The July 7th insect program with Roger Rittmaster sparked my interest again in the six-legged arthropods around us. It was a wonderful treat to see so many dragonflies, butterflies and other insects doing their thing at Central on that bright, sunny Saturday morning. The group was fortunate to have two very enthusiastic young participants that were quick enough to capture the insects in vials so that all could look at them up close. Here are a few images from the program. For other insect images taken in the Bangor area, visit the Insects portion of The More You Know... on our website and send in your shots to add to the site.
When the elevator at 8 Harlow Street was closed down about 18 months ago, we climbed the stairs – four flights of steep stairs – usually more than once a day. It really became a problem when folks wanted to attend the winter programs that we held in our board room but they couldn’t - because of the stairs. After a long search for the right place, I am happy to announce the new office location at 9 Central Street, Suite 201. This is a bright and beautiful space on the second floor right in the heart of downtown Bangor.
Packing up all of our stuff, I wondered if this was really the right decision. How are we going to get everything moved? We have two fireproof filing cabinets, and seven other filing cabinets, a couple of desks, a big boardroom table with chairs, and a lot of records and maps. Can we get all of this stuff down that narrow, turning staircase without killing ourselves? Well, we didn’t think we could do it so we searched for a mover too. Nick with Ron’s Moving & Storage sold us! They could do it for a price we could afford. Friday, August 25th was the big day.
I was reassured that all would be okay when Nick called the day before to see if we were ready. He had answered questions earlier in the week too. Then, all of my reservations went away when I met the crew of five men that moved us. They were absolutely awesome! They worked hard to get the job done quick, but they paid attention to all of the walls around them. It was hot and the climbing was tough, but they had the best attitudes. They were laughing and joking with each other and having a good time. It was amazing to see the teamwork displayed. All of our stuff was inside the new office by 1:15!
Lucy manned the new office that morning in case our phone and cable connector arrived. She got a little bored and called a couple of times to see if she could help in any way. At the time I couldn’t think of a thing but she was definitely put to work when we arrived with all of the stuff! We put a good dent in the boxes and she took away a lot of the empties so we could see what we were doing.
Today I am sitting in an office that has stuff near where it will be, I’ve got a working computer, phone and printer. My scanner is hooked up, I’ve got music playing and my dog, Drifter, is getting acclimated to the new noises and the hardwood floor. Life is good.
Thank you, Bangor Land Trust supporters, for putting up with an office situation that was less than ideal. We sure appreciate your patience. Please stop in and see us when you can. Since I man (woman?) the office alone, I must run out to do errands and the door will be locked. But most of the day on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays I will be here working in the new office space.
For those unfamiliar with Bangor Land Trust, stop in to learn more. We have beautiful trails through places not far away. Stop in for a map or two.
If you weren’t sure that it was spring, yesterday’s warm temps must have convinced you. Yes, there’s still snow on the ground and ice on the ponds but the birds are returning and migrating through. Yesterday, on our morning walk, I heard Killdeer, Eastern Phoebe, and Red-winged Blackbird along with the regulars that spend the winter here. Later in the day a Song Sparrow pair showed up under the feeder and a Common Grackle stopped in to check things out. The diversity of birds we’re starting to see means spring has definitely arrived.
This past weekend a group of birders left from Field’s Pond Audubon Center in three cars and drove to specific locations to view and admire the waterfowl that are either here or going through this area right now. Some birds are waiting for the ice to melt on our freshwater lakes and ponds. The veteran birders set up their scopes for this novice and all others to get a good look at the different species - birds that I had never seen before. It was amazing! They are so beautiful.
I’ve said it before in this blog and will say it again, we are so very lucky to have many expert birders in this area who are willing to share their knowledge. The month of May is filled with bird walks in lots of different locations led by these experts. You can see a schedule of May walks on our website calendar. I hope you can make it to one or two.
Winter can be a great time to look at lichens. You may not be able to see lichens that grow on the ground because of snow cover, but you can see the ones that grow on trees, and if the snow is not too deep, the ones growing on protected rocks.
When trees get old, they grow soft and more absorbent and develop cracks in the bark. You can often find a good diversity of lichens on trees. The older the tree, the greater the diversity. Notice how different types of lichens grow on different types of trees. They like different growing conditions just like trees and other plants.
Lichens grow slowly but can live to be very old. Reindeer lichens live 30 to 50 years and others live to be thousands of years old! If you see a cool lichen while out on a trail, check it each time you visit. Chances are good you’ll see it again and again.
There are three types of growth forms: crustose looks like it’s spray painted onto the substrate surface, foliose is leafy, and fruticose is bushy or shrubby. Take a hand lens or magnifying glass to look even closer. The lichen body (or thallus) is often a different color on top than it is underneath on the leafy varieties. These variations can be ways to identify one species of lichen from another.
While you’re looking close, check for disks or cup-shaped structures (apothecia), surface granules (soredia) and other small growths (isidia) - these are structures that produce and distribute spores. They are also another way to identify the different species of lichens.
Have fun while you’re out hiking, skiing or snowshoeing and stop every now and again to look at the lichens. They’ve always been right there in front of us but often go unnoticed. During the winter when other vegetation forms are covered, lichens are waiting for us to notice them.
Ferns brighten the forest floor of the preserves with their elegant fronds of green. Identifying them is much easier when you know the name of their different parts. Frond, blade, stipe, pinna, and rachis are all parts of a fern. Most good fern field books include a diagram of the parts to help you out. There may be fertile and sterile fronds too, depending on the species, so it helps to know about them. Ferns produce spores instead of seed to reproduce and can be on a frond that looks entirely different or on the underside of a monomorphic fern pinna (leaf). Here are a few that were photographed recently.
