Category Archives: Nature Notes

17.24 | Nature Notes (Jun 11-17)

Photo of Snowy Plover (left) and Piping Plover
Snowy Plover (left) and Piping Plover | Georgetown, ME | 13 Jun 2017

Highlights of the Week

Early in the week, I twitched three very rare birds (meaning I observed birds found and reported by other birders). On Monday, I traveled to Windham, NH to see the state's first Brown Booby (a tropical seabird). That evening, I witnessed a Magnificent Frigatebird (another tropical seabird) flying off Prout's Neck in Scarborough, ME. Then, on Tuesday, a first for the state of Maine Snowy Plover at Reid State Park in Georgetown was my third Life Bird in 30 hours! And two days later, I heard my FOY Yellow-billed Cuckoos at the Brownfield Bog.

I saw a few female Snapping Turtles traveling to/from their nesting sites.

I identified my first-ever Red-bellied Snake (Storeria occipitomaculata) in Kennebunkport. Unfortunately, the slim creature was found dead on a roadside.

Wild Edible of the Week

I ate a number of clusters of Black Locust flowers, in salads, soups, and simply fresh off the tree.

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

Stop and smell the wild roses (or other fragrant flowers).


 

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17.23 | Nature Notes (Jun 4-10)

Photo of Spruce Grouse
Spruce Grouse | Roque Bluffs, ME | 4 Jun 2017

Highlights of the Week

Mouse-ear Hawkweed (Hieracium pilosella) -- a carpet-forming species native to Europe -- and other related yellow-flowered Hawkweeds are blooming in nutrient-poor lawns.

I crossed paths with many butterflies, including Canadian Tiger Swallowtails, an Eastern Comma, and many tiny, mostly unidentified, skippers.

I observed 4 species of ducklings (Wood Duck, Hooded Merganser, Mallard, and American Black Duck) at the Sanford Lagoons. My only FOY bird sighting was a male Spruce Grouse seen during an Acadia Birding Festival van trip.

Wild Edible of the Week

I added immature pollen cones of Eastern White Pine to several of my meals this week. I also gathered extra to put up in my freezer, some of which will be tinctured.

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

Identify (using Newcomb's Wildflower Guide or some other resource) 3 herbaceous wildflowers who have yellow flowers.


 

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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!

17.22 | Nature Notes (May 28 – Jun 3)

Photo of Big-toothed Poplar seeds

Highlights of the Week

Most evergreen trees have pushed out (or are in the process of pushing out) new light-green growth. The feel of the soft branch tips of some species (like Balsam Fir, American Larch, and the Norway Spruce in my backyard) reminds me of Koosh balls.

Countless, fluffy seeds of Big-toothed and Quaking Poplars fall like spring snowflakes from tree tops.

I saw or heard a handful of FOY birds in my travels, including: Olive-sided Flycatcher and Saltmarsh Sparrow in York County; Mourning Warbler, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Bicknell's Thrush, and Black-backed Woodpecker in Franklin County; and Atlantic Puffin and Arctic Tern at Petit Manan Island in Washington County.

Wild Edible of the Week

I ate about a dozen peeled Curly Dock shoots.

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

Visit a local wetland to find at least 2 dragonfly species.


 

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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!

17.21 | Nature Notes (May 21-27)

Photo of Dreamy Duskywing
Dreamy Duskywing | Hollis, ME | 27 May 2017

Highlights of the Week

I recorded Clay-colored Sparrows (FOY) singing at the Kennebunk Plains, and a Nelson's Sparrow (FOY) and a Marsh Wren singing at Laudholm Farm in Wells.

I hiked Saddleback Mountain (elevation 4,120') with a friend. We covered about 12 miles (round-trip) of the Appalachian Trail (accomplishing one of my 2017 goals) and along the way encountered persisting patches of snow. On the drive home, we stopped to see Black Terns (FOY) in Belgrade.

At the bountifully buggy Brownfield Bog, I heard 2 Yellow-throated Vireos (FOY), as well as 7 types of flycatchers, a grunting Virginia Rail, and 2+ winnowing Wilson's Snipe.

Wild Edible of the Week

I consumed Common Dandelion taproots three ways -- as vinegar (that had been infused with chopped, dried taproots for a couple of weeks), as tincture (prepared months ago), and as chopped, first-year taproots (freshly dug) in soup.

Moon Challenge Report

I capped off my Spring Ephemeral Moon Challenge with an AT hike (see above) featuring hundreds of blooming Red and Painted Wakerobins (Trillium erectum and T. undulatum, respectively). I have no challenge planned for the current moon cycle.

Jenny submitted one more complete eBird checklist (on her own) to finish out her eBird Moon Challenge!

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

Locate (and be careful not to disturb) 2 active bird nests.


 

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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!

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.


 

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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!