Coastal Nature Tour: Biddeford Pool (7/3)

Photo of Beach Rose blossoms

When: Sunday, July 3rd from 3-5pm (weather permitting)

Where: Biddeford Pool -- exact meeting location sent upon registration

What: We'll explore a portion of the Biddeford Pool coastline, stopping to meet some plants, birds, seaweeds, and shells along the way. This workshop is for adults. Bring along a notebook, a camera, and all of your senses. Plan for 2 full hours in the field.

Cost: $20. Limited to 10 participants.

Registration: Email josh(at)joshfecteau(dot)com by 5pm Friday (7/1) to reserve your spot.

To find out about my other upcoming workshops, click here.

16.20 | Nature Notes (Jun 15-21)

Photo of Spruce Grouse
Spruce Grouse | Sandy River Plantation, ME | 17 Jun 2016

Here are some nature notes from around York County, Maine:

Highlights from travels elsewhere in Maine and New Hampshire included:

  • 1 Spruce Grouse (Lifer!), 1 Black-backed Woodpecker, 4 Yellow-bellied Flycatchers, 2 Boreal Chickadees, 4 Bicknell's Thrushes (Lifer!), 9+ Swainson's Thrushes, 16+ Blackpoll Warblers, 1 Fox Sparrow, and more along Saddleback Mountain Trail, Sandy River Plantation, ME [details/photos on my eBird checklist]
  • Cushion-plant (Diapensia lapponica) and Alpine Blueberry (Vaccinium uliginosum) flowering at summit of Saddleback Mountain
  • Mourning Warbler (Lifer!) just below the summit of Quill Hill, Dallas Plantation, ME
  • 2 Mississippi Kites flying over Piscassic St. boat launch, Newmarket, NH

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

Tiny Flowers: Red Sand-spurry

Photo of Red Sand-spurry

Red Sand-spurry (Spergularia rubra) is a tiny annual or perennial of disturbed ground. I most often notice this plant growing on the soft shoulder of roads or even in the cracks of pavement, in sandy soil that receives plenty of sunlight, where few other plants thrive. Though native to parts of Europe, Red Sand-spurry now grows on every continent, with the exception of Antarctica.

Photo of Red Sand-spurry leaves

The stems, flowers, and fruits of Red Sand-spurry are covered with short, glandular hairs, and the narrow, less than 1" long leaves are bristle-tipped. The 5-parted flowers are about 1/4" wide and have sepals slightly longer than the pink petals. As is the case with many tiny flowers, a hand lens, binoculars used in reverse, or macro photography allows for fuller appreciation of these details.

Photo of Red Sand-spurry flower and buds

P.S. Today is the official first day of summer. Happy Summer Solstice!

Sorting Sparrows: Clay-colored Sparrow

Photo of Clay-colored Sparrow

The vast majority of Clay-colored Sparrows spend their summers in shrubby grasslands in central Canada and the central northern United States. But every year, birders spot a small number of Clay-colored Sparrows in suitable habitat right here in New England. Visiting the Kennebunk Plains -- a managed grassland habitat kept open by periodic burning -- is perhaps your best chance to observe one summering in Maine.* Thanks to several local birders who shared their sightings via eBird, I was able to locate and photograph this bird last week.

Clay-colored Sparrows sing buzzy, insect-like songs that can be challenging to pick out, especially if the bird isn't close. Here's a sample:

While I did hear some buzzy phrases shortly after arriving at the previously reported spot, much of the time the bird gave only simple chip notes. At one point, the sparrow perched in a short Pin Cherry and preened, allowing me to note many of the field marks of this species: gray nape, pale lores, white (central) and brown (median) crown stripes, dark malar stripe, unmarked chest, and relatively long, notched tail. To learn more about Clay-colored Sparrows, visit All About Birds.

Photo of Clay-colored Sparrow

*I'm not sure if Clay-colored Sparrows have bred successfully at the Kennebunk Plains, but the site is known for a variety of grassland specialists who do, like Savannah, Field, Vesper, and Grasshopper Sparrows, Upland Sandpiper, Eastern Meadowlark and Bobolink.