Nature

  • Arctic grebes winter in Maine

    Arctic grebes winter in Maine

    A thin skim of ice covers my small pond these November mornings. Winter is creeping in on us. I have noticed that many gray squirrels have been killed as they cross our busy roads this month. They are busily preparing for winter and moving about everywhere as they store away food for the coming winter.

  • Mushroom turns inky black

    Mushroom turns inky black

    November can be full of surprises. A rather strange mushroom poked up near a reader’s house this week and identification was asked for. There are many mushrooms to be found on Mount Desert Island, but this particular one I have seen before, and I hoped I could give it a name. It came up from

  • Sea cucumbers can eject internal organs

    Sea cucumbers can eject internal organs

    A new month begins, and November seems to be a time when we experience a mixture of summer and winter moods. Frosty mornings contrast with afternoons so warm you may even hear a spring peeper calling. My interesting creature of the week was a sea cucumber. These sea creatures are strange and fascinating. They can

  • Yellowlegs heading south

    Yellowlegs heading south

    Greater yellowlegs can still be seen feeding on our local mudflats here and there. This shorebird nests far to the north on the tundra and winters on coastal marshes. We see it here as it migrates to the south for the winter. Both greater and lesser yellowlegs sometimes flock together and are recognized by their

  • Buffleheads due any day

    Buffleheads due any day

    Fall colors on this island get better every day. It is nature’s grand show before another Maine winter. Birding enthusiasts watch local harbors for the buffleheads and other northern ducks that come here to spend the winter months. Buffleheads are due “any day now,” as the lyrics of a popular song I play with a

  • Redpolls arriving soon

    Redpolls arriving soon

    “Why don’t I have lots of birds at my feeder now?” and “What happened to the birds?” are two questions I have had numerous times recently. My thinking on this now is that there is plenty of wild, natural food for them and no need for them to spend time at a feeder. When the

  • Asters are roadside stars

    Asters are roadside stars

    In the past couple of weeks, I have been traveling in Newfoundland and enjoying the fantastic scenery there, the wonderful wildlife that abounds everywhere and the friendly people who live there. Only in my lifetime have roads been built all over the island, so traveling around the country is easy. Roadside flowers were profuse and

  • Ovenbird named for nests

    Ovenbird named for nests

    A neighbor called to tell me of an interesting bird he watched feeding on his lawn. It was an ovenbird, that bird whose call sounds as if it is saying “teacher, Teacher TEACHER!” Each time, the word is pronounced louder. There is no doubt about recognizing this birds’ call. Ovenbirds belong to the warbler group

  • Cottongrass calls to mind cottontails

    Cottongrass calls to mind cottontails

    Tussock cottongrass thrives in one spot alongside my driveway, and its white cottony tops make an interesting scene. It is a perennial herb of wetlands, and you can see it in many places on this island. There is no problem recognizing it, for the white tufts on the end of the stems look just like

  • Yellow garden spider interesting, useful

    Yellow garden spider interesting, useful

    Most birds start their families in the spring, but the colorful yellow-and-black goldfinches we so enjoy sometimes wait even into September to start their families. This is probably because the young are fed largely on semidigested seeds that the parents regurgitate directly into their mouths. Earlier in the season, there would not be enough seeds