Quick Guide to Gulls: Laughing Gull

Photo of Laughing Gull (juvenile)

By getting to know Ring-billed, Herring, and Great Black-backed Gulls, you'll be prepared to spot less common species, like this juvenile Laughing Gull, who I spied among the previously mentioned gulls on a Biddeford beach. Though not a rare bird in Maine, Laughing Gulls are uncommon in York county, visiting in small numbers primarily from May through October.

Photo of Laughing Gull (adult in May)

As is typical of gulls, juvenile Laughing Gulls tend to be uniformly brown, whereas adults are dressed to impress. By their 3rd summer, Laughing Gulls have usually attained adult plumage: clean white undersides, gray mantle, black hood with white eye-arcs, and reddish-black bill and legs. The only other hooded gull commonly seen in New England is the smaller Bonaparte's Gull. The two adults pictured here were photographed in May and August, respectively, in Biddeford Pool, Maine.

Photo of Laughing Gull (adult in August)

Learn more about Laughing Gulls, including listening to their laughter and viewing photos of non-breeding birds, over at All About Birds.

Harbor Road Nature Walk (9/4)

Photo of Fish Crow on wire

When: Friday, 9/4/15 (12-1pm)

Where: Wells Harbor Community Park, Harbor Rd., Wells, ME (map)

Join me for a mid-day walk around Wells Harbor Community Park. We’ll explore the late summer landscape to learn about trees, shrubs and wildflowers, and we’ll observe the birds, insects and other creatures who cross our path. Bring along your favorite nature study tools (binoculars, notebook, camera, etc.). This free Lunch & Learn event is offered in conjunction with the Wells Public Library.

Foraging Wild Fruit: Flowering Raspberry

Photo of Flowering Raspberry

At first glance, the showy pink blossoms of Flowering Raspberry (Rubus odoratus) might be mistaken for a Rose (Rosa sp.). This shrub is in the same family (Rosaceae) as Roses, but instead of producing hips, this native produces raspberries. I met Flowering Raspberry back in late June, and when I returned in mid-August to check on the small patch, there were only two fruits ready for tasting (the first one for Jenny, and the second for me). Based on this admittedly small sample, I found the fruit to be sweet, if a bit seedy, with a slightly dry finish. I look forward to sampling a few more, as soon as I find some. (To view the following images in full-size, click here.)

Moths: Primrose Moth

Photo of Primrose Moth

Dawn (who blogs at Things with Wings) has planted a number of search images in my mind over the years, including several this summer of the Primrose Moth (Schinia florida). More than once she's reported finding these pink winged-ones on the (edible) flowers of Common Evening-primrose, where they often rest during the day. Last week, while on a walk in Falmouth, Maine, I scanned a few plants and noticed this moth attempting to go unseen. Thanks, Dawn, for widening my awareness, and perhaps, reader, this post will help to widen yours.

Photo of Primrose Moth

Foraging Wild Fruit: Bristly Blackberry

Photo of Bristly Blackberry

Some species of blackberry produce thick, arching canes covered with stout prickles (see Common Blackberry), while others, like Bristly Blackberry (Rubus hispidus), get by with thinner, ground-hugging stems covered in relatively harmless bristles. The leaves of Bristly Blackberry are evergreen, somewhat shiny, and divided into three (or less commonly five) leaflets. The fruits are edible but tend to be small and slightly bitter, so I don't gather them in quantity. That said, I do find them worth sampling when I encounter them in my travels. Other common names for this woody plant include Bristly Dewberry and Swamp Dewberry. (To view the following images in full-size, click here.)