Category Archives: Nature Notes

17.41 | Nature Notes (Oct 8-14)

Photo of Nelson's Sparrow
Nelson's Sparrow | Biddeford Pool, ME | 8 Oct 2017

(Birding) Highlights of the Week

I observed 1 Lapland Longspur and numerous Nelson's and Savannah Sparrows in the marsh along Mile Stretch Road in Biddeford Pool.

A friend and I took a 24-hour trip to Aroostook County to look for Barnacle Geese. They proved elusive, but we did see a Greater White-fronted Goose, an immature Snow Goose, and many thousands of Canada Geese.

And, while not exactly a "highlight", we also found a recently struck and killed Long-eared Owl in Fort Fairfield (a species I've only seen alive at a rehab center).

Wild Edible of the Week

Jenny made some delicious jello using the juice of some Fox Grapes that I foraged.

Moon Challenge Report

I completed five morning meditations and five gratitude journal entries for my Meditation and Gratitude Moon Challenge.

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

Locate 5 insect galls (see Insect Sign: Galls for ideas on where to look).


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17.40 | Nature Notes (Oct 1-7)

Photo of Butterflies on New England American-aster
Monarchs and Painted Ladies on New England American-aster | Monhegan Island, ME | 6 Oct 2017

Highlights of the Week

During a whale watch trip out of Boothbay Harbor, I observed a swarm of seabirds, including numerous Northern Fulmars and Great Shearwaters, feeding alongside a pod of Atlantic White-sided Dolphins.

In five hours on Monhegan Island, two other birders and I tallied nearly 60 species of birds (including 10 types of sparrows) and observed oodles of Painted Lady and Monarch butterflies. The butterflies seemed especially attracted to patches of New England American-aster.

I twitched a Red-headed Woodpecker (FOY) at Timber Point in Biddeford and a Connecticut Warbler (Lifer!) at a private yard in Newcastle, and I spotted my FOY Yellow-breasted Chat at East Point Sanctuary in Biddeford Pool.

Wild Edible of the Week

I ate fillets of Cusk (Brosme brosme) from a fish I caught earlier this year aboard the F/V Nor'easter.

Moon Challenge Report

I missed one morning of meditation but otherwise continued with my Meditation and Gratitude Moon Challenge.

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

Find, feel, and photograph/sketch moss growing on or at the base of a tree.


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17.38 | Nature Notes (Sep 17-23)

Photo of American Dagger Moth caterpillar
American Dagger Moth caterpillar | Biddeford, ME | 22 Sep 2017

Highlights of the Week

I saw my first ever pod of Pilot Whales during Maine Audubon's Bar Harbor Pelagic trip. Spotting pelagic birds (the focus of the trip) was a real challenge given the dense fog, but we were treated to good looks at a Northern Fulmar and many Red Phalaropes and Leach's Storm-Petrels in Canadian waters south of Grand Manan Island.

Jenny and I each witnessed an American Dagger Moth (Acronicta americana) caterpillar at about the same time on Friday morning though we were a few miles apart. (Note: Their hairs can be irritating, so if you find one, it's best to look but not touch.)

And, thanks to the spotting of another birder, I was able to see a Lark Sparrow (the first I've seen since January 3rd) near Hills Beach in Biddeford.

Wild Edible of the Week

I enjoyed a fresh fillet of Haddock from a fish I caught on my last deep sea fishing trip. Technically, I ate the fillet last Saturday, but I'm calling that close enough.

Moon Challenge Report

On the New Moon (Wednesday), I began a Meditation and Gratitude Moon Challenge. I'm starting each day with 10+ minutes of sitting meditation and ending each day by writing a gratitude journal entry.

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

With the help of Newcomb's Wildflower Guide or another trusted resource, identify 3 types of goldenrod (or aster or any wildflowers) currently flowering near you.


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17.37 | Nature Notes (Sep 10-16)

Highlights of the Week

Blood Milkwort (Polygala sanguinea), Narrow-leaved Gentian (Gentiana linearis), White Goldenrod (Solidago bicolor), Flax-leaved Stiff-aster, and Tall White-aster (Doellingeria umbellatus) flowering.

I spent a day out at sea on a fishing boat. Thick fog made spotting birds nearly impossible (I was able to identify just a handful of Wilson's Storm-Petrels, a few Northern Gannets, and small numbers of Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls), so I turned my efforts to catching fish for my freezer. I took home over ten pounds of Pollock fillets.

I saw a very rare and extremely long-tailed Fork-tailed Flycatcher (Lifer!) discovered by another birder at Gilsland Farm in Falmouth.

Wild Edible of the Week

I gathered fruits of Black Elderberry, some of which Jenny processed into a nutritious wild fruit jello.

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

Sit under an Oak (Quercus sp.) tree (with a hat on) and observe for 20+ minutes.


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17.36 | Nature Notes (Sep 3-9)

Photo of Rainbow over Stage Island
Rainbow over Stage Island | Biddeford, ME | 9 Sep 2017

Highlights of the Week

Throughout the week, I observed 19 species of shorebirds including 1 Buff-breasted Sandpiper (FOY), 1 Dunlin, 2 Western Sandpipers, 6 Stilt Sandpipers, and 33 Red Knots.

I observed the following ducks at the Sanford Lagoons: Wood Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Mallard, American Black Duck, Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, and Hooded Merganser.

Much needed rain fueled a flush of Fly Agaric mushrooms under Eastern White Pines near my home.

Wild Edible of the Week

I sampled ripe and not-quite-ripe fruits from several feral Apple trees.

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

Embark on a 30-minute (or longer) mushroom mission in a wooded location. How many different kinds can you find?


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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!