Washed Ashore: Atlantic Dulse

Photo of Atlantic Dulse

On the beaches I frequent in southern Maine, I occasionally find clumps of Atlantic Dulse (Palmaria palmata) standing in color-contrast to the majority of wave-tossed algae.  Much more commonly, I find pieces of Knotted Wrack, Bladder Wrack, Irish Moss, and various Kelps — none of which have the rich red color of Atlantic Dulse.  The blades of this alga can be eaten fresh (when found alive), and dried pieces can be lightly toasted for a fine, salty treat.

Quiz #97: Bird

Who carved the holes in this Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)?  The top hole measures roughly 7″ X 3″.

Photo of Quiz #97: Bird

(Photographed in Wells, ME.)

A. Downy Woodpecker

B. Hairy Woodpecker

C. Northern Flicker

D. Pileated Woodpecker

E. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

When ready, scroll down for the answer…

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These sizable holes were made by a Pileated Woodpecker.  Among New England woodpeckers, the Pileated Woodpecker is the largest, nearly the size of an American Crow.  Have you ever seen one of these birds?  Share your comments below.

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Josh’s Foraging Tip #2

Be Willing to Try a New Food More Than Once

Photo of Black ChokeberryI don’t know about you, but in my experience trying a new food isn’t always love at first bite. Sometimes I have to taste a wild plant, or a cultivated plant for that matter, several times before my taste buds adjust.  And other times I simply need to locate a better-tasting sample.

For example, as I wrote about last year, I have tasted the fruit of Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa, pictured here) many times and found it hardly worth swallowing. Then, last summer, I found a delicious crop of juicy fruit and proceeded to gather several pounds.  What I didn’t eat fresh over the next few days, I stashed in my freezer to enjoy over the coming months.  The fruit of Black Chokeberry is one food I’m glad I didn’t give up on after my first few tastes.

Have you had a similar experience with a new food?  Share your stories in the comments below.

This post is part of a series of tips for foragers of wild plant foods.  For my core gathering practices, see Josh’s Guidelines for Foraging.

Shorebirds: Piping Plover

Photo of Piping Plover

Piping Plovers are on the short list of birds who nest directly on the sand of New England beaches.  Given the high human traffic on most beaches during their breeding season and the outright loss of habitat due to shoreline reshaping, it’s a wonder that some of these tiny shorebirds manage to eke out a living and successfully raise young each year.  Maine Audubon reports that in the entire state of Maine in 2013 there were only 44 nesting pairs, not all of whom fledged young.  Please take care when sharing the beach with these threatened creatures.

–> Event Notice: On Sunday, April 27, 2014, I’m leading a free bird walk at Emmons Preserve in Kennebunkport, ME.  (We won’t see Piping Plovers at this inland location, but we will observe a variety of songbirds.)

Quiz #96: Mammal

A friend of mine noticed this mammal hide-out in the center of a cluster of tree trunks just off trail at a local conservation property.  Given the clues present in the area, who would you say has spent time here?

Photo of Quiz #96: Mammal

Here’s a closer look at some of the clues.

Photo of Quiz #96: Mammal

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This is the den of a North American Porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum).  The trunk on the left is hollow at the base and has scat spilling out into the center area.  Several quills are also visible.

I invite you to support Josh’s Journal by sharing this or any other post with friends, by leaving a comment below, or by making a donation. Thank you for reading!