Please enjoy our November edition!

What are you seeing out there? We'd love to hear from you! The following posts are from some of our local Harpswell Nature Watchers. All of the contributions below are seen immediately in our Facebook group. Click here to join.

Click here for more information about Harpswell Nature Watchers.
Long Tail Ducks on Middle Bay and Orr's Cove.

(Submitted by Gina Snyder, November 28, 2020)
You may wonder why birds ignore fruit hanging on crab apple trees and winterberry bushes right now. These fruits can be unpalatable to some species in the autumn and early winter. But after a few weeks of cold weather, flocks of birds will find them very attractive and normally strip the food within a matter of hours.

(Submitted by Ed Robinson, Photo by Curt Chipman, November 25, 2020)
Looks like the Mergansers are back!

(Submitted by Gina Snyder, November 23, 2020)
The Pine Grosbeak is a boreal species that leaves northern Canadian forests each year to overwinter in Maine. The male has red upperparts and the female greenish ones, so they can be considered signs of Christmas. Pine grosbeaks are uncommon, but can be seen with a little persistence. This cooperative female perched for some time in a winterberry tangle at Bowdoin's Schiller Coastal Studies Center on Orr’s Island mid-morning Sunday, November 15th.

(Submitted by Jeff Stann, November 15, 2020)
After the leaves fall from the trees and the understory of shrubs and herbaceous plants retreat into their winter dormancy, one begins to notice the more subtle designs in the landscape. Lichens are one of those quiet, fabulous little organisms that move more toward center stage at this time. Here are three of my favorites – British Soldiers (Cladonia cristatella), Pink Earth Lichen (Dibaesis baeomyces), and Reindeer Lichen (Cladonia rangiferina).

Lichens do not have leaves, flowers, or roots, but they do have a unique way of getting what they need to survive. Lichens are two organisms living together—a fungus and an algae. The fungus lacks chlorophyll and therefore can’t make its own food, but it can absorb nutrients directly from rain water and the air; it also can dissolve rocks with acids to obtain minerals. The algae can produce food through photosynthesis, but needs a surface on which to grow. So, the fungus supplies the structure and nutrients, and the algae produces the carbohydrates. This symbiotic relationship makes it possible for two alga and fungus species that could not survive on their own to flourish together.

(Submitted by Lynn Knight, November 14, 2020)
The Buffleheads are back on the water at Long Cove and were accompanied by a larger, unidentified black duck which seemed to have a white wing stripe on one side but not the other.

Nice! White-winged scoter. You can read more about them when you click here!

(Submitted by Gina Snyder, Answered by Colleen McKenna, November 12, 2020)
With winter on the way, Maine's short- and long-tailed weasels are completing a molt that turns them from brown to white. Only their eyes, nose and the tip of their tail will be black. If snow is late in arrival, the weasels are more vulnerable to predators in this white fur. I have to laugh at the nuthatches when they visit my seed feeders. It seems they drop more seed on the ground than they carry away. The nuthatches visit the feeder repeatedly since much of the food they carry off will be tucked into crevices in tree bark for later use.
(Submitted by Ed Robinson, Photo of Nuthatch by Ed Robinson, Weasel photo from iStock, November 11, 2020)
Pine siskins are a sign of autumn in Maine. They’ve been coming through Harpswell for the past several weeks, often in flocks of 15-25 birds, cleaning out any feeders in sight. They are the same size as the goldfinches that are here year round and colored similarly to a female goldfinch at first glance, but closer examination reveals a streaked breast, very pointed bill, and a pale yellow chevron on the wing.

I spotted this immature bald eagle continually flying over a pond and diving after two Buffleheads. The ducks kept diving just before the eagle reached them six or seven times, depriving it of breakfast.

(Submitted by Jeff Stann, November 11, 2020)
I love this beautiful time of year even though it gets a bit colder. The American larch trees (also known as tamaracks) have lovely golden "needles" now that will soon fall to the ground. An early or late sun through the trees warms your soul. Amphibians like the toads are getting set for winter by going underground or burying themselves in pond mud.

(Submitted by Ed Robinson, Photo by Tulle Frazer, November 5, 2020)