17.49 | Nature Notes (Dec 3-9)

Photo of Snowy Owl
Snowy Owl | Biddeford Pool, ME | 3 Dec 2017

Highlights of the Week

Jenny and I saw a Snowy Owl hunting alertly from rooftops along Mile Stretch Road in Biddeford Pool.

At the Saco Heath, countless reddish-brown leafy clumps of Leatherleaf are ready for winter.

Our first significant snow (~6") fell on the second half of Saturday.

Wild Edible of the Week

Prior to dinner most days, I enjoyed a bitter cup of Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) leaf tea, often mixed with leaves of Stinging Nettle and Lemon-balm (Melissa officinalis), all of which were purchased dried.

Nature Challenge of the Week (for you, the reader)

Sketch the winter form of a familiar herbaceous plant (e.g., Common Mullein, Common Burdock, Common St. John’s-wort).


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My work as a naturalist is supported by readers like you. To pledge a monthly contribution of $1 or more, please visit Patreon. Thank you!

Sorting Sparrows: Dark-eyed Junco

Photo of Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Juncos sport dark-above, light-below plumage and a light-pink bill, and, even when seen fleetingly as they flush, their flashing white outer tail feathers serve as useful field marks. They breed in forested parts of western and northern New England and during the white season spread throughout our area where they feed in weedy, seed-rich habitats including roadsides, thickets, and fields. Their countershading can make them challenging to spot on dark ground, but a fresh blanket of snow can bring a flock into view.

To learn more about these seed-loving sparrows who'd rather hop than walk, visit All About Birds. To view the following images in full-size, click here.

17.48 | Nature Notes (Nov 26 – Dec 2)

Photo of Long-billed Dowitcher
Long-billed Dowitcher | Biddeford, ME | 28 Nov 2017

Highlights of the Week

On Tuesday, I observed a Long-billed Dowitcher, a White-rumped Sandpiper, and 3 Red Knots along the Basket Island Causeway.

On Friday, I photographed a Killdeer, a Wilson's Snipe, and a Dickcissel continuing at a horse farm in Kennebunkport.

And several days this week, I noticed Striped Skunk tracks in the sand at Hills Beach in Biddeford.

Wild Edible of the Week

I gathered and ate wild Cranberries from a patch that Jenny and I stumbled upon in late September.

Nature Challenge of the Week (for you, the reader)

Observe the sky for 30 minutes before/during/after sunset.


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My work as a naturalist is supported by readers like you. To pledge a monthly contribution of $1 or more, please visit Patreon. Thank you!

Washed Ashore: Soft-shelled Clam

Photo of Soft-shelled Clam

Soft-shelled Clams (Mya arenaria) are among the best known marine mollusks harvested from mud flats throughout New England. Also known as Long-necked or Steamer Clams, these shellfish are food for many species, including Atlantic Moon Snails, Green Crabs, various gulls and diving ducks, certain fish, Northern Raccoons, and, of course, humans.

The two halves of this bivalve's shell are similarly shaped, with the exception of the hinge area. The left valve has a spoon-like shelf, and the right valve has a corresponding groove to accommodate it.

To view the following images in full-size, click here.