Category: Nature Notes

Follow along on the trail with naturalist Sarah Gladu as she observes the mysteries of nature in the Damariscotta-Pemaquid region.

Skunk cabbage is most noticeable in early spring when its tropical-looking leaves expand in stream-beds and ditches throughout the northeast. These water-loving plants will grow in muddy bogs, swamps, wet woodlands and streambeds. They prefer shade and wet soils, though they cannot tolerate having their roots wet for prolonged periods.

Join Sarah for a walk at Walpole Woods in South Bristol. This upland forest habitat provides wonderful cover and food for all sorts of animals and birds. See tracks left by jumping mice, red and gray squirrel, snowshoe hare, ruffed grouse, fox and more. Sarah also points out interesting plants, trees and other features she encounters along the way.

Winterberry shrubs are easy to spot in Maine this time of year, when its red berries are often the only bright color on the landscape. Look for it in roadside ditches, in and around wetlands, and in soggy spots in the woods. From March to October this shrub is cloaked with dark, glossy, oval leaves, but in the winter the red berries stand out and draw us to take a closer look.

I witnessed an amazing sight last night – thirty nighthawks overhead! They were darting and swooping so high there was no hope of me getting a photograph, but their pointed, swept-back wings with a distinguishing white slash well past the “elbow,” as well as the rounded head with an all-but-invisible beak, makes them easy to identify even far overhead. (…)

Hazelnuts, or filberts as they are sometimes known, are common here in Maine. They are an important food source for rodents, deer, and many birds including grouse and turkeys. They are very tasty but smaller than their European counterpart, which is what you would usually find at the grocery store. (…)

Leucanthemum vulgare is so common we tend to pass it by. A native of Asia, it spread across Europe and eventually North America, perhaps brought by early colonists as seed heads in hay. It tolerates a variety of soil types, can withstand heavy livestock hooves, repeated mowing or grazing and is extremely tolerant of drought and frost. A real survivalist. (…)

You cannot miss a Hobblebush should you come across one. For one thing, its ever-reaching branches may stretch across the understory, directly into the trail right about at shin height, ready to trip you. Thus, the name “tangle-legs.” (…)

Coastal Rivers naturalist Sarah Gladu offers a guided video hike of Tracy Shore. Highlights of this South Bristol preserve are a vernal pool, a rushing stream, deep moss and shoreline along the Damariscotta River Estuary. (…)

Kingfishers or Alcedinidae are a family of small to medium-sized, boldly marked birds in the order Coraciiformes. There are 114 species world-wide, four of which can be found in North America. Kingfishers are identified, even in silhouette, by their large heads, long, pointed bills, short legs, and squared-off tails. (…)

Spring in New England provides us with many wonders and if you are lucky enough to witness “Big Night,” you will never forget it. During the first warm (above 40° Fahrenheit) rains of spring, some frogs and salamander species migrate in large numbers from the forest uplands, where they have overwintered, to the temporary woodland pools where they reproduce. (…)