Rose-breasted grosbeak PHOTO COURTESY OF JOY ON ISLESFORD

Nature: Foxtrotting to the amphibian symphony  



“June is busting out all over…” So say the words of an old favorite song of mine. Nature proclaims this loudly and clearly this month! Bird calls taunt me as I am out in my woods and I try to figure out who is there. Nesting is in ‘full swing’ and nests built, eggs laid and the prospects of new wildlife families throughout all of nature are good. As a note in last week’s paper said, if you find a fawn in the wild sleeping by itself, keep your distance and don’t ever touch it, for the babies do not have a smell and your touch could mean death for them. Their mothers will come back and care for them before nightfall. Keep your own pets away from the fawn and don’t touch it. 

If you find baby birds in trouble, move them to a safe place or higher off the ground and let the parents take care of them and keep your pets away from the area. 

fox was sitting on my driveway as my dog and I went for our daily walk this week. It’s been a long time since I’d seen one of these mammals. Wildlife can be around and yet can keep hidden easily. At first the fox was sitting and almost looked like a dog with its ears up. As I watched, it suddenly stood up, and then the body took on that of a fox and it trotted off with its bushy tail showing nicely. The red fox is commonly seen on this island sometimes trotting along the road or crossing a field. At night you might see them in town. I’ll never forget the sight of one trotting along the path that leads out of Northeast Harbor one afternoon towards the Asticou gardens. It had a naked chicken in its jaws and was headed for its den. Some kind butcher or householder had given it a welcome gift. An old folk song came to mind about the “fox going out on a chilly night.” That fit this sight! 

Foxes are very fond of mice. I remember watching one in a field near me as it hunted for them. They patiently wait in a field watching and then at the right moment rise up and pounce on the unsuspecting mouse. The Natural History Museum at the College of the Atlantic has a nice exhibit of one doing just that. It’s worth stopping by and looking at it. The fox is very graceful and clever. It is usually the red fox that is seen on this island.  

Several years ago, foxes had a den right next to the road in a rocky spot going up Cadillac Mountain. It offered great photo opportunities for people passing by, but it was not safe for the foxes and it caused traffic jams. Since they are so dog-like it would seem likely that foxes might be kept for pets, but they do have a very musky body odor that would be hard to live with. The young ones often are friendly, but don’t encourage their friendship for it makes them vulnerable to getting killed. Don’t feed them or encourage them to expect food from you. Take photos and keep your distance from them. 

From the emails I have gotten this week, the woods and area around Sieur De Monts Spring are great places for birds right now. A short list of birds seen there one afternoon had American redstartblack-and-white warblerrose-breasted grosbeak, catbird and pileated woodpecker. That would be a good list for any bird watcher! This is prime time for bird watching for all the leaves are not out yet on the trees.  

The small woodland pools and shallow ponds have wonderful sounds coming from them in the spring, especially if toads and frogs are abundant. Some friends just  

off-island told me that they took their chairs down to a local wet area to enjoy listening to the toads and tree frogs trilling and making their love calls. It is like listening to a special amphibian symphony. Every creature has a place in the ‘choir’. Do you know that song? 

Keep watch these days for broad-winged hawks flying up from the ground and often from the ditches alongside the road with a snake in their talons. I saw one do just that on the Manset Road one day. The bird’s meal was wriggling vigorously as the bird flew up and out of the ditch. 

All wildlife is busy now gathering food for young ones and eating the bountiful supply of food found in the spring when it is very much needed. 

Enjoy watching wildlife on our island. Spring is prime time! Send any questions or observations to [email protected] or call 244-3742. 

 

 

Ruth Grierson

Ruth Grierson

Columnist
Send any questions or observations to [email protected] or call 244-3742.