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.


 

Patreon logo

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!

Discover the mysteries just outside your door

Photo of Rock Pigeon
Rock Pigeon (aka Rock Dove)

Flipping through some of my files earlier this month, I came across a piece I wrote for a newspaper almost 12 years ago. The following letter appeared on the Opinion page of the December 24, 2005 edition of The Sun Chronicle (Attleboro, MA):

Discover the mysteries just outside your door

To the editor:

After graduating from college last year, I couldn't tell you the difference between a white or red oak. I had no idea what birds lived near my home, aside from the "seagulls" and "pigeons" (which I now know as ring-billed gulls and rocks doves). And I didn't know there were wild turkeys and coyotes living nearby.

In those days I considered myself an environmentalist. I knew about toxins and teratogens. I knew that "recycled" computers were often dumped on Asian countries where they poisoned the land and people.

I knew about (and lobbied to help address) the realities of environmental racism in poor neighborhoods.

Yet, my knowledge was hardly complete.

I can't speak for your schooling experience, but mine was lacking in the local. It's taken me a year to learn some of the most basic knowledge about the non-human communities around me -- knowledge that should be (and not long ago was) common sense.

Now I can identify most native trees, I can recognize a dozen birds by their song alone, and I pay attention to the tracks and signs left by elusive animals.

Since graduating, I find studying nature to be my most meaningful pastime. Every day I notice something different, uncover a new mystery in my backyard.

Flipping through field guides (or, better yet, spending time with a naturalist) and walking in a forest or along a stream should be part of every child's upbringing.

If we desire to live responsibly on the earth, we must start by knowing and appreciating the little part we can see.

Parents especially must provide these opportunities for their children, for the generations to come.

Joshua M. Fecteau
Plainville

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.


 

Patreon logo

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!

17.19 | 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.


 

Patreon logo

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.


 

Patreon logo

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!