17.12 | Nature Notes (Mar 18-25)

Photo of Eastern Bluebird
Eastern Bluebird (female) | Biddeford, ME | 19 Mar 2017

Highlights of the Week

On Tuesday, several vocal American Crows alerted me to the presence of a Great Horned Owl roosting near the public beach in Biddeford Pool.

On Thursday, an adult male Canvasback was found by another birder on Etherington Pond in Biddeford and subsequently seen by myself and many other people, over the next few days. Canvasbacks are rare migrants in Maine -- it'd been three years since I'd last seen one.

My first of year sightings included 2 Rusty Blackbirds in Cape Elizabeth, an American Kestrel in Kennebunkport, an adult Greater White-fronted Goose in Wells, 4+ Fish Crows in Biddeford, and a Painted Turtle sunning on a log at the edge of a pond in Biddeford.

Wild Edible of the Week

Overnight in a slow cooker, I simmered small pieces of Chaga (from my pantry) in a combination of water and Red Maple sap. The resulting dark brew was enjoyed several times by Jenny and me.

Moon Challenge Report

I concluded my Bird Call Moon by recording 5 more species: American Crow, Northern Cardinal, Rusty Blackbird, and Yellow-rumped Warbler (link to audio); and Fish Crow (link to audio).

Tonight marks the start of my next moon challenge. During my Early Bird Moon, I'll get outside before the sun rises (on a majority of mornings) to take in the sounds of spring, and I'll keep a running list of all the birds, frogs, and mammals who I hear during the challenge.

Jenny will also be starting a moon challenge tonight. During her Sunrise Moon, she'll get outdoors to watch 12+ sunrises (with 4+ at the ocean).

Will you be joining us with a moon challenge of your own?

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

Spend 10+ minutes listening near moving water (e.g., ocean, river, stream). Optional: Close your eyes while listening.


 

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Low Tide Life: Atlantic Plate Limpet

Photo of Atlantic Plate Limpet

Along the New England coastline, the only limpet who spends time in the intertidal zone is the Atlantic Plate Limpet (Testudinalia testudinalis). Also known as Tortoiseshell Limpets, these marine snails are typically no more than an inch long, so spotting them requires up close exploration.

Photo of Atlantic Plate Limpet

I've occasionally encountered them while winkling at low tide in and around rocky tide pools. These snails prey on red algae; Atlantic Dogwinkles are among their predators.

Photo of Atlantic Plate Limpet

17.11 | Nature Notes (Mar 12-18)

Photo of Killdeer
Killdeer | Fortunes Rocks Beach, Biddeford, ME | 17 Mar 2017

Highlights of the Week

This week's widespread refreeze concentrated ducks along open rivers. On a section of the Saco River between Biddeford and Saco, I observed 37 Wood Ducks and ~525 Mallards -- both high counts for me at a single location in Maine.

Though earlier sightings of Killdeer have been in snow-free farm fields, this week the only Killdeer I observed were at the snow-free coastline, on sand and feeding among the wrack at Fortunes Rocks Beach in Biddeford.

FOY bird sightings were limited to an unexpected early Hermit Thrush spotted while driving and a Sharp-shinned Hawk hunting near the bird feeders at Emmons Preserve.

Wild Edible of the Week

Utilizing Choke Cherry fruits from my freezer, I enjoyed pink Choke Cherry juice and jello several times this week.

Moon Challenge Report

Despite many windy days, I recorded the calls of 4 more bird species: Cedar Waxwing (link to audio); and European Starling, Red-winged Blackbird, and Killdeer (link to audio).

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

On a clear or mostly clear morning, get outside early to witness sunrise.


 

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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!

Josh’s Foraging Tip #7

Make It a Habit

A practice I've taken on in 2017 is to focus on one wild edible each week. During the week, I typically consult various written and online resources and visit a local patch that can tolerate (or, better yet, benefit from) light collection. I then properly prepare (if needed) and consume the food at least three times (when possible), and complete my week by writing about my experience in my weekly Nature Notes.

Photo of Collecting Red Maple sap
Red Maple sap collection

If one of your goals is to improve your wild food foraging skill set, consider taking on a similar practice. If you're not 100% confident in your plant identification skills, you may wish to skip the actual sampling for now and simply locate and properly identify one species each week and consult some reliable references, as training for future harvests. If you're ready for sampling, you could commit to adding a wild component to your diet every week, every day, or every meal. (With the green season just around the corner, now is also a great time to plan a Wild Food Moon Challenge.)

By adopting a wild food habit, you can kick-start or reinvigorate your adventures as a modern forager.