoggin. He entered the water, swam out a bit, but then he returned to the island.
The water in this area, coming off the dam, is very fast, and that’s probably what chased him back to the island. He was lying back down and night was falling when I decided to call it a wrap.
The story, found here is my source for information (other than what I witnessed in person), with one correction: The moose is not visible from U.S. Route 1. Route 1 runs alongside the Androscoggin River for maybe a mile, but the restored Cabot Mill, now known as the Fort Andross office and retail complex, blocks all view of the island from Route 1. The bridge for Maine Route 24, however, offers a great view of the island and even has a pedestrian walkway, which provides a safe spot for moose watching. I took most of these images from the bridge’s pedestrian walkway where you see these folks standing.
Wildlife officials were guessing he went over the dam immediately above the island; he doesn’t appear to have sustained any injury from the wild ride.
Moose are common in Northern and Western Maine, but not so common in Southern Maine, despite the fact that the first moose I saw after moving to Maine was only a few miles away, in Topsham. Intent on photographing moose, I had enthusiastically purchased Bill Silliker’s Maine Moose Watchers Guide and I had doggedly pursued the beast, making several trips to Moosehead Lake with the book on the passenger’s seat of the car. I followed all the tips, but each time came home with no moose pictures.
Months later, on assignment for the Bangor Daily New, I was on my way to Brunswick to photograph the annual Memorial Day parade when I spotted a moose in a clearing alongside the Topsham exit from Interstate 295. All that work I’d done to find a moose, and instead I just had to wait for the moose to find me.
Which I guess goes to show that while we may not have a lot of moose in the Brunswick area, our moose apparently aren’t as elusive as their Moosehead Lake cousins.
Wildlife officials estimate there is enough foliage on the island to sustain the moose for two weeks, and they say they aren’t making plans at this point to remove him. So, grab your camera, your binoculars and your kids, and drive over to the Androscoggin for Maine Moose Watching at its easiest.
P.S. Visit the Times Record online for their poll on what the moose should be named.