- Do you offer indoor presentations?
- Do you work with children?
- Is it okay if I copy and post one of your photographs or blog posts on another website or on social media?
- I see that you lead wild edible plant walks. Do you also lead mushroom walks?
- What does it mean to twitch a bird? Do you twitch?
- Do you recommend removing "invasive species"?
While my walks and talks are generally for adults, interested children are often welcome to attend events with their parents or caregivers. Feel free to contact me to find out if a specific event would be appropriate for your child to attend.
If you'd like to use any of my photos or writings, please contact me first and request permission. I'm often willing to share my work, but taking my photos or writings without permission (even if you link to my site and credit me as the source) is a copyright infringement.
While it's true that I forage a small selection of edible and medicinal mushrooms for personal use (and have written about a few here), I'm not knowledgeable enough to teach mushroom identification and foraging.
If you're excited about mushrooms (and who isn't?), I recommend you attend a foray hosted by some fungi specialists. The Maine Mycological Association offers forays near me, and there are other mushroom clubs throughout the northeast.
Great question! Twitching (also called bird chasing) means observing birds, typically uncommon and rare species, found and reported by other birders. Some birders twitch on a grand scale, taking spur-of-the-moment flights to seek out new species thousands of miles from home. I twitch on a more local scale, focusing the majority of my bird seeking in York County, Maine, with less frequent wanderings around the state (usually the southern half).
Twitching has introduced me to a number of species and therefore increased my chances of finding them again on my own. And, through twitching, I've explored birdy spots (and towns) I'd never otherwise visit and met an eclectic bunch of birders who share my passion for the winged ones.
I want very much to encourage native species, but the reality is that much of New England is home to countless non-native plants, birds, fish, mollusks, insects, earthworms, etc. Many of these species have been here for hundreds of years and are now widely established. Certainly there is no way we can remove all of these "invaders".
The term invasive species is one I typically avoid. Rather than placing the blame on certain species, I think we need to examine the underlying issues -- like road building, agriculture, and modern "development" -- which disrupt native communities and allow for the introduction and establishment of foreign species well adapted to disturbance. In many instances, I find that so-called invasive species are simply filling a niche and attempting to repair depleted soil or an injured landscape.
For example, after soil disturbance Japanese Barberry can move in and, at times, out-compete native flora. But the shrub offers gifts, including nectar and fruits for various wildlife, and roots with medicinal uses for humans.
I also like what permaculturist Toby Hemenway has to say on the topic:
"Most harm resulting from introduction of non-native species should be blamed not on the species themselves, but on human destruction of habitat and on practices that change landscapes so they no longer support their native vegetation [...] Thus yanking the exotics will do no good—they’ll come back faster than the now-handicapped natives under the changed conditions." (from an article he wrote in 2005 titled Another Kind of Genocide)
In another piece he wrote titled Native Plants: Restoring to an Idea (2007), he writes,
"So why isn’t the whole planet a weedy thicket? Because the mere arrival of a new species, even in large numbers, is not what causes a successful colonization."
Indeed, as he states earlier in the article,
"Intact ecosystems are notoriously hard to invade."
Before we point fingers and call non-native species bad names, let's examine why they're here in the first place. What actions created the niche that they're now filling? When we start to wrestle with that question, I think we'll be in a better place to take meaningful action.