Greetings!

“There are some who can live without wild things and some who cannot.”
― Aldo Leopold

What are you seeing out there? We'd love to hear from you! Please enjoy our December edition. The following posts are from some of our local Harpswell Nature Watchers. All of the contributions below are seen immediately in our Facebook group.

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Waterfowl migrations take place now on a stop and start basis. With moderate weather, Canada geese and mallards will linger in northern waters if food is available. A major cold front with strong winds and falling temperatures will push waterfowl to the south in vast numbers.
(Submitted by Ed Robinson, Photo by tntemerson iStock, December 30, 2019)
This type of rock formation is very common in Harpswell and is easily seen along the coastline. This phenomenon is called Boudinage—from boudin , French for sausage. It occurs when rock layers have been stretched over geologic time. In this case, there was a layer of quartz surrounded by layers of schist. However, quartz is harder than the schist, and therefore, doesn’t “flow” as well. So, as the rock was stretched by tectonic forces, because they don't stretch at the same rate, the quartz broke or split into these rounded pieces, leaving a sausage-like structure sandwiched between layers of schist. Puzzled by what I was seeing, I took this photo on the west side of Whaleboat Island and had my daughter—a geologist—explain it to me.
(Submitted by Lynn Knight, December 29, 2019)
With the autumn breeding seasons over, bull moose and white-tailed deer bucks begin to shed their antlers. Normally the two antlers will drop on the same day but they may be scattered as the animals move around. If the animal is healthy, new antlers will begin to grow soon. The fallen antlers provide valuable minerals for mice, porcupines and other small animals who will gnaw on the bones through the winter months ahead.
(Submitted by Ed Robinson. Photo by Warren Metcalf, Shutterstock, December 18, 2019)
Needle ice – This is a phenomenon that occurs when the soil temperature is above freezing (32 degrees F) and the air temperature is below freezing. Moisture in the soil is drawn up to the surface through capillary action where it freezes, building columns of needle-like ice crystals. If warmer daytime temperatures are not cold enough to freeze the ground, but then drop at night below freezing, it can create the right conditions for these exotic crystals to form. To form, the soil has to have a high water content and there are typically repeated freeze-thaw conditions for several days.
Needle ice is different than hoar frost, which is formed by water vapor from the air freezing and crystallizing on the surface of the soil or snow. I saw this yesterday on the trail at Curtis Farm Preserve. I'm sure the rain has long since washed it away, but more could form with the cold temps predicted over the next few days.
(Submitted by Lynn Knight, December 14, 2019)