Greetings!

“The trees are in their autumn beauty, The woodland paths are dry, Under the October twilight the water Mirrors a still sky.” William Butler Yeats

Please enjoy our October edition!

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. 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.
I was lucky to get to tag along with HHLT trustees on a visit to the marvelous property at the mouth of Strawberry Creek! HHLT has an opportunity to purchase and preserve this gem of a location. Besides a late-season sandpiper, we saw some excellent examples of quartz veins and the lenses that formed (boudinage) from the temperature and pressures that created the metamorphic rocks. Tiny sea milkwort plants hanging on in the cold and eel grass add to the charm of this shoreline. The historic review of the property is fascinating, and you can read more click here.

(Submitted by Gina Snyder, October 30, 2020)
Seems late to be seeing sandpipers, but there was one near Strawberry Creek just a day or two ago. These birds tend to be solitary when not breeding, here's what Nature Mapping Foundation says, "Greater Yellowlegs are less social than many shorebirds, and small flocks form during migration. Outside of the breeding season, most foraging takes place in shallow water. They often feed actively, running after fish or other fast-moving aquatic prey. The Greater Yellowlegs bobs the front half of its body up and down, a characteristic behavior of this genus."

(Submitted by Gina Snyder, October 29, 2020)
Fall leaves – the colors can be brilliant! Even though this year they seem a bit subdued, they are still beautiful! So, where do the colors come from? The leaf pigments that reveal themselves in the fall were always there, they were just hidden by the green chlorophyll. The leaves change color because deciduous trees form a corky abscission layer at the base of the leaf stems. This action cuts off water and nutrients supplied to the leaves, thereby putting a stop to photosynthesis. The chlorophyll breaks down, unmasking the underlying pigments. Low night temperatures and the shorter days cue the trees to produce the abscission layer. Aspens, striped maples, birches and hickories have yellow fall foliage; reds and oranges can reveal sugar and red maples, sumacs, blueberries, poison ivy, and Virginia creeper; White ash and hobblebush produce lovely purples.

(Submitted by Lynn Knight, October 25, 2020)
Found these interesting mushrooms this morning. The closeup shows the beautiful angular patterns on the surface.

These are called “Spiny Puffballs”. There are several similar-looking species, but I think these are Lycoperdon curtisii. These small puffballs are edible, but with certain conditions. To quote Dr. Gary Emberger: “This species is edible only when the internal spore tissue (gleba) is completely white and uniform in appearance. Care must be taken not to confuse puffballs with young stages of Amanita species which are enclosed by a universal veil. A longitudinal section of a young Amanita will reveal some tissue differentiation into gills. Gills never occur in puffballs.”

(Submitted by Lynn Knight and answered by Alan Seamans, October 23, 2020)
So fun to see foam and iridescent bubbles on the pines at Long Reach this morning! The foam that appeared after the rain was explained in a post from Wonders of Everyday Nature, "Foam forms on the trunks of trees in heavy rains because of chemical interactions similar to those that occur when you make soap. That is, it’s like a simple soap made in nature. On pine trees, foam forms because some of the chemicals found in pine sap are soap-like. On other trees, sometimes foam is formed from a chemical process that is created by the combination of air pollutants and plant materials. The air pollutants land on trees during dry periods and build up. During rains, they interact chemically, forming a soap and run down the trunks, foaming as it hits bumps in the bark."

(Submitted by Gina Snyder, October 17, 2020)
All different types of asters have been blooming for a few weeks now. They are among the last of our floral friends to delight us with their colorful faces before winter sets in. Here are three types that are commonly seen in Harpswell particularly along roadsides and open fields. The first is tall white-aster (Doellingeria umbellata). Reaching heights of two to seven feet, it can tower over its neighbors in meadows or the moist ditches on roadsides. The purple-colored asters and the white ones in the second and third photos are New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) and Small White American Aster (Symphyotrichum racemosum) respectively.

(Submitted by Lynn Knight, October 15, 2020)
The chickadee evidently didn't want to be too close to that amazing beak on the red-bellied woodpecker on my feeder yesterday! It landed so briefly then flew away.

(Submitted by Gina Snyder, October 14, 2020)
Here was a sluggish snake in the woodlands, it barely moved when we almost stepped on it by a stump in the middle of a trail, it didn't leave the spot, must have been too cold!

(Submitted by Gina Snyder, October 4, 2020)
Walking with retired Bowdoin Professor Nat Wheelwright and HHLT’s Stewardship Coordinator, Priscilla Seimer, we spotted this fabulous nest built onto a blue-bird box in a field. Professor Wheelwright explained that it belongs to a white-faced hornet. This time of year, mating takes place, but the queens will not lay eggs until spring. Unfertilized female worker bees and male drones will die after the first hard frost. The fertilized females will borrow underground and emerge in the spring to start new colonies. Another sighting was this orange-bellied snake sunning itself. I’m sorry I don’t have a picture of its orange belly I thought it best to leave the snake undisturbed and slowly back away instead.

(Submitted by Lynn Knight, October 3, 2020)