Sunday, September 16, 2018

Osprey juvenile

Click on the photo to see more detail.
I was done boating and had stowed my camera, unplugged the electric motor, and was paddling in to the dock when a juvenile osprey flew overhead toward the north. It landed on a tree and then flew back overhead to a tree on the south shore. I think the bird was taunting me. Well, not to be out done, I paddled toward his perching tree and proceeded to photograph him. What a gorgeous bird!
One distinguishing feature is that juvenile ospreys have pale tips on their feathers.

Who knew??? Grey Squirrels can swim!

While boating on Caesar Pond, I zoomed in on what I thought was a beaver swimming across the pond. In fact, it turned out to be a grey squirrel! 
He was swimming at high speed to reach the eastern shore. I can only surmise that maybe he escaped the clutches of a bird of prey and fell into the water.

Sun and cloud reflections on Caesar Pond

See the propeller of the boat to show that I am shooting onto the pond surface.
The sun was shining hot and bright this morning, and I was happy when a tiny bit of cloud cover obscured it for a short time. I snapped a few photos of its reflection on the water.

It is safest to photograph reflections of the sun so as not to blind yourself while looking through the view finder.
The sun was starting to emerge from behind the clouds
Just that little bit of cloud cover, for a few moments, cooled the air to a comfortable temperature.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

What a Hoot!

What do you do when you can't sleep? Some people read books, some people clean house, and some people go outdoors at 3am to record audio of barred owls. I belong in the 3rd category of people! 

I have been hearing barred owls in the distance over the past several nights, and got lucky to be awake when they flew to the woods behind our house. I have had the audio recorder at the ready, so I was able to grab it and race outdoors when the hooting started. There are also tons of wood frogs and some crickets in the background. I think you'll enjoy it and find it rather relaxing;-) 

Friday, September 7, 2018

Great Blue

The wing feathers have subtle color variations. Click on the picture to see the wings in more detail.
Beautiful winged creature...the great blue heron... I love looking at the feathers of birds in flight. Their wingtips bend to catch air as they glide from one destination to the next.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Just a few pond and bog plants in late August

The plants on Caesar Pond bloom at various times, from spring through autumn. As I puttered around the pond, I took a few photos of the plants currently in flower and fruit on the little islands, as well as submerged plants.
Algae (unknown species by me) under the water.
See the air bubbles at the surface created by the algae?
My first glance around was under the water. There is algae galore. In fact, the water is quite murky due to all the algae throughout the pond.
Wild-celery, Vallisneria americana
Also, on the surface of the water was wild-celery whose long, ribbonlike leaves cover wide sections of the pond where the water is a bit shallower, often 5 feet deep or less. This plant is a very popular food source for ducks who feed on the rhizomes (horizontal underground stems) of the plant.
Water smartweed, Polygonum sp.
I was also intrigued by water smartweed which I saw in only one location on the pond. It is currently found at the border of the north cove, in shallow water. Muskrats and ducks enjoy feeding on smartweed.
Water smartweed
Here is more of a close-up of the plant. The seed heads are a good food source for birds.
Pipewort, aka button rods, Eriocaulon septangulare (with a 7-sided, leafless flower stalk)
I also find pipewort to be one of my favorite water loving plants. It can grow near the edges of the sphagnum islands, with all of its plant matter above the water surface.
Pipewort, with another common name of Hatpins
Or, pipewort can grow with its basal leaves below water and just its stalks visible above the water surface. I just love the little white, button-like flowers at the tips of the stems.
Fragrant Water Lily, Nymphaea odorata
I often see pipeworts growing near water lilies in shallow water. This fragrant water lily is host to lots of insects that feed on the stems, leaves, and flowers. I think these plants attract more insects than any others on the pond. Bees, beetles, flies, and tiny thrips swarm these plants for their pollen.
They host insects that feed on them, lay eggs on them, and pollinate them.
Common Bladderwort, Utricularia vulgaris (I believe)
Oooohhhh...ooohhh...Check out the bladderwort in the water to the left of the water lily. More carnivorous than insectivorous, these plants inhabit ponds, swamps, and marshes and feed on lots of tiny zooplankton. Someday, I need to net a mass and photograph it in my aquarium to get a better view.
Arrowhead, Sagittaria latifolia
As I made my way toward an island, I was pleased to find Arrowhead plants in flower. Do you see the somewhat arrow-shaped leaves on either side of the group of white flowers?
Arrowhead flowers
Here is a close-up of the flowers. These plants are found in shallow waters where they are fed upon by water snails, ducks, beavers, muskrats, and lots of insects. Their tubers can be cooked like potatoes, although some people are highly allergic when even touching the plant.
Along the edges of the sphagnum islands, I spied lots of cranberries that will soon be ready for picking! This one looks ripe to me;-)
Here is an unripe cranberry. Note the small leaves that grow alternately on the stems. These plants grow in highly acidic environments.
Cotton-grass, Eriophorum spp.
Growing on the sphagnum islands, often forming tussocks (mounded clumps) where their "feet" don't get as wet, are the cotton-grasses. They are sedges with cottony tufts of seed-heads. 
I find it relaxing to watch them swaying in the breeze. They are a sign that autumn is near.
And, lastly, the asters, which are one of the last of the flowers to bloom as we head into autumn, are adding a bit of cheeriness to the islands. This one is growing on a log that is partially submerged near the shore. It's neighbors are bog gentian, sundew, and sedges, and some plants unknown to me.

