Friday, September 22, 2023

Sensational Nature

A friend gave me the most amazing book of patterns recently, called Dynamic Form in Nature by David Wade. It just "belongs" in my hands! Here are a few pics to show more of my affinity for patterns in nature.

This might be the type Variegatus, a cop-out of a name

One kind of pattern is called Filices (fernlike formations)

Here are some mosses trying to be fern-like

And this one is called Bruised Apple😀

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Pleated Inkcap

Petite and delicate, this Pleated Ink Cap looks as if it's trying to be an Aster. They appear overnight after rain and disintegrate rapidly. Before the pleats split open, they resemble cocktail umbrellas - they're called Parasola plicatilis.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Leaf Blush

I always think these Indian Cucumber Root (Medeola virginiana) leaves look as if they're blushing about the overtly voluptuous fruit they produce. It's a beautiful understory native.

A flush of crimson

Splashed across the leafy whorl

Beneath the bold fruit

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Larval Stalactites

These critters hanging down as they saw away in unison along Speckled Alder leaf edges are probably Sawfly larvae. It looks as if you can see the munched up green leaves through the skin of some of them! They go through several larval stages and are distinguished from caterpillars (single larval stage only, in moths and butterflies) by having more than 5 pairs of prolegs, and they lack the crochet hook ends to these legs. (Now, will I remember that? I'll try ...)

Monday, September 18, 2023

Free Bird

This very dainty Pine Warbler sat on our window ledge to recover after clonking into one of our windows. And then it flew away, free! So glad it was okay. It was the best way to see it up close. Lucky me!

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Chester the Flying Chipmunk

Chester Chipmunk climbed onto the back of his trusty friend, Molly Mallard, just before Hurricane Lee struck Maine. He was leaving his mate and kids behind without so much as a stash of fresh acorns to tide them over, but he was so sick and tired of dealing with waterlogged passageways, bedraggled newborns and fungus growth all over their food supply that he couldn't take it anymore.

He wanted a fresh start without all that baggage and commitment. He'd forgotten to pack his Superman cape for their journey, and Molly was struggling to stay the course against Lee's gusty winds, which met them as they flew south. They were being buffeted about so much that they weren't making much headway, so they decided to fly back to retrieve his cape in the hope that it might give them more lift and steering capabilities. 

Back home though, they discovered that not only had the storm petered out with barely any rain, but that his partner Chichi had bundled their babies up in his cape and moved them away to a more elaborate set of tunnels in the LEE of the bank. She'd etched a note on an acorn shell with her teeth telling him of her decision to move into more luxurious quarters with their neighbor, Chuck. 

Chester's selfish behavior had forced her hand, leaving him forlorn, and lonely. Molly had no time for him in the aftermath either, since she was busy preening and sprucing up her feathers ready for her imminent migration. But luckily for Chester, the homeowners had no physical damage to their property and they hadn't lost power for very long (except for the hour in which they were busy making waffles), so they were still handing out sunflower seeds to the needy. He decided to settle back down in his home territory where free handouts made life easy for him, but he also realized that modern parenting trends, where males were equally involved, was not for him.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Friday, September 15, 2023

Dinner Hunt

Stealth flier glides in

Feet down, wings folded to land

Dinner hunt begins

Thursday, September 14, 2023


On a long survey paddle on which I'd become disheartened at having found Najas minor (invasive European naiad) growing, I was greeted by a fantastic sighting of an Osprey perched on a dead tree above me. I was loathe to chase it off with my fumbling and rummaging about for my camera, so settled for mostly watching it. I was able to get a few shots as I approached and I was thrilled that it did not fly off. 

I paid for my dalliance in having to paddle like an Olympian to get home before a potent convectional thunderstorm struck. One person on the lake wondered if they'd just seen the Northern lights when the lightning came!

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Guessing Game

 This pattern caught my eye - isn't it unusual!

Can you guess what it might be?

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Admire the Admiral

These 2 butterflies with different wing patterns are the same species: the blue one in the first photo is the southern version called a red-spotted purple. 

The white banded one in the second pic belongs to the northern population called white admirals (Limenitis arthemis).
This tribe of butterflies hold their forelegs curled up when they land (seen in this photo - that's not its proboscis), and their antennae out straight
We also noticed that their flight was very low to the ground, and occurred in short bursts most of the time, making them very hard to follow around or predict where they might land.

