Monday, October 31, 2022

Muddy Incident

Our lake level has been dropped for repair work to begin on our dam. But it keeps raining, and the rivers flowing into the lake are delaying the full drawdown that the repairs require. There's still so much to lure me out there, so I keep trying.

The mud is staying wet, and I can no longer reach the lake water from my cove, so I've been launching from a neighbor's shore. Alas! Even with wellington boots and snowpants (to keep dry and warm!), the mud sucked me in enough that I lost my balance trying to free my leg (without taking my boot off), and I toppled over into the mud. Signs of my struggle:

I had to pile branches and brush up against the side of my kayak in order to get in, and then had to sit in my kayak with a muddy behind - most uncomfortable. Hmm, looks like an elephant after having a mud bath!

And this is where the deeply embedded muddy fingernails came in ...

Upon my return, I beached at another friend's shore, a rocky one this time, in the hopes that I won't have a repeat performance of the mud negotiation.

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Hemlock Loopers

I was carrying my compost bucket to my outdoor pile when a white fungus-sy looking pattern on a brown oak leaf drew my attention. It seemed as if two leaves were stuck together, so I picked them up to take a pic in the sun, and when I leaned down to take a photo of the pattern, I saw this:

... the hemlock looper moth (Lambdina fiscellaria), perfectly camouflaged against the fungus and veins of the oak leaf! Isn't it magnificent?

This moth, in the family Geometridae, is native to North America - they lay their eggs in the leaf litter. This species can be responsible for widespread defoliation of hemlock, spruce and fir stands when the insects have a bumper year, sometimes decimating a forest population to the point that the trees die off. In fact, while looking up info about the stands of spruce boughs covered with beard fungus at Harriman Point recently, the hemlock looper was thought to have been involved. 

As for the white fungus on the oak leaf, it can be from having had heavy rains in the fall, when leaves stay wet longer, and stick together.

I like that the fungus highlights the details of the leaf cells and structure. So much to discover, see and learn in my own backyard! It looks fantastic with light behind it. And, yes, my fingernails are full of mud from a kayak 'incident.'

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Vibrant Fall

Returning home after a vacation can be a rough transition, but when you're greeted with fabulous sights such as these, there's absolutely nothing to complain about. While I loved experiencing new sights and adventures, I couldn't wait to get back out on my own lake to check on 'my' plants.

Such dramatic plays of light and intensity dizzy the senses!


Friday, October 28, 2022

Lake Drawdown

Squirrels forage with

Turkeys at the water's edge;

Sponges, algae die.

*Photos taken Oct 18; water level has dropped a lot since then

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Inflata Hunting

Once back home, I was on a mission to determine whether the Swollen bladderwort had begun flowering in the sheltered coves I found them in last year at this time. Of course, there were traces of the plant leaves everywhere, but I was on the lookout for the white inflated radial arms and yellow flower rising from the water's surface.

A piece of Utricularia inflata leaf floating atop a lilypad

I was lucky to find what I was looking for before the scheduled water drawdown (beginning Oct 10) for dam repairs began to have an impact.

And bingo! I found my first solitary plant in flower on Oct 12 in the same cove as my original discovery - what a beauty!

Four days later I was lucky enough to find 2 more locations, that had groups of 5 and 3 flowering plants - woohoo, was I excited! They can be floating up against the edge plants, or floating alone in an expanse of water.


They really are quite striking and bold up close. While they are not regarded as native to the Northeast, these incredible carnivorous plants have been found thriving in northerly areas more and more. The discovery of this plant in our lake in 2021 is a newly discovered expansion, but it appears from the level of establishment and abundance in our water body, that it has been here for quite a long time, probably well over a decade.


This location is the first confirmed occurrence of Swollen bladderwort in Maine, so it's still quite a curiosity. Before I was able to host a viewing party this year, though, the lake drawdown caught up with us and precluded us reaching the shallow areas they flower in. I'm so glad I got these pictures when I did!

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Fort Patterns

We had time to walk through Fort Knox, which is on the same site as the bridge observatory, before heading home. Despite being selected for its strategic placement for defending the coastline, it also had some great scenic views from the armaments.

