Category Archives: Nature Notes

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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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.


 

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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!

17.18 | 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.


 

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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!

17.17 | Nature Notes (Apr 23-29)

Photo of Hooded Warbler
Hooded Warbler | Biddeford, ME | 28 Apr 2017

Highlights of the Week

Pickerel Frogs and American Toads began to vocalize in wetlands.

At Pond Cove in Cape Elizabeth, I observed a White-eyed Vireo* (FOY), as well as a male Common Yellowthroat (FOY), 9 Laughing Gulls (FOY), 2 Iceland Gulls, and many more birds.

Behind the Pelreco Building in Scarborough, Jenny and I saw 6 Blue-winged Teal* (FOY), 10 Least Sandpipers (FOY), 1 Snowy Egret x Tricolored Heron* (a really neat bird), and many more birds.

York County FOY birds included Eastern Whip-poor-will, Black-throated Green Warbler, Willet, King Rail*, Ovenbird, Upland Sandpiper, Black-and-White Warbler, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Gray Catbird, Northern Waterthrush, Cliff Swallow, Lesser Yellowlegs, Solitary Sandpiper, a rare Hooded Warbler*, and a Green Heron. And in Pittsfield, ME, Jenny and I briefly observed a male Eurasian Wigeon* (FOY).

*first located by other birders and subsequently seen by me

Wild Edible of the Week

I flavored several meals this week with the garlicky leaves of Wild Leek.

Moon Challenge Report

I ended my Early Bird Moon Challenge with the pre-dawn song of an Eastern Whip-poor-will.

Thanks to the comments of a reader, for my next moon challenge I'm placing some attention on finding and photographing spring ephemerals (i.e., perennial plants who emerge, bloom, and typically wither away early in the green season, prior to canopy trees' leafing out). Because I'll be busy birding and teaching this moon, I'm not sure how many plants I'll seek out, but I'll continue with weekly updates.

Jenny ended her Sunrise Moon Challenge by enjoying 3 more sunrises! And, this week, Jenny began an eBird Moon Challenge. She's aiming to submit 12+ complete eBird checklists (at least 4 without me!). She submitted her first three (shared) checklists on Saturday.

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

Spot a basking Painted Turtle.


 

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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!

17.16 | Nature Notes (Apr 16-22)

Photo of Killdeer and Tree Swallows
Killdeer and Tree Swallows | Sanford, ME | 18 Apr 2017

Highlights of the Week

Flowering: Red and Silver Maple trees, Shepherd's-purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris), Coltsfoot, Spring Whitlow-mustard, and Hairy Bitter-cress.

I hit the road this week to see three rare birds found by other birders: Vermilion Flycatcher, Fieldfare (while looking for this bird, another birder pointed out my FOY Blue-headed Vireo), and Tricolored Heron (FOY). The first were Life Birds for me, and were featured on a front page article (Double Rarity Has Birders Flying High) in a local paper and in an online version titled Birdwatchers abuzz at 2 rare sightings in 3 days. You'll recognize at least one birder mentioned in the piece.

Other FOY bird sightings were Brown Thrasher, Barn Swallow, Bank Swallow, Virginia Rail, and Sora.

Wild Edible of the Week

I enjoyed the fleshy leaves and slightly sweet bulbs of American Trout-lily, both raw and cooked -- my first wild vegetables of spring!

Moon Challenge Report

I got up and outside before sunrise on 2 days this week.

Jenny enjoyed 5 sunrises this week, including an Easter sunrise at the ocean. On one of her early morning walks, she ended with an amazing hour-long visit with a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers.

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

Eat one leaf or flower of Common Dandelion every day. If you're not a forager (yet), simply observe a Common Dandelion plant every day.


 

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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!