Nature, time and patience are the three great physicians. Chinese proverb

What are you seeing out there? We'd love to hear from you! Please enjoy our March 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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The silvery furry catkins of the native pussy willow shrub ( Salix discolor ) are a welcome sign of spring. They started emerging last week. As the stamens mature over the next couple of weeks, catkins on some twigs will produce golden stamens (male flowers) and others will produce greenish pistils (female flowers). Like other willows, pussy willows contain salicin, a natural version of aspirin. Native Americans chewed the leaves and bark for pain relief.
(Submitted by Lynn Knight, March 31, 2020)
HHLT is posting daily outdoor ideas and inspiration. Some are geared toward families and others are great for adults and kids. Click on the links below to check them out!

Day 1: Create art with nature, the introduction to the Junior Ranger Activity Book and an animal riddle

Day 2: Scavenger hunts and an animal riddle

Day 3: Nature collections and an animal riddle

Day 4: Cleaning up trash, the Cliff Trail chapter of the Junior Ranger Activity Book and an animal riddle

Day 5: Keeping a nature journal and an animal riddle

Day 6: The benefits of unstructured, child-directed outdoor play and an animal riddle

Day 7: Bird watching and an animal riddle

Day 8: Writing nature haiku and an animal riddle

Day 9: Search for a vernal pool, the Curtis Farm Preserve chapter of the Junior Ranger Activity Book and an animal riddle

Day 10: Nature names and an animal riddle
Last week I spent a few minutes looking for birds at Houghton Graves Preserve. Things were quiet but will soon heat up as a wide variety of song birds migrate through the woods and marsh in this small park. I did hear an Eastern phoebe singing in the woods, probably an early arriving male trying to stake out his breeding territory. Seeing the two bluebird boxes at the edge of the cattails reminded me to note that if you have not already cleaned out your own bird boxes, you need to get it done quickly since birds will soon begin arriving and looking for nesting sites. Some birds will remove nesting materials from last season but favorites like Eastern bluebirds count on us to do it for them. It's an easy task to scrape out old materials, feathers and droppings and to spray the inside of the box with a mild solution of soap and bleach. With luck you will soon have new neighbors to enjoy through nesting season.
(Submitted by Ed Robinson. Photo by Steve Byland iStock, March 23, 2020)
March Super Worm Moon setting in the early morning on March 9th. According to the Farmer's Almanac, the full moon in March is always referred to as the worm moon because it is the time of year when the soil warms and the worms begin to become active. This year, the March full moon was also a Super moon a time when the moon's orbit is closest to Earth and it appears larger and brighter than usual.
(Submitted by Lynn Knight, March 22, 2020)
Yesterday I spent four hours at various spots around Harspwell looking at birds and enjoying a beautiful early spring day. Many local families were out on the trails and beaches, clearly enjoying a break from home detention during this health scare. At Curtis Farm Preserve, I enjoyed watching the mud flats of Basin Cove at low tide with my binoculars, with many gulls picking up bits of food. On the freshwater pond, I observed four mallards in early breeding behavior. Three drakes were constantly in motion trying to attain dominance so they could mate with the clearly frustrated lone hen. The drakes were quite aggressive toward each other, pecking and pulling out feathers, pushing each other under water and crowding the poor female. To my surprise, I saw a great blue heron winging over, my first for this early spring season.
(Submitted by Ed Robinson, Photo by John Berry, March 19, 2020)
The mild weather of early March makes you think that spring is just around the corner. But most wildlife react not to changes in weather but to an increase in the number of hours of daylight the technical term is photoperiodism . Birds like the American woodcock begin spring migration when the days are long enough, even if snow complicates their search for food. The short-tailed weasel (known in winter as an "ermine") may still be in his white coat after the snow has departed, making him more vulnerable to predation by raptors.
(Submitted by Ed Robinson, iStock photo, March 11, 2020)
I saw my first flock of returning red-winged blackbirds this past Wednesday well, actually I heard them first. They were making a happy racket in a wet thicket area along Basin Point Road. Keep your eyes open for the different species of birds returning to nest and stay for the warmer months. Below are two nests I saw in medium-sized shrubs recently. The first was built by a vireo and the second by a warbler thanks go to Prof. Nat Wheelwright for the ID of the nest builders! They would have been well camouflaged by the leaves of the shrubs. It is fascinating to see the differences in shapes and construction techniques between bird species.
(Submitted by Lynn Knight, March 6, 2020)