A large bullfrog is partially submerged in a pond in Acadia National Park. GETTY IMAGES PHOTO

Nature: It’s worth the drive to hear the frogs and toads sing  



Spring is full of surprises if you stay alert! On the windowpane one evening, a small frog appearedActually, two appeared in full view showing us their lightcolored stomachs from our vantage point. Their sticky toes kept them in place. Even our dog found them interesting. 

I was sitting in a tropical setting this past week in South Carolina when the deepthroated call of bullfrogs caught my attention. I love that sound, but don’t hear it very often on Mount Desert Island where I live. On the island, those calls are usually heard in mid and late summer. As you go south, they are more common. Years ago, when our home was in Katonah, N.Y., their voices coming from our pond were many and loud.  ’Jug-a-rum’ was wonderful to hear in the night. Birds along the shore lived dangerously for as they took a drinkthese large frogs would catch and eat them! 

There is a wonderful wet area near Sedgewick in Maine where frogs and toads sing lustily. It is worth driving down there just to hear them in full voice in the spring and summer. 

A gorgeous rosebreasted grosbeak seemed to be in high spirits one day. This grosbeak is not only beautiful to see but also has a beautiful nature. The male assumes his full part in his family duties and is a good parent in every way. He even sits on the nest and incubates the eggs, singing softly to himself when he takes his turn. He is also known to sing while he is flying. 

 

 

An adult red kite in flight. GETTY IMAGES PHOTO

Three kites (the feathered type) flew over the canal where I am in South Carolina this week. Before this, had only seen them in Florida. They are large birds and do look like feathered kites. They seem at first like big barn swallows with long tails catching insects in the sky.  

Hummingbirds are back and I want to remind everyone to feed them only sugar water made with white sugar. NEVER use honey!!! The cherry tree in the Asticou Azalea Gardens in Northeast Harbor is a must to visit this monthHummingbirds are at their best there as they feast on the cherry tree blossomsI well remember hearing the loud grunts of pain as they jabbed each other with their long bills as they fought over the blossoms. Hummingbirds are feisty little feathered jewels and are the smallest birds in Maine.  

Our large dog joined us at the edge of the canal this week, enjoying the setting of the sun and beautiful skies. I looked over to the edge of wall and noticed the dog pawing something of interest. Always with binoculars at the ready, I looked to see what he had found. With the glasses I could see something alive under the chair and we went to investigate. The object of interest turned out to be a copperbellied water snake, an endangered species in South Carolina, but not poisonous. It is fun to see something new. 

I have always been interested in snakes. Many times while my husband was alive, we had rattlesnakes and copperheads living in the house – in cages (of course). 

When it came time for the cages to be cleaned, he would lift the snake out on a special snake stick and balance it there while I cleaned the cage. It was a funny event. The operation always went well and the neighborhood children always loved watching the event! 

We did not attempt to touch the snake here in South Carolina, of course, but we did examine it and enjoyed watching it until it made its way along the wall and then dropped into the canal waters. Its top side was dark grey and not much to see but its underside was very colorful. It MADE our day! For us nature lovers, this was a very good day! 

I get reports of natural sightings on MDI almost every day as more birds arrive and spring activities in the natural world revive. Geese are nestingA friend reported seeing a beautiful spruce grouse. Probably most of us are more familiar with the ruffed grouse, commonly called a partridge. It is mostly lovely shades of brown and famous for its courtship ‘drumming’ sound made on a log.  

The male spruce grouse, a chickenlike bird, is quite handsome splotched with black and white beneath. He shows a comb of bare red skin above the eye and a chestnut band on the end of the tail. He really is quite beautiful. Ruffed grouses are more often seen but both birds live on the island. 

Get outside now and enjoy nature on MDI and let me know what you are seeing. 

Send any questions or observations to [email protected]

Ruth Grierson

Ruth Grierson

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

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