17.20 | Nature Notes (May 14-20)

Photo of Painted Bunting
Painted Bunting | Palermo, ME | 18 May 2017

Highlights of the Week

The loud flight calls of Common and Least Terns are once again familiar sounds at many coastal locations.

FOY birds here in southern Maine included Roseate Tern, Caspian Tern, Red-eyed Vireo, Wilson's Warbler, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Swainson's Thrush, Alder Flycatcher, Red Knot, Blackpoll Warbler, Canada Warbler, Willow Flycatcher, Philadelphia Vireo, Bay-breasted Warbler*, and Common Nighthawk.

Rare bird sightings included a Wilson's Phalarope (FOY) found by a friend at a farm pond in Clinton, an adult male Painted Bunting (Lifer!) visiting feeders at a home in Palermo, and a Pacific Loon (FOY) found by another friend off Fortunes Rocks Beach in Biddeford. Thanks to the prompt sharing by finders of these birds, I was able to see all three on the days they were found.

*first located by another birder and subsequently seen by me

Wild Edible of the Week

I enjoyed three servings of Bracken Fern (Pteridium aquilinum) shoots. For each, I gathered about a dozen flexible young shoots, washed them, and boiled them for 10 minutes, discarding the cooking water.

Moon Challenge Report

Birding was my almost total focus this week (I bet you're shocked), though I took a few minutes to photograph Sessile-leaved Bellwort (Uvularia sessilifolia) for my Spring Ephemeral Moon Challenge. I need to step up my game next week.

Jenny submitted 4 complete eBird checklists (including 1 on her own).

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

Spot at least 2 types of butterflies.


 

Patreon logo

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!

17.19 | Nature Notes (May 7-13)

Photo of Red Wakerobin
Red Wakerobin | Limington, ME | 12 May 2017

Highlights of the Week

The landscape greened up with each rain event and dose of spring sun. Noticeable in my travels were blooming Shadbush trees, leafed-out Quaking Poplars, and fields filled with flowers of Common Dandelion.

FOY birds here in southern Maine included Chimney Swift, Semipalmated Plover, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Lincoln's Sparrow, Common Tern, American Bittern, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Wood Thrush, Ring-necked Pheasant, Warbling Vireo, Eastern Kingbird, Semipalmated Sandpiper, White-rumped Sandpiper, Grasshopper Sparrow, Blackburnian Warbler, Orchard Oriole, Blue-winged Warbler, and Least Tern.

Sightings of uncommon/rare birds included: A female (or immature male) Blue Grosbeak (found by Jenny) and 2 Red Crossbills at Goose Rocks Beach in Kennebunkport; 2 Thick-billed Murres (an unusual sighting for mid-May) off Parsons Way, K'port; and a White-eyed Vireo in Biddeford Pool.

Wild Edible of the Week

I added the flowers and leaves of Wooly Blue Violet (Viola sororia) to several of my salads.

Moon Challenge Report

I tracked down a few spring ephemerals, including flowering Dwarf Ginseng (Panax trifolius) and Red Wakerobin (Trillium erectum), and soon-to-flower Painted Wakerobin (T. undulatum).

Jenny submitted 4 complete eBird checklists (including one on her own).

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

Go on a warbler walk. Check with your local birding club, land trust, or Audubon chapter to see if there are any guided bird walks offered near you, or attend one of mine.


 

Patreon logo

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!

17.18 | Nature Notes (Apr 30 – May 6)

Photo of Blue Grosbeak
Blue Grosbeak | Biddeford Pool, ME | 4 May 2017

Highlights of the Week

The flowers of Coltsfoot have gone to seed, and green leaves have appeared beside them. Garlic-mustard, Violets, and Gill-over-the-ground started flowering.

A number of warblers are now back on territory in local woodlands and wetlands, including Ovenbirds, Pine Warblers, Black-throated Green Warblers, Black-and-white Warblers, Common Yellowthroats, Yellow Warblers, and more. (To meet some of them, join me for a KCT Spring Bird Walk this week or next!)

FOY birds here in southern Maine included Short-billed Dowitcher, House Wren, Prairie Warbler, Blue Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, American Redstart, Yellow Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, Bobolink, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Northern Parula, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Veery, Marsh Wren, Great Crested Flycatcher, White-crowned Sparrow, Nashville Warbler, Baltimore Oriole, and Least Flycatcher.

Wild Edible of the Week

I consumed several servings of cooked Garden Yellow-rocket tops -- typically boiling them for 2-3 minutes and discarding the cooking water.

Moon Challenge Report

My Spring Ephemeral Moon Challenge is off to a slow start. I noticed American Trout-lily and Wood Windflower (Anemone quinquefolia) blooming abundantly this week, but I didn't spend time photographing them.

Jenny submitted 8 complete eBird checklists (including one without me)!

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

Locate 3 herbaceous wildflowers who have white flowers. And, if you don't already know their names, identify them with the help of Newcomb's Wildflower Guide or the Simple Key at Go Botany.


 

Patreon logo

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!

Late Spring Blogging Schedule

Photo of Prairie Warbler

I've decided to modify my blog posting schedule for the remainder of spring in order to focus my efforts on birding, foraging, and teaching birding and foraging. I'll continue to publish my weekly Nature Notes, but don't expect regular posts on Wednesdays and Fridays until mid-June.

If you need some inspiration in the meantime, check out my New England Wild Edibles Monthly Guide, or browse my blog's complete index which includes 34 Life List Bird Games and 175 Nature Quizzes. Also, consider attending one of my upcoming walks or talks or hiring me for a private birding outing or foraging lesson!

Enjoy Spring!

Foraging Wild Flowers: Common Dandelion

Photo of Common Dandelion flower

Common Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) offers many gifts to the modern forager. In April and May, the flower buds and brightly blooming flowers are a delicious snack, salad ingredient, or soup component. The flowers can also be infused to make a delicious tea.

Photo of Common Dandelion flower

I've written previously about foraging the leaves of Common Dandelion, but for those new to eating wild plants, it's the mild tasting yellow petals that I find make the best introduction. To avoid the bitterness that the green parts contain, simply loosen and remove the yellow petals by rolling each flower head between your thumb and pointer finger.

Photo of Common Dandelion flower

Note: You may notice an increased need to urinate soon after consuming Common Dandelion parts. Consult an herbalist or herbal reference for more on the medicinal actions of this abundant perennial.