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.

Yes, we have an endoscope! It is great for peeking into dark and difficult areas to access.
"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.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Hummingbirds and Jewelweed

The ruby throated hummingbirds are chittering and chattering, and zipping around the yard with quite a high level of activity lately. They are currently favoring bee balm and jewelweed for nectar. As I walk around the yard, I get buzzed quite frequently. Crazy!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Clearwing Hummingbird Moths

Yesterday, I was bemoaning the fact that I hadn't seen any hummingbird moths yet.
And, then today there were two of them flitting about amidst the phlox, mostly.
They are so pretty and always appear when the phlox are in full bloom.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Boating with Captain Corey on the Sea Walker

7am in South Freeport Harbor
This summer wouldn't be complete without a morning boat ride, out of South Freeport Harbor with Captain Corey Walker, upon the Sea Walker boat.

Captain Corey, Drew, and Laurie on the Sea Walker
I love boating and Corey's boat is perfect for our needs of wildlife photography.
Sallie enjoyed herself to the max!
We wanted to show Sallie (my Montana buddy) the harbor seals and the general rocky coastline of our part of Maine.
Harbor Seals on an exposed chunk of rock at high tide.
As we motored around the harbor during high tide, we saw what seemed like a knobby rock in the distance. It turned out to be inhabited by a bunch of harbor seals of all shapes, colors, and sizes;-)
An adorable young harbor seal pup.
There were quite a few young seals this time of year. 
Big, well fed harbor seals!
And, there were lots of ginormous adults!
Just lounging around on a lazy Monday morning!
Seals were everywhere on our journey around the islands, and they kept us entertained!
I love this photo of Drew in the morning sun
The morning was cool, calm, and sunny. It was perfect for leaving the harbor and going out around some nearby islands.
Double-crested Cormorant
As we cruised, we saw cormorants everywhere. This one obliged me by skimming the surface of the water. My camera shutter was snapping photos at light speed!
Sallie kept an eagle eye out for ospreys!
As we approached this island, we saw and osprey nest with three ospreys!
The nest was huge and the birds were flying to and from the nest. I think there might have been one young bird still in it!
Bald Eagle
We also saw a bald eagle feeding on a fish.
Iron Island
This island is called Iron Island. Can you guess why? Look at all that red, oxidized rock! It was gorgeous;-)
As we motored further, we saw the surface of the water getting churned up. There were huge schools of menhaden fish everywhere! Corey stopped the boat so that we could see them. Unfortunately, I forgot my polarizing filter for the camera, so you can't see the fish very well, but at least you get an idea of just how many fish there must be here! No wonder the seals are so fat, sassy, and happy!
Sailboats in the Brunswick Harbor
Beyond wildlife, we saw lots of sailboats in different harbors as we cruised through them.
Most of the boats were moored as only the fishermen were up at this time in the morning!
Lots of sailors haul their little row boats with them so they can go ashore after mooring their boats out in the harbor. The piers can only hold so many boats at one time.

We had such a lovely morning on the water for a few carefree hours. Thank you, Corey!