Please enjoy our August 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 think these are solitary sandpipers, despite there being two of them. According to the Cornell Lab: All About Birds, "The Solitary Sandpiper, with its olive-gray wings, black-and-white tail, and bold eye-ring, is a distinctive exception among the many look-alike sandpipers. Its helpful habit of bobbing the back half of its body or trembling its tail (and often feet) while foraging make it instantly recognizable."

(Submitted by Gina Snyder. August 27, 2021)
Some more unusual mushroom features, one with the guttation that Alan Seamans explained on a polypore - this time on the edge, just like dew (previously this same fungus had the moisture coming out all over the underside). Then some that look like thumbs poking out of the ground (At the Bowdoin Coastal Studies Center).

Alan Seamans further explained that the "thumbs" are called a Club Fungus. It’s in the genus Clavariadelphus, and the one in the picture is Clavariadelphus americanus based on the evidence of pine needles in the photo. That’s because Club Fungi are all mycorrhizal and associate with certain types if trees. Clavariadelphus americanus is mycorrhizal with oaks and pines, while the identical Clavariadelphus pistillaris is mycorrhizal with beech.

(Submitted by Gina Snyder. August 27, 2021)
My 9yo was thrilled to find this baby snake in our yard (Orr’s Island)! It’s about the size of an earthworm. We’re guessing this is either a garter or brown snake.

Professor Nat Wheelwright responded that it looks like a northern red-bellied snake. It may actually be an adult; they only grow to about a foot long.

(Submitted by Caroline Smith Loyas. August 23, 2021)
Not very often do you get to see a Turkey Vulture walking along the roadside. Definitely worth a stop! It was interested in something in the road, flew up from Route 24 and landed in a driveway by the roadside, but I could not see anything in the road there!

(Submitted by Gina Snyder. August 21, 2021)
Usually an Eagle will fly off as soon as you get close enough to take a photo. It was the little birds that clued us in, but it was right there on the edge of Orr's Cove and stayed for a photo op!

(Submitted by Gina Snyder. August 20, 2021)
Great Egret! Surprised me as it flew overhead and landed at Stover's Cove Harpswell.

(Submitted by Shannon McGee Grauer. August 19, 2021)
BEE on the Lookout for Rusty Patched Bumble Bees! Click here to read the article from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

(Submitted by Stacy Dean Seymour. August 16, 2021)
Some more fungi - fantastic variety this year!

(Submitted by Barry Coflan. August 14, 2021)
We've been seeing a plethora of polyphores, an effusion of fungi, myriad mushrooms in preserves and trails this past couple of weeks, it's been phenomenal! Perhaps the most convoluted were the black trumpets at Little Pond. But the variety is astonishing! Little coral-like eruptions, arrows, wicked black spiky mushrooms, white capped hat-like ones, little buttons, etc. etc. and also the ghost pipe flowers that appear under similar conditions. And many of them have made a meal for forest critters!

Lee Mattos Cheever also shared a great mushroom picture.

(Submitted by Gina Snyder. August 11, 2021)
We saved a baby bird today! I believe it’s a robin; we found it on the ground near its nest and replaced it. Hopefully its mom will not reject it.

Shani Lynne responded that it's a myth that mama songbirds can smell us on their babies after handling and reject them. They have horrible senses of smell. You gave that baby bird the best chance at survival by locating the nest and replacing it there

(Submitted by Kai Harris. August 11, 2021)
We quite often see Snowy Egrets on our waterfront, and often several at a time. But yesterday morning I saw four Egrets and noticed that one was much larger then the others, almost like a white Great Blue Heron. I had noted a while ago that they are easily distinguished by the fact that Snowy Egrets have black beaks and yellow feet, and Great Egrets have yellow beaks and black feet. A quick check with binoculars confirmed that this one was a Great Egret, as far as I know, the first time we have seen one here and noticed that it was not just another Snowy Egret.

