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

Guidance and inspiration for nature watchers is shared through this email list and our Facebook group: Harpswell Nature Watchers.

What are you seeing out there in Harpswell? We'd love to hear from you!

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The following posts are from some of our local Harpswell Nature Watchers.
Beech Bark Disease

If you’ve noticed there seem to be fewer and fewer beech trees with the classic smooth, gray bark, you’d be correct. For many years now a beech scale insect has been attacking the bark of these trees. As the insect feeds, it causes two fungi to produce cankers that disfigure the bark and may ultimately kill the tree. Most beeches in this area seem to be infected. Finding a beech with smooth bark is becoming a challenge. (Contributed by Priscilla Seimer)
Flying squirrels

Flying squirrels are fascinating. These night-time visitors are not uncommon. They visit my feeders in early evening, usually just before the raccoons arrive. Aislinn Sarnacki wrote about them for the Bangor Daily News awhile back. She said Maine is home to both the Northern flying squirrel and its slightly smaller cousin, the Southern flying squirrel. She continued: “flying squirrels are almost as small as white-footed mice…has a bushy tail and strong back legs, characteristic of all squirrels. It also has large black eyes, good for seeing in the dark of night, and flaps of skin between its front and back legs that allow it to glide through the air.” They are quite social, often living in groups and sharing a nest. If you have feeders around your house, watch for these wonderful acrobats as night falls. (Text contributed by Priscilla Seimer. Photo by Jim Rathert)
Bindweed is flowering along the roadside and field edges. This climbing vine is native to Europe, but is fairly common across the US in disturbed areas. It is a member of the morning glory family and will close up at night. This unusual behavior of certain flowers is called Nyctinasty. I did a little research and found that botanists are not certain why some flowers open and close, but it could be to protect the reproductive organs while the activity of pollinators is low—at night, in the rain, or if it is too cold. (Contributed by Lynn Knight)
Be on the lookout for Gray Foxes!

This seems to be the year of the fox. There are two in our neighborhood, and I’ve seen another two out and about. The two in the neighborhood - who may or may not be a pair - are gray foxes. Beautiful, a bit smaller than red foxes, and very interesting.

According to New England Wildlife, by DeGraaf and Yamasaki, this native New England fox is reoccupying much of their former range, generally north of Connecticut. Gray foxes are adept at climbing trees either in pursuit of prey or to escape danger. In Maine, according to Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, this fox is usually found in southern and central parts of the state. Gray foxes eat a variety of of prey animals, and will also eat apples, berries, corn and other fruits. They also eat dropped sunflower seeds below bird feeders, allowing alert photographers a chance to take their picture! (Text and photo contributed by Priscilla Seimer)
Yesterday I saw six mature wild turkey gobblers walking through my yard. The breeding season must be over or those guys would be fighting with each other. A friend reported being scared out of her wits when she stumbled upon a nesting hen in the woods. Look for hens with small poults any day now. (Text contributed by Ed Robinson. Photo by Curt Chipman)