17.03 | Nature Notes (Jan 15-21)

Photo of Great Gray Owl
Great Gray Owl | Milford, ME | 21 Jan 2017

Highlights of the Week

An adult male Northern Harrier was the star of the bird walk I led in Wells Harbor. We observed the raptor (who was initially spotted by a sharp walk participant) hunting over the dunes on Drakes Island. Northern Harriers are uncommon along the Maine coast in winter.

I traveled to Milford, ME to see my first ever Great Gray Owl, a rare visitor from forests to our north and west. While outweighed by Great Horned Owls and Snowy Owls, Great Gray Owls are the largest North American owl by length.

In nearby Old Town and Orono, I saw large flocks of American Robins and Bohemian Waxwings and several small flocks of Pine Grosbeaks eating Crab Apples and other persisting fleshy fruit. In Kennebunk, I bumped into a flock of Cedar Waxwings.

Wild Edible of the Week

I enjoyed three cups of Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea) tea this week. For each cup, I gathered two hand-sized branchlets and stripped off the needles and end buds, which I then rubbed between my hands to help release their essence. Then, I placed the needles and buds in a tea strainer inside a mug, filled the mug with boiling water, covered, and steeped for 7 minutes.

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

Spend half an hour listening for owls. If you're not sure where to hear owls, try visiting a large field, marsh, or bog, either after 6pm or before 5am.


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