Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Caesar Pond Prowl Hour

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I have been neglecting the pond lately, and really felt the need to get grounded by nature. I rounded up Neighbor Shannon and we went for a short boat ride from 5pm - 6pm.
We had to do a good bit of paddling, as the pond level is down by about a foot, due to the drought we are in. But, that didn't deter us as we traveled to the north cove. As you can see, the maple leaves are starting to turn, and there are a smattering of red trees lining the boggy part of the pond.
The water lily flowers are gone, but their leaves still float on the pond surface. I found them to be particularly beautiful with the cloud reflections.
The stillness of the water, the approaching sunset, and the reflections yielded a view of the lily pads that is almost surreal.
My favorite part of our pond hour was the discovery of a new beaver lodge on the northwestern side of the pond. I couldn't believe my eyes!
And, right nearby was the beaver's diner. You can see several little islands, that serve as luncheon tables, all over the pond.
The new lodge may have been a surprise, but even more exciting was that an old, dilapidated lodge had been refurbished. Check out the green leaves that are still attached to some of the underwater branches!
This lodge has been on the pond for many years, and it had been worn down to practically nothing. We had thought that it had been taken over by some otters, about 5 years ago, but it is now active with beavers.
Check out the gnaw marks on this log! It does look rather fresh. And, Shannon heard a beaver tail-slap the water somewhere behind us! The beaver always has the last "word" when I am boating nearby;-)

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Refreshing weather...finally

Autumn is now here, in my opinion (and, officially too)! Gone are the 80F days and warm nights. Daytime highs are in the 50s and 60s. Check out Monday morning's low! Yowzer... break out your woolies;-)

Friday, September 16, 2016

The weathah is gettin' bettah!

WhoooHooo... I was chuckling as I got out of bed this morning. At 6am, the outdoor temp. is a solid 40F, and the indoor temp. is 64.5F. Yaaaaahhhhhhoooooo.....

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Historic monthly average versus reality

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Ummm... Our historic monthly average daytime temp is supposed to be 69F, and our overnight low is supposed to be 51F. We're not far off with the average low temp., but yowzer, look at our daily high temps. There is not a single daytime high as low as 69F. Uggggaaaaa Buggggaaaa...

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Changing of the Trees

I get excited about autumn. I think it is my favorite season of the year, and I wish it lasted twice as long as it does. The days have a tinge of coolness under a hot sun, while the nights get downright chilly! A few trees are starting to change color, and I think they are the unhealthy ones. As you can see by the foliage map, there's not much happening at the moment. But, wait a week and see! Check out the Maine Dept. of Agriculture and Forestry's website, "Maine Foliage," for weekly updates on the state of leaf color change throughout our forests for the next month.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Off to the beach we go...Fort Popham Beach that is...

We went to the beach, via Fort Popham, because you can bring dogs there. Little did we know that dogs are no longer allowed at this state historic site beach park from April 1 - Sept. 30th. Well, we got through almost our entire walk before we heard a dog owner (there were lots of dogs on this beach) being alerted to the fact that what he was doing was illegal. We got a bit nervous because we hadn't looked at the bulletin board near the bathrooms. After returning to the parking area, we checked it out, and low and behold there was a little laminated paper sign saying "No dogs on the beach." Uh oh...we are rule followers, and we had broken the rules. Oh well, it is only 4 more weeks until we can legally go to the beach again;-(
The beach has changed significantly since we last visited it a year ago (in the winter we go to Popham Beach State Park instead.) 
Now, just a short way down the beach, there is a berm that acts as a wall down to the water. We had to climb up and over it to continue our walk. Here you can see how the water sculpts the beach over time, and gradually brings in, and pulls sand away, with each tide and each storm.
Click on the photo for a larger view.
Drew pointed out the layers of sand (higher up on the beach), and indeed it is like an archaeological dig, looking into the past where the tides have brought in layer upon layer of sediment over time. This is how sedimentary rock is formed. 
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Eventually, over thousands to millions of years, the bottom layer of sediment will get compacted and cemented together to form rock called sandstone. If you were able to look closely enough, you would see bits and pieces of organic material (like seaweed, crabs, etc.) mixed in with the minerals like feldspar, quartz, and mica.
As we walked along the beach, we saw lots of quahog clams which prefer to live in sandy and muddy bottoms in cold waters, which we sure have in Maine;-) By the way, they are great in chowders, soups, and stews!
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This quahog has a smaller shell lodged in the sand, between its valves, that I think might be a waved whelk, but I am not sure. Check out the snail trail leading off from the shell off to the right. I wish I had picked it up to see the underside of the shell so I could try to identify it.
Then, we came across an Atlantic Dog Whelk (Nucella lapillus), also called an Atlantic Dogwinkle. Awww.. what a cute name for this predatory sea snail that feeds on barnacles, mussels, and assorted bivalves!
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I was happy to find a Moon Snail on the sand and seaweeds. It's beautiful blue coloration caught my eye. They are often found in mudflats, and are truly disliked by clam diggers as they bore holes into clams and digest them. They sure are pretty, though!
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Here is a pretty frond of knotted wrack. We found clumps of this seaweed along the beach where it washes up with the tides. There are literally tons of it attached to rocks along the shore and underwater. Want to know more about it? Check out a blog page by one of Bowdoin College's marine biology professors. Awesome stuff!
Jackknife clams (Ensis directus) were scattered here and there along the beach as well. On the left you see the sky blue coloration of the inside of the shell, and on the right you see the yellowish/creamy white of the outside of the shell. These clams burrow deep within the sand and mud of intertidal zones. Their shell resembles a straight razor, and the edges of the shell are so sharp that they can cut your foot if you step on them. I don't think I've ever had any to eat, but they are supposed to be delicious!
Pond Island Lighthouse is in the background
As we rounded the point (where the Kennebec River runs out into the ocean), the waves come in at two angles creating a crisscross (X) pattern.
Check out Drew's video of the wave motion.
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What's a walk on the beach without seeing a few sanderlings! I finally had to remind myself to scan the shoreline for these swift little birds.
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They are a type of sandpiper, and they are found almost worldwide along the ocean shorelines. 
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We love watching them scurry just in front of the breaking waves. They probe the sand for tiny crabs, worms, and mollusks (to name a few burrowing animals), and eat insects as well.
Run, be free, little sanderlings! Enjoy;-)
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And, then they fly low over the waves showing off their wing pattern.
I will leave you with a wide angle view of the beach...So pretty and relaxing...and one of my favorite places in Maine.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Squid Egg Mass

Squid Egg Mass - Photo by Kathy County
(Click on the photo for a larger view.)
One of my colleagues, Kathy, and her children, found many egg masses on Old Orchard Beach, over the weekend. I know that I've got some photography to do, if there are still more egg masses to see! (The mating seasons are very short in the ocean...) Next weekend's low tides at Popham Beach are: Saturday 7:08 am, Sunday 7:45 am, Monday 8:22 am. 

I believe we have Northern Shortfin Squid and Longfin Inshore Squid off the coast of Maine, but I don't know who laid these.