"See it, smell it, taste, it, and forget the time of day or year.
Autumn needs no clock or calendar." ~Hal Borland

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

Click here for more information about Harpswell Nature Watchers.
White-tailed deer are beginning to experience hormonal changes that drive the autumn breeding cycle. Does are seeking out the most desirable food sources, especially acorns, as they pack on the pounds ahead of the coming winter. Buck antlers have hardened to bone and the animals are rubbing off the velvet covering that carried blood and nutrients all summer. The rubbing leaves scent behind on trees and shrubs for other deer to evaluate.

(Submitted by Ed Robinson, September 30, 2020)
Saw these spectacular brightly colored mushrooms at Long Reach Preserve.

Those are Waxcaps (Hygrocybe sp.), they get that common name from the waxy feel of their gills if you rub them between your fingers. Unfortunately they are rather brittle, so it’s hard to share the experience with a group because they disintegrate after the first couple of people try it!

(Submitted by Lynn Knight and answered by Alan Seamans, September 24, 2020)
Indian pipes and beech drops are flowering now – lots along the trails at Long Reach Preserve. Both of these plants are parasitic. Neither has chlorophyll, so neither are green or can produce their own food. They do flower, however, and produce nectar and pollen. Their roots are coated with mycorrhizal fungi, which in turn are connected to tree roots. The fungi break down organic matter in the soil to supply the trees with mineral and other nutrients. In return, the trees provide food produced through photosynthesis to the fungi. Thus, the trees and the mycorrhizae have a symbiotic or mutually beneficial relationship. The Indian pipes and beech drops are sort of free-riders—getting all the nutrition they need from the trees via the fungi. The droopy Indian pipe flowers will stand erect after they have been pollinated.

(Submitted by Lynn Knight, September 24, 2020)
Sharp-shinned hawk
Semi-palmated plover
Juvenile semi-palmated sandpiper
Last Saturday morning was a perfect morning to be in the woods and there were birds everywhere including warblers, finches, woodpeckers and more. While enjoying the spectacle, I heard a noise behind me as suddenly a hawk landed very close by. It was a sharp-shinned hawk, small but fierce looking in the morning sun. The hawk gave me time to pull out my camera and take a few shots, then took off for a nearby tree. After a couple of minutes, he took to the air again and flew right at me, swerving away at the last second at about six feet away from me. I guess he didn't like my face!

Saturday afternoon I had the chance to walk a stretch of shoreline and enjoy the day. Luckily some tiny shorebirds were feeding on insects upon some decaying seaweed and allowed me to approach quietly. Identification of sandpipers and other small birds can be quite challenging so I spent a considerable amount of time with my bird guides and the Merlin app on my phone.

(Submitted by Ed Robinson, September 16, 2020)
I was in my kayak off Haskell island and was passed by a deer swimming furiously from the direction of Bailey Island. The first shot is the deer in open water, and you can see the lighthouse on Halfway Rock off in the distance. The second shot is the deer after safely climbing ashore on Haskell.

(Submitted by John Oram, September 15, 2020)
Spiders have been busy! These webs really stood out on a recent foggy morning.

(Submitted by Lynn Knight, September 14, 2020)
Nesting season is done for our favorite songbirds, and annual migrations are well underway. Ruby-throated hummingbirds often depart in August, the colorful warblers follow along in September and waterfowl begin their journeys throughout the autumn months. We only have to wait until March to begin welcoming back our feathered friends.

(Submitted by Ed Robinson, September 9, 2020)
Have you observed any animal sightings that are out of the ordinary?

CLICK HERE to check out Ed Robinson's recent article on animal oddities!

(Photo by Rejean Bedard, iStock, September 9, 2020)
Wonderful things to see in Otter Brook Preserve! Some are so well disguised that you would not see them if they hadn't moved.

(Submitted by Gina Snyder, September 7, 2020)
Caught a couple photographs of what I thought was maybe a mink but now think could be an otter along the shore on Orr's Cove, I didn't get a chance to see the tail, which I guess is a good way to tell, but a website says: "Note the habitat. An otter-like animal swimming in a coastal area is probably a sea otter. One in or near a river or lake could be an otter or a mink."

HHLT asked Ed Robinson, our resident wildlife expert and here's what he said: "It's hard to judge the scale but I am almost certain it is a mink. It's not large enough to be a fisher and the shape and coloring is wrong for a river otter. I have seen them foraging along the shore as this one is doing so it fits the profile."

(Submitted by Gina Snyder and answered by Ed Robinson, September 6, 2020)
I thought you might be interested in these photos of a hummingbird that was frequenting our feeder in Harpswell this week. It apparently is a leucistic or piebald, and in my decades of feeding and observing hummingbirds I have never seen one. The pictures may not show it clearly, but its back is nearly pure white. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen it in the last two days, so it seems to have moved on.

(Submitted by Gary Downes, September 2, 2020)
Small-flowered gerardia (Agalinis paupercula) has been blooming along roadsides, in meadows and fields, and along wetland edges. You can see some along the grassy open trail on the South Loop at Otter Brook preserve. It is a lovely native plant with five-petaled flowers that are fused to form a cup or tube.

(Submitted by Lynn Knight, September 2, 2020)