"Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth
find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts."
~Rachel Carson

Please enjoy our November edition of Nature Watchers!

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.
Nature Notes from Maine: Puffins, Black Bears, Raccoons & More

In response to the success of his first Nature Notes book, Ed Robinson has written another book of wildlife essays! The new book, just released in October 2021, is titled Nature Notes from Maine: Puffins, Black Bears, Raccoons & More.

Readers will not only enjoy the stunning photographs and drawings, but also the personal essays on 40 varied species found in Maine. Ed combines detailed information on the biology and life cycle of each subject with humorous anecdotes of his interactions with wild creatures.

The first 100 orders will get a book signed by the author!

Click here to learn more!
I was very surprised to see a Heron at the Bowdoin Coastal Studies Center yesterday - I thought they would have all migrated south by now!

According to the Audubon Field Guide, "with its variable diet Great Blue Herons are able to spend the winter farther north than most herons, even in areas where most waters freeze." To read Ed Robinson's article on Great Blue Herons click here!

(Submitted by Gina Snyder. November 21, 2021)
Red-bellied Woodpecker called and hung around a bit this morning! I haven't seen any since this spring.

(Submitted by Gina Snyder. November 14, 2021)
Long Reach had the most marvelous sunshine after this morning's rain. The reflections were unbelievable! As I was hit with sun glinting at me through the trees on the trail, bouncing into my eyes off the water, I pondered this effect that I'd not seen before. When I got to the shore, I realized that it's never been calm on the reach, so the sun never had the opportunity to shine up into the woods when I've been there before.

Priscilla Steimer, HHLT Stewardship Coordinator, and a team of stewards spent several hours working to improve the trail at Long Reach Preserve. Check out their amazing efforts and maybe you can catch a calm moment by the water.

(Submitted Gina Snyder. November 10, 2021)
I think I might have seen two Minke Whales in Quahog Bay this afternoon. These animals were very large; they were much larger than the harbor porpoises we normally see here, and larger than what I would expect for dolphin. They were across the bay from my house (about a third of a mile away) and I could hear them blow each time they surfaced.

To learn more about Minke Whales and their identifying features click here!

(Submitted by Kathy Miller. November 9, 2021)
Looking out a window early this morning I saw a lot of birds in a tree, but I was looking right into the sunrise so I could not tell what they were. I went out and walked down to where the light was coming over my shoulder and I could see they were Eastern Bluebirds. But they flew off before I could get a decent picture. Then I spotted what I thought was them in another tree, but after taking this picture and blowing it up, I could see that they were a flock of Cedar Waxwings. I have seen one or two of them on occasion, but this was about a dozen, maybe more.

Ed Robinson added that the Cedar Waxwing's range is most of Canada and the US, and some birds stop over in places like Harpswell if food supplies are available, especially fruit (think orchards). Others will range as far as Panama.

(Submitted by Howard Marshall. November 8, 2021)
Roses - Know the difference

In Harpswell, there are three commonly seen wild roses. Only one of them, however, is a native. Multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora) is the one that is very invasive, spreading to create impenetrable, thorny masses—suffocating any other plant in its way! Brought to the US in the 1880’s from Japan, it has white flowers and dense, long, arching branches. This time of year, it has a cluster of small, red berries called rose hips borne on longish stems as shown in the first picture.

The second picture shows the rose hips of Wrinkled rose, also called beach rose or Rosa rugosa. This rose has wrinkled, thick leaves, and very bristly stems. It tolerates dry, sandy conditions, which is why we see it often along our shorelines. Flowers can be pink or white. It was introduced in the 1770’s from Asia and is considered invasive in some areas.

The rose hips of the native Carolina rose (Rosa carolina) are shown in the third picture. This shrub, which is much smaller than Rosa rugosa, is found in dry areas—roadsides, fields—and can tolerate salty, dry shoreline conditions as well. Virginia rose (Rosa virginiana) (not shown) is very similar to Carolina rose. Both have pink flowers and the same small, shrubby growth habit, so the two are a little tricky to tell apart. Rose hips are rich in vitamin C and can be used to make jams or tea.

Raija Suomela added a list to the HHLT Nature Watchers Facebook page of the native roses and places in and near Harpswell where they have been mapped on iNaturalist. For a full list of roses, native and non-native, likely to be found in New England click here!

(Submitted by Lynn Knight. November 8, 2021)
I'm pretty sure this is the same Loon I posted pictures of a few days ago. It was hanging around in Ash Point Cove again today, occasionally diving under the water (fishing, presumably), early in the afternoon just after high tide.

(Submitted by Howard Marshall. November 5, 2021)
A Starfish, or Sea Star as they are also known.

This was at the edge of the water at low tide this evening at the beach at Mitchell Field. It was about nine inches across.

(Submitted by Howard Marshall. November 5, 2021)
The seals were having a lazy day on the ledges east of Devil's Back yesterday!

(Submitted by Gina Snyder. November 3, 2021)