I declare this day to be "Painted Turtle Day!"

It was a hot, sunshiny Sunday...just the kind of day that painted turtles would be out in droves, sunning themselves on logs.
It seemed as though everywhere I paddled along the southwestern shore, I would see a turtle or two on a log.
Gee, I wanted to stretch out and sun myself as well! The turtles looked so happy, so peaceful.
Of late, I have been worried that the number of turtles was decreasing, but in reality, I just get out boating too early for them to appear. They love the heat of the day, while I love the early morning coolness...

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Medicinal Plant thought extinct found in Bowdoin, Maine

Photo grab from the article - Maine Natural Areas Program - BDN Aug. 21, 2018, news article.
Sooo cool! The Unicorn Root, aka White Colic-Root, Aletris farinosa, thought extinct, has reappeared in a field in Bowdoin! Look for it in  "open, moist, sand ground associated with tallgrass prairie habitats and damp, sandy meadows with little or no topsoil."
Photo grab from the article - Maine Natural Areas Program - BDN Aug. 21, 2018, news article.
That is so exciting. But, this rare plant's location will remain a secret as it should be. Check out this Bangor Daily News article about it. Thanks for alerting me to this news, Shannon!

Monday, August 20, 2018

Caesar Pond Prowl

Chilling out at the dock before our boat ride!
 I went for a morning pond prowl with our niece, Nan, who spent the night with us before heading to points south. 
And, what a wonderful morning it was. We began by seeing the great blue heron stalking frogs.
As we watched the heron, a pair of mallards took off for the north end of the pond.
We turned and headed north along the western shore as well. As we motored along, we heard the staccato rattle call of a kingfisher.
These skittish birds drive me nuts as I can rarely get close enough to photograph them. Indeed, this one took off as we got within about 80 feet of it.
It flew from tree to tree toward the north end, and as usual, I couldn't quite get a sharp photo.
One of the best shots came when a second kingfisher got a bit territorial and they flew off across the pond.
We headed toward the one active beaver lodge to see if anyone was home;-)
And then, we went as far north as we could into the boggy part of the pond.
We hung out for a few minutes checking out the old beaver lodge, which is difficult to get the pond prowler close to.
The thought of chocolate chip pancakes and Nan's nearing departure time for home had us hightailing it for the dock. But, then Nan heard a loon calling. Well, we decided that the loon was worth investigating! We got lucky enough to be in the right place, at the right time, when the loon popped up from a dive. Wow! What a gorgeous bird;-)
I am rarely in position to photograph the red of the loon's eye as I am usually facing into the sun when photographing him. These photos aren't as tack sharp as I would wish, but it was thrilling to be so near (well, we weren't that close as I was using a telephoto lens...) so that Nan could get the full Maine experience!
Laurie, Mom, and Dad canoeing on Woodbury Pond many moons ago!
I dedicate this blog post to my dearly departed dad. Today is the 15th anniversary of his death. Each year, I tend to see lots of wildlife on this date. I think he is helping to solidify the mutual bond we have with Mama Nature! Cheers, Dad!

Saturday, August 18, 2018

The Saga of the Hornet Nest

Hornet nest under the deck with a guard hornet in the doorway!
Photo taken with the endoscope as Drew snaked it up under the deck.
"Ouch!", "Nailed again!", "Geez...what the heck?", are all quotes from Drew and I, (and from Lady Flame and Toby if they could speak "Human". Although, Lady Flame was also saying, "I don't want to go out for potty. I can hold it, Dad! I don't want to get stung again!")
We all got stung repeatedly, on and off, for a couple of weeks until Drew found the nest under the deck. These bees seemed smaller than yellowjackets, but they are all in the same family of social wasps (although Drew refers to them as antisocial wasps!")
These darned hornets would zoom out for a quick attack, then retreat. They were protecting all the larvae. You can barely see the grubs hanging down from their cells in the hive. After several sprayings of wasp annihilator poison (I don't know what brand we used, but it had one heck of a forceful stream), the majority of the hornets died.
Drew removed the hive, broke it open, and sprayed the heck out of it again. Overkill? Maybe, but no more hornets from this hive will attack us this summer. In this photo, you can see the grubs on the left. The cells that have woven silk caps contain the more mature grubs, now called pupae, that will hatch out into fully fledged adults (about 30 days after the eggs were laid.) And, you can see tiny eggs in their own cells throughout the hive. 

I found this great little video about Yellowjackets on YouTube. Excellent!

Friday, August 17, 2018

Great Blue Heron on Caesar Pond

Great Blue Heron: (Click on the picture for more detail of its colorful head)
This great blue heron and I played tag along the shore of Caesar Pond, today.
I was inspired by her beauty and her ability for a silent take-off from the island she had been standing on.
Her wings were so long and her flying effortless.
I ate 3 Dove chocolates while boating this morning, and the quote inside the first one said, "Keep life moving forward. Looking backward is only for time travelers." And, that is what the great blue heron does. She always looks forward to the next meal.
The next quote said, "We are all stories in the end, just make it a good one." The great blue heron is a bird of Native American symbolism and myth. They are symbols of good luck and patience.
And, the last quote was right on, "Everyone has a happy ending. If you're not happy, it's not the end." So, keep soaring through life and make it the best one you can.

For another interpretation, see my Maine Nature Poetry blog post featuring the blue heron.