This is our second email to the Harpswell Nature Watchers!

As you know, Harpswell Heritage Land Trust has launched a community nature journaling initiative. Click here for more information about the initiative.

Next Tuesday, June 5, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. you'll have a chance to make your own hand-stitched nature journal at Harpswell Heritage Land Trust, 153 Harpswell Neck Road.

You will choose from a variety of pages to create your journal, including blank pages, pages with writing or drawing prompts and pages with dates and years pre-printed to allow you to compare year to year (similar to The Naturalist’s Notebook). Once you arrange your pages, you will choose a decorative cover and sew the book together. You are welcome to show up any time between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m., and making a journal won’t take the whole time. This is a great activity for all ages, and there will be page inserts geared towards both adults and children. No need to sign up in advance – just show up. There is a $2-5 suggested donation per journal

Guidance and inspiration for nature watchers is shared through this email list and our Facebook group: Harpswell Nature Watchers. We encourage you to post your own observations to the Facebook group!

We encourage you to forward this email to friends who might be interested. If this was forwarded to you and you want more, click here to sign up for emails.

The following posts are from some of our local Harpswell Nature Watchers.
Red Trillium ( Trillium erected) blooms in May along with Trout Lily. It has an unpleasant odor and is also called Stinking Benjamin. Another name is Wake-Robin, as it blooms about the same time that American Robins start to sing and establish territory.
Bunchberries are blooming right now. This plant is a member of the dogwood family—the resemblance in leaf and flower shape to the dogwood tree many of us our familiar with is easy to see. What looks like four white petals of the flower are not petals at all, but bracts, which are modified leaves. The actual flowers are tiny and clustered in the center of the bracts. View them with a hand lens or flip your binoculars upside down to get a close look at them. There is another interesting aspect of these flowers. Mary Holland, in her book Naturally Curious explains “Each flower has one petal with a bristle-like extension that, when triggered by an insect, releases an explosion of pollen.” It’s amusing to think of a bee getting “slapped” with pollen as it is drinking nectar from these tiny flowers.
Some things in nature are reasonably predictable, and others really catch you off guard. We put out the hummingbird feeder last week and within one day were enjoying the snappy flight maneuvers of several ruby-throated hummingbirds. While driving past a vernal pool one evening, I rolled down the window to listen to spring peepers and wood frogs calling to potential mates. While fishing in a remote section of northwestern Maine last week, we were stunned to see not one, but two Canada lynx walking slowly along logging roads, looking for mates or snowshoe hares. Fewer than 1,000 of these gorgeous cats are estimated to live in Maine.
Today I saw my first eider ducklings of the year, tiny little fuzz balls paddling full tilt to keep up with their mother. They will grow quickly in coming weeks, but some of them will become a meal for predators like gulls and eagles. A great blue heron rested in a tree out front for about one hour, apparently waiting for low tide so she could wade in the mud flat looking for tasty crustaceans.
Have you seen Jack in the Pulpit ( Arisaema triphyllum) blooming this spring? It is hard to spot because it is mostly green. It is found in moist forests and along swamp edges. It is a member of the Arum ( Araceae) family. Plants in this family have flowers that are borne on a stem called a spadix that is surrounded by a single modified leaf (or bract) called a spathe. Calla lilies and skunk cabbage are also in this family. Its common name is said to depict the preacher Jack (the spadix) in his pulpit (the spathe).

In her book Naturally Curious, Mary Holland explains that this plant will change the sex of its flower in any given year based on how much food it has stored in the previous year. After a “lean” year, the plant will conserve its resources by producing a male flower, which takes less energy than the seed-bearing female flower. Another interesting thing about this plant is that it is easy for insects to crawl down to the flowers that are tucked in the bottom of the spathe, but it is more difficult for them to exit., so some become trapped. Female flowers clustered on the spadix look like small green berries whereas male flowers are white-ish and thread-like. If pollinated, the “pulpit” falls away revealing a bright red cluster of berries in the fall.

The berries and leaves of the plant are considered poisonous if eaten and can also irritate the skin because they contain calcium oxalate crystals. Native Americans ate the starchy corms of the plant after drying and cooking them to remove the toxins. Thus, this plant is also referred to as Indian turnip.