Category Archives: Nature Notes

17.43 | Nature Notes (Oct 22-28)

Photo of White-rumped Sandpiper
White-rumped Sandpiper | Biddeford Pool, ME | 28 Oct 2017

Highlights of the Week

Several local Winterberry patches are loaded with red fruit.

I observed 14 species of shorebirds this week, including high counts of ~125 Black-bellied Plover, 6 Semipalmated Plover, 3 Killdeer, 12 Ruddy Turnstone, 35 Red Knot, ~300 Sanderling, ~165 Dunlin, 2 White-rumped Sandpiper, and one each of the following: American Golden-Plover, Purple Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Long-billed Dowitcher, and Greater Yellowlegs.

I successfully twitched a FOY bird species three days in a row: a female Redhead in Bangor, 3 Cattle Egrets in Lamoine, and a red-morph Eastern Screech-Owl at an undisclosed location in southern Maine.

Wild Edible of the Week

I enjoyed Mint (Mentha sp.) leaves both in tea and finely chopped in salads.

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

Take a 30+ minute nature walk and see how many conifer tree species you can find.


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17.42 | Nature Notes (Oct 15-21)

Photo of Sanderlings
Sanderlings | Biddeford, ME | 19 Oct 2017

Highlights of the Week

A friend and I went birding aboard the F/V Nor'easter and observed an assortment of expected seabirds along with the following oddities flying 10 to 20 miles offshore: Greater Yellowlegs, Dark-eyed Junco, Cedar Waxwing, Merlin, and Short-eared Owl (!).

During the same trip to the north end of Jeffreys Ledge, we saw an assortment of whales, including Humpback, Fin, and Minke. I'd guess a minimum of 6 individuals but perhaps many more.

Butterflies continue to fly here along the south coast of Maine. I observed many Monarchs and Painted Ladies, several Common Buckeyes, a Red Admiral, and a Mourning Cloak, among others.

Wild Edible of the Week

I harvested bunches of Common Dandelion leaves from my back yard and added them to soups and salads.

Moon Challenge Report

The New Moon on Thursday marked the end of my Meditation and Gratitude Moon Challenge. Though daily sitting meditation proved difficult to stick with, my nightly gratitude journaling continues.

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

Locate the tracks of at least two mammals in a sandy or muddy place.


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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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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!