You can see the black feet on the Great Egret in the pictures of it flying, though the contrast with the green seawater background is not great. On the other hand, if that had been a Snowy Egret in flight its yellow feet would have been quite obvious. Several of the pictures show the Great Egret near one or two of the Snowy Egrets, and you can easily see the size difference.

(Submitted by Howard Z Marshall and LeAnne Grillo. August 11, 2021)
Indian pipes (Monotropa uniflora) are flowering now – these were at Otter Brook, but over the years I’ve seen a lot of them along the trails at Long Reach Preserve and other Preserves as well. Not surprisingly, they are also called ghost flower, ice plant, or corpse plant. If you see it, you may think it is a mushroom because of its color and texture, but it is actually a wildflower in the heath family that lacks chlorophyll. Consequently, it can’t produce its own food. It obtains its nutrition through connections between its roots and the roots of nearby conifer trees via mycorrhizal fungi in the soil. The flowers produce nectar and pollen and start out nodding down as in the first photo. If they are pollinated, they will stand upright as seen in the second photo and eventually produce fruit that turns brown when mature. The close-up of it standing erect shows another example of nature’s stunning designs!

(Submitted by Lynn Knight. August 11, 2021)
The Osprey are so good at catching fish! And then they line them up aerodynamically and fly off!

(Submitted by Gina Snyder. August 6, 2021)
This afternoon I heard birds making a fuss, some Gulls and Bluejays, and grabbed my camera and went outside, thinking maybe the Bald Eagles that were around yesterday had returned. I looked around in the area of our backyard where the fuss was coming from, but just saw a couple of noisy Bluejays.

Suddenly a mature Bald Eagle, I suspect the mother in yesterday's pictures, flew out of a tree almost directly over me.

(Submitted by Howard Z. Marshall. August 6, 2021)
Yesterday afternoon I saw a juvenile Bald Eagle land in the shallow water along the opposite shore of the cove. Almost immediately I heard some Gulls making a fuss and watched as they tried to chase it away.

A little while after I took these pictures there was a pair of Bald Eagles on a rock not far from where this one first landed. They seem to be a mother and baby, and the mother had just killed a Gull and was having it for lunch as the baby patiently waited for its meal. From the somewhat unusually dark markings on the dead Gull and one of the Gulls harassing the juvenile earlier, I suspect that the harasser may have become that lunch.

(Submitted by Howard Z. Marshall. August 5, 2021)
The Ragged or Green Fringed Orchid (Plantanthera lacera) is blooming at Otter Brook. I suspect it was in full bloom last week or even a bit earlier, as I only found two and of those only one still had good flowers. Last year I found about six in the same area, so either they did not come up or they are past. The weather stopped me from looking before today.

To find the one noted below, take the Marsh spur, stand on the flat rock at the end, look maybe ten feet (maybe less) out and to the right. The orchid is just in front of some bushes. It blends in really well so it took me a moment or two to find it.

(Submitted by Priscilla Seimer. August 1, 2021)
Blue vervain (Verbena hastata) is blooming in some wet places in our area. It can occasionally be seen in wet ditches along roadsides, but grows more abundantly in marshy areas. A wonderful attribute of Blue Vervain is that the Iroquois apparently used it “to make obnoxious persons go away."

(Submitted by Priscilla Seimer. August 1, 2021)
While I was taking pictures of the Monarch in the lilacs, several Snowy Egrets flew right over me, and I got this picture of one with its wing feathers backlit by the sun, which was almost directly above it.

(Submitted by Howard Z. Marshall. July 31, 2021)
A Monarch was being very photogenic in the lilacs today. They usually perch in the flowers with their wings up, so it was nice to find a rare one that wanted to show off the tops of its wings. It also cooperated by staying in one place long enough for me to get all the settings right for the light. In the second picture you can see the hairs on the top of its body and its antennae very clearly.

(Submitted by Howard Z. Marshall. July 31, 2021)
We have a Clearwing Hummingbird Moth again this year.

(Submitted by Howard Z. Marshall. July 31, 2021)