There were loads of interesting patterns and textures here, which pre-occupied me so thoroughly that I didn't spend much time reading the history information boards.


The best way to look down a cannon!

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Tower Views

The displays in the observatory were very helpful in picking out landmarks and orientating oneself, but the glass reflections were a challenge


Monday, October 24, 2022

Bridge Observatory

The last day of our road tripping vacation was the ONLY day we had to pay an entrance fee! We had decided to go up in the elevator to the tallest bridge observatory in the world, on the Penobscot Narrows. Bear with me in my obsession!

It was well worth it! What a beautiful structure! And it makes so much sense to use one of the towers as a glassed in viewing platform, giving 360 degree views of the magnificent landscape.

For some reason, I found it quite funny that the second floor on the elevator was 420 feet higher than the first floor.

I had a blast photographing this amazing feat of engineering, and the interesting shadows and intersections cast by the cable stays and railings.

Oh, and here's a pic of the bridge in its entirety, taken from Bucksport

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Blueberry Barrens

Our day of evading the sun setting on us in the darkened woods concluded with us chasing the last light on our way home to photograph the spectacular blueberry fields in fall colors. And we JUST made it in time to catch the last rays. I rushed out of the car first, and Dale was able to catch me capturing the gorgeous sight.

The gradation and variety of color amongst these low growing shrubs is phenomenal

And then, after 8 quick shots in the fading light, it looked like this, no longer aglow.

Ahh, what a glorious day!

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Late Bloomers

A new goldenrod for me, and in the most gorgeous setting - seaside goldenrod, Solidago sempervirens (also known as salt marsh goldenrod).

This late flowering plant is a great food source for fall migrating monarchs along the Atlantic coast.

Northern Bay of Bagaduce River, Penobscot, ME
Harriman Point, Brooklin, ME

Friday, October 21, 2022

Lungs, Beards, Ferns and Rocks

I thought the form of this lungwort lichen was quite exceptional - beautiful, colorful and different. It grows in a mixed forest of deciduous and conifer trees, and is unable to grow where air is polluted (cities). 

Lobaria pulmonaria, Harriman Point, ME

Another cool lichen is the old man's beard, or beard lichen, a boreal forest inhabitant favoring spruce trees. It colonizes dead or dying trees, affected by pests or other unfavorable conditions. Note: the lichen is not killing the tree. 

Dolichousnea longissima
And then there was this little delight carpeting the damp, cool forest floor - I think it might be the common fernmoss. You might be walking on its lovely cushiony fronds without even noticing its delicate uniqueness. It makes great nest lining material for birds and small rodents, and is great habitat for salamanders. Plus, it's gorgeous!

Thuidium delicatulum?

The beautiful curves and swirls in this metamorphic rock reminded me of bark on an old tree - so interesting. 

Harriman Point, Brooklin, ME

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Unique Point

Whilst on the Blue Hill peninsula, we decided to explore Harriman Point Preserve before heading home, and boy, are we glad we did; it's a treasure trove of beauty. The 138 acre preserve is managed by the Maine Coast Heritage Trust, which allows hunting ...

It was a magical, mossy walk through coastal forest before reaching the peninsula, which opens out onto almost 2 miles of unspoiled beaches. We were bothered by a few biting bugs along this walk, even in October, and it was the only buggy place during this trip - I can only imagine how torturous it must be in summer!

The coastline was beautiful - undeveloped, with natural rock and shell expanses as far as the eye could see, with unobstructed views of the island and bays around. It felt so remote, and we had it all to ourselves (mostly)!

The large sponge on the bottom right of this picture fascinated me

One can follow the coastal forest edge along this section to get all the way around the point

Low tide exposed a lot of little islands

Crescent shaped beach

It was magnificent, soul-quenching scenery, to be enjoyed leisurely - incredibly serene and picturesque. But as can be seen, the sun was getting low in the sky at this point and the walk back to the parking area had to happen at a brisk pace, before tripping home in the dark became a reality.

The gold rock looks like the frog prince's golden ball

The golden light of day's end was getting weaker as we turned away from the coast but still the woods glowed!
Beard lichen draped along tree limbs, catching the light

A most exquisitely scenic bog!

But not a moose to be seen!