Thursday, August 31, 2023

Magnificent Macroalgae

If you take time to look, you can find so much intriguing life and beauty in the small things we overlook at the bottom of a pond. 

These macroalgae (large algae that resemble higher plants at a quick glance) live on the lake bottom, and are known as stoneworts. Look at how beautiful they are.

This one is called Chara vulgaris, or common musk grass, as it has a strong, skunky odor when lifted out of the lake. I cut through the 'stem' of one to show the beautiful whorls on which the male and female reproductive structures (spots/dots) are located.

Their whorls glitter like gold in sunny waters. They are eaten by waterfowl, and provide excellent fish and invertebrate habitat, providing both cover and food for their immature offspring.

They are said to be excellent in slowing the movement and suspension of sediments, acting as a stabilizer according to Through the Looking Glass: A Field Guide to Aquatic Plants.

10 out of 10 for Chara!

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Aquatic Community

Pick'relweed leaf spikes,

Crinkly-edged, floating lilies

Bur reeds splayed on top.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Gorgeous Water Garden

What a gorgeous sight to behold today on my kayak wanderings - a natural water garden.

These yellow flowers belong to a bladderwort, a carnivorous aquatic plant that feeds on tiny zooplankton in our lake. It's the fastest plant in the world at catching prey, described as lightning fast. Quite spectacular. Its prey ranges in size from single-celled to mosquito larvae size

You might be able to see some of the trigger hairs that are activated by prey swimming nearby, in this close up photo I took. The second version has been enhanced and annotated to show where to look for the trigger hairs. And yes, up close it looks a bit like an Anjou pear.

The excellent text from the second edition of Through the Looking Glass: A Field Guide to Aquatic Plants explains that some microorganisms can live and multiply within the trap. If the prey is large, it will be digested little by little. "As the negative pressure of the trap is re-established, more of the prey is taken in and digested. This continues until the worm or larva is completely consumed."

Monday, August 28, 2023

Young Cormorant

 Gangly Cormorant

Shifts nervously on the branch,

Dives under with grace.

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Seed Heads

 A variety of different seed heads is on the menu for your perusal today:

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Shadow Art

Pipewort shadows provide a slice of color through the water column, otherwise unavailable. Fun!

Friday, August 25, 2023

Prohibited Beauty

Purple Loosestrife is on Maine's "Do Not Sell Plant List". This means it is "illegal to import, export, buy, sell or intentionally propagate for sale or distribution in Maine." Maine's Invasive Plants

It really is a very beautiful plant, which has contributed to its spread, I guess, as homeowners are reluctant to remove such a prolific and easy-to-care-for beauty from their garden beds. The petals have such a delicate papery-thin look to them. 

The plant establishes easily on roadside edges, ditches, shorelines and wetlands, where it aggressively outcompetes our native wetland plants. Non-native plants are not as beneficial to the long-term health and reproduction of our pollinator insects.

Once it takes root, though, it's very difficult to remove, so do try and remove them before they're established. If you don't manage to pull up the entire root ball, you will have to go back and monitor for regrowth. They can be disposed of by enclosing them in a black bag and then dumped into the trash can.

I've been finding many growing wild along shorelines of Lake Arrowhead this summer.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Painted Bolete

I believe these are edible mushrooms, but with very little flavor to speak of, ie nothing to write home (or a blog) about!

But maybe a haiku will do:

Fresh, Painted Bolete:
Underside with pores, not gills,
Growing near white pines.

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Picking Blueberries

I picked the very best of Maine's blueberries this month - wild, free, full of zingy flavor, and accessible from my kayak. 

Yes, it took a long time to get a yield of 4 cups to make jam and blueberry pancakes, but part of that was because I found many distractions along the way. 

Look at who was at the blueberries too, a hornworm caterpillar.

I was quite taken with its markings and exquisite detail - look at how its feet cling to the branch

I was also spied harvesting nature's bounty by this lazy little Painted turtle, which didn't seem to be alert enough to scamper off when I got close, but it sure looked grumpy.

And this was my view from under the blueberry branches - some deep cloud, but it wasn't raining, so I'll take it.

A most worthwhile venture indeed.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023



These petite, gorgeously understated wetland plants are called pipeworts (Eriocaulon aquaticum). Another common name is seven angled pipewort -  their flower stems have seven ridges that twist along and around the stem, some of which are visible in this next photo.

Many aquatic plants are water- or wind-pollinated, but these little cuties need insects for pollination. They are really tiny, as I hope this last photo illustrates

Monday, August 21, 2023

Cardinal Delights

 I LOVE these flowers! I'm so happy they're happy in my yard

The depth of this red

Incites wonder and delight.

Intensity reigns!

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Beautiful Monster

I see a heavy-lidded monster's face in this intricate and exquisite bloom, a native groundnut, also called potato bean, Apios americana. It is a vine, and needs the support of other plants - this one has a vine-y tendril hanging down.

See what I mean?

Their highly palatable, starchy tubers were once a Native American staple, referred to as Hopniss.

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Which is It?

 Is this the way to Narnia? Or is it the way to Shelob's lair?

Friday, August 18, 2023

Awesome Arrowheads


I can't decide if this is a bug or flower pic!

I stumbled upon a magnificent secret hideaway for Broad-leaved Arrowheads (Sagittaria latifolia) whilst out picking wild blueberries from my kayak. I beached against a very small island, and there off to one side was a well of thriving, flowering Arrowheads. It was spectacular and special, and it felt like it was just for me! I climbed out and reveled in my find.

I felt as if I stumbled into a hidden world that none had yet seen (okay, maybe I read too much fiction!).

And this is why it's referred to as the Broad-leaved Arrowhead:

Compare it to this Arrowhead leaf:

These plants are sometimes referred to as Duck Potato, since ducks love to feed on the edible tubers.

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Noteworthy Caterpillar

This incredibly unique looking caterpillar, in one of its larval stages, is a  mesmerizing display. It's known as the Spiny Oak-Slug Caterpillar (Euclea norba) - despite its name, it feeds on a wide variety of deciduous trees, not just oaks. They are often brightly colored in various hues of green, yellow, orange, or red, not just the brown and white pictured above.

Here is a more colorful one I found a few weeks later

Its body has spines along it that release a toxin when they are touched - it will produce a mild sting or burn for most people. I almost picked it up to move it to a more photographically pleasing background - I guess I'm learning!

It pupates into a chunky brown moth with a green patch on each upper wing.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

A Drenching

Monsoon-like downpours

Pound our rooves, yards and shoreline

Loud and unnerving 

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Busy Sweat Bee or Sweaty Busy Bee

A busy bi-colored female sweat bee with leg pockets full of pollen on my Spiraea tomentosa (steeplebush).

How lovely to see! Her bulging thighs of pollen make her look quite buff!

Monday, August 14, 2023


Monarchs flit lightly

Above towering cattails

Swamp milkweed's the lure.

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Beauty Abounds

Wood nymph moth caterpillar

Trumpet honeysuckle

Utricularia radiata
Broad-leaved Enchanter's Nightshade

Rosy maple moth caterpillar

Tomentose burying beetle