Star flowers are one of the flowers in bloom in the woods. ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

Nature: Ducks create flap on Jordan Pond

Wildflowers are appearing in woods and fields all over our island. In just a walk up my long driveway in Bass Harbor, bordered by woods and a few small vernal pools, I noted blueeyed grassstar floweryellow pond lilies (spadderdock), white violetswild strawberries and several ferns. Those of you on the Bar Harbor side of MDI see wildflowers and blooming shrubs about a week or more ahead of the other side of this island. 

Small ponds are always full of wildlife and try to spend time each day watching the scene in these virus ‘stay at home’ days. My dog enjoys the company! Thanks to an excellent audiologist, I am able to hear bird songs better this year. Hearing the sounds of the out of doors is special. You can tell if the bird is happy or announcing strife of some sort, declaring its territory or just expressing its opinion. With lots of tutorials on the computer, it is easier these days to learn bird sounds. 

The yellow pond lily, also known as cow lilyI mentioned is quite interesting and very easy to see and identify for the blossom shows as a yellow globe sticking up on a stem above the surface. The petals of the flower look as if they are made of wax. The leaves are large; often a foot in lengthThe thick round stems, rounded leaves and seeds are food for many woodland birds and mammals. 

In the watery ditches along my dirt driveway, large white violets are abundant. This is the one you are most likely to find in shallow water The viola-violet family is a large one, but the tell-tale shape and look of the various ones lets you know it’s a family member no matter what color it is. There are yellow, white, blue and lavender members of this large family. 

Just out of my reach are sundew plants in flower. These are those tiny carnivorous plants that eat very small insects. They are not as spectacular looking as the Venus flytrap plants in the south, but they are impressive in their method of catching food. The sundew leaves are about two inches and covered with very tiny hairs that have their own gluelike stickiness. A mosquito, spider or similar creature lands on the leaf and gets stuck there. Very gradually the leaf curls over it and the plant absorbs the nutrients. The whole event happens very slowly, but I watched a special video on the computer that was taken in timelapse photography and that was amazing. You might want to check it out. 

The plant often goes unnoticed since it is so small. As you walk near shallow water or watery ditches, look for a reddish color and take a closer look. The tiny leaves can be oblong, round or spatula shaped. When magnified, sundew is very beautiful and interesting. 

Friends hiking near Jordan Pond had a very exciting experience this past week. Near the spillway, they saw a female common merganser with 10 babies. This in itself was a nice sighting. All of a sudden, another female merganser came into the scene and tried to grab a baby bird! A highspeed chase ensued and the second bird did get a baby bird. After more fighting and fast charges from 20 feet across the water, the second bird finally left. It was a very nice event to witness in the everyday life of a merganser family.  

If you are interested in water birds, I recommend finding a copy of Ducks, Geese and Swans of North America by Forthright in a secondhand bookstore. It’s full of good information. 

A question and a photo were sent to me this week for identification. Friends had been walking along the beach and found strange white seaweedlike something on shore. It turned out to be gutweed, also known as sea hair. When it is alive and well, the color is an intense green, actually beautiful in its own way, but when it dies, the tubular hairs are white and also interesting. You will find gutweed wherever there is seepage of fresh water at or above the tide line as well as near cliffside seepages. Chlorophyll a and b give this alga its bright green color. There is a nice photo of gutweed in my book, “Living on the Edge,” co-authored with Thomas Vining. Local libraries have the book, or you can call me. 

Take time to enjoy the out of doors in these strange times of masks, distancing, etc. Send me any questions or observations to [email protected] or call 244-3742. 


Ruth Grierson

Ruth Grierson

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

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