Monday, September 11, 2023

Metallic Berries

The metallic blue of these dogwood berries in the sun drew me to them. They almost looked as if they'd been sprayed with a glossy coating. Oh, and this shrub is called Silky Dogwood, Cornus amomum.

The berries turn white as they mature, and aren't known to be very palatable to humans (a pity, since I like to forage, and these are plentiful)
It can be a very useful aid in preventing excess runoff from properties around lakeshore edges.

PLUS, check out these benefits from Leaves for wildlife:
Host plant for 111 types of caterpillars, including the spring/summer azure butterflies, and io and definite tussock moths. Butterflies nectar at its blooms. Its fruits are eaten by songbirds, ruffed grouse, quail, turkey, chipmunks, black bear, foxes, white-tailed deer, skunks, and squirrels. The foliage is browsed by white-tailed deer. Members of the genus Cornus support the following specialized bees: Andrena (Gonandrena) fragilis, Andrena (Gonandrena) integra, and Andrena (Gonandrena) platyparia. Its low-growing habit provides important cover and nesting sites.

Saturday, September 9, 2023


Coral in my yard again! Not the ocean type, this is the fungus with a fruiting body that resembles coral. The colorful fruiting body we see is only a very small part of the organism - the rest is an extensive underground network that colonizes nearby plant roots and creates a vast mat through which nutrient exchange occurs. (Maybe it's a little like seeing the hair on our heads, but the inner workings of our brains and neurons are not visible to any of us, yet each part needs the other to function).

Digging up and excavating the forest floor destroys these valuable pathways, affecting much more than just the areas targeted.

Ouch! It's painful to imagine.

Thursday, September 7, 2023

On The Road

Scenes like this are always worth pulling over for when you're on a 5 hour journey ... I guess the cows are wondering what we're looking at! Don't they know Katahdin is in the other direction?

Isn't Katahdin spectacular! SO majestic a mountain, no wonder it was called "Great Mountain" by the Penobscot Native Americans!

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Portage Lake, Day 3

Heavy rain was in the forecast so we had to make alternative plans to accommodate the weather. It initially seemed as if it wouldn't materialize,

but by the time these 3 Loons came by, the rain had started pitting the water surface.

It came down in buckets while we were conducting our plant workshop under the town pavilion (about 4% of the town's population turned up - there are only 360 residents).

 We had to pause the instruction while the local train idled near the road crossing so the driver could pop into a diner to get breakfast!
The community response to our effort was especially heartwarming - they were so appreciative, and thankful, and laid on an evening meal for us at their community center - it was quite special to see a community come together like that. Another resident dashed off to the package store and delivered beer and wine to our cabins for us to enjoy after a day of surveying.
I was especially sad that we had to leave early to get back home to other commitments. Having the opportunity to survey a remote Maine lake with such dedicated and knowledgeable people has been the highlight of my plant patrolling experience. It was exciting being with a bunch of like-minded, passionate, amateur botanists that I describe as quirky. Dale thought non-neurotypical was the more appropriate term, to which one person responded, "no, we're all just effing nuts!"

I'm looking forward to next year's expedition already!

AND VERY IMPORTANTLY, we didn't come across any invasive aquatic plants!

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Portage Lake, Day 2

Such a colorful scene for a survey, despite the heavy clouds and threat of rain.
I love this mucilaginous gel under the Watershield leaves

The layers of habitat and diversity here are phenomenal
Katahdin in the distance, with a beaver's Katahdin in the foreground
The green floating blades of burr-reeds on the water's surface look so luminous

Monday, September 4, 2023

Portage Lake, Day 1

Some scenes from a trip to Portage Lake in Northern Maine (Aroostook Co.) to survey for invasive aquatics. Here's a rough idea of what 4 of us covered in an afternoon:

It was a thrill to experience such a beautiful, pristine lake.
I loved learning about different (and native!) milfoils. Still so much to learn.
I got to hear (and see) my first beaver tail slap - so awesome!
We were treated to some beautiful sunsets from camp
The cabins we stayed in were luxurious and well equipped