Last week I took my car to Quirk Jeep on Hogan Road to diagnose a problem. I had a bit of a wait and it was a beautiful day so I went out back where the birds were singing to a beautiful little section of the Penjajawoc Stream. Bangor Federal Credit Union and an office building off Mt. Hope were visible in the distance. The stream was moving along steadily. I could hear the trickling noises and see the sparkle from the sun on the water.
I walked/slid down the embankment noting horsetail plants in the steep, sandy soil. At the bottom were many types of ferns in the fiddlehead stage, wild columbine and mint. Alder, quaking aspen, pine and birch grew there too.
Many types of birds were singing and flying - cardinal, red-winged blackbird, robin and a yellow bird that kept saying "see see see seeya". A flycatcher flew about grabbing insects and a gray catbird sang contentedly. These shots (taken with a small, light-weight camera) don't begin to show you all that was happening in this hidden little spot. I was amazed and delighted to be there for that time.
You never know what you'll find out back in Bangor. The marsh and stream provide homes for many types of birds and other wildlife. While you're out and about, be sure to look for beautiful little spots like this.
If you like wildflowers, you're in luck. Bangor Land Trust (BLT) will be holding a series of wildflower walks on BLT preserves this spring and summer. Topics such as flower parts, identification, and pollination will be discussed. We hope to see you at one or all of them. The BLT home page or event calendar will supply the schedule.
While you're out on the trails right now, look for red maple, quaking aspen, alder, and beaked hazelnut blooming. The first three trees can sometimes be too tall to see the blooms up close, so if you have a pair of binoculars, be sure to take them along.
The fourth tree mentioned is a shrubby tree. The blooms are small, but the tree grows lower to the ground which makes it easier to see with naked eyes. Beaked hazelnut (Corylus cornuta) grows in open woods and forest edges to about 18 feet tall. The male and female flowers emerge separate from each other. The male catkin produces pollen that is carried by the wind to the red stigma. The photos below show the flowers in early stages of bloom. When you're out on the trail, it may be easier to see last year's fruit (pictured below). It has a very unique shape. There is a hard-shelled hazelnut inside the beaked husk that you see. Birds and rodents (such as red squirrel and chipmunk) spread the seed when they store food for winter.
It may still be a little chilly outside, but there's lots to see in Bangor's Wild Back Yard. Happy trails!
Thanks to Lucy Quimby for sharing these shots from her photo collection.
22 December 2007, Hairy Woodpecker, Picoides villosus
This is a male Hairy Woodpecker getting ready to eat suet. The photo shows the white back detail that this species has and shares with another woodpecker found in this area, the Downy Woodpecker. Hairy woodpeckers are a larger bird than Downy - 9 1/2 inches compared to Downy's 6 1/2. The Hairy has a larger beak than the Downy and clean white tail feathers.
The red patch divided by a black line on the back of the head is another way to confidently identify this bird as a Hairy Woodpecker. The male Downy has a red patch but no black divider. The red patch is absent in the female of both species.
The voice and call of these two woodpeckers are different too. It's fun to learn the differences in their calls. The birds are both fairly loud but are sometimes too far away to see. From my experiences, they like to hide on the opposite side of tree trunks. Hearing a sharp peek! satisfies my curiosity that it is a Hairy.
10 December 2007, Eastern Gray Squirrel, Sciurus carolinensis
Eastern Gray Squirrels are abundant in the Bangor area. They cross the city streets like the wild characters they are, bounding confidently along the ground or more dramatically over power lines and trees, often carrying something to add to their hidden food caches. They generally eat tree bark and buds, berries, seeds, nuts, and fungi. In urban areas they are safer from predators like hawk, racoon, weasel, snake, owl and fox and make their nests, called dreys, out of leaves, twigs and moss on large tree branches or in hollow tree trunks. They are crepuscular which means more active during the early and late hours of the day.
For more about wildlife in the Bangor area, visit The More You Know section of bangorlandtrust.org.
We are stewards that watch over beautiful places. This happened thanks to individuals, organizations, businesses, and the people of Maine – maybe you. The Programs Committee organized 12 programs in 2015, plus there were four events, and many projects that couldn’t have happened without volunteers. We are thankful for them. We’re also thankful for those who attended the programs and events. There were great discoveries and discussions. Getting together is such a good way to celebrate our natural world. We have inherited some pretty wonderful gifts and we need to respect and cherish them forever. And this year the trails were advertised with a trail challenge. Forty-nine people took the challenge and shared their adventures. I'd like to thank them. They brightened my office hours with tales from the trails. It was so fun to see their smiles and helpful to hear about things that need improvement. Thank you for making it all possible, members and donors. We are very fortunate to work with you.
In January, Tim Godaire contacted us about a nonprofit organization called Climate Ride that organizes life-changing charitable events to raise awareness and support sustainability, active transportation, and environmental causes. Through multi-day hikes and bicycle rides, participants raise money for beneficiaries of their choosing (and who have been approved by the folks at Climate Ride). As a regular participant in Pedal the Penobscot, Tim is familiar with Bangor Land Trust and wanted to support us. We did the research, applied to be a beneficiary, and were approved on May 4, 2015.
This year Climate Ride is coming to the Northeast with a 5-day ride from Bar Harbor to Boston. Tim signed up and has been busy fundraising. He currently has just over $3000 toward his $4000 goal! Here’s a paragraph from his fundraising page:
As a student studying climate science I am aware of the urgency and need for climate action, community awareness, and alternative sources of energy and transportation. Participating in the Climate Ride Northeast allows me to raise funds for organizations that address these particular issues within my local community and on a national scale. My financial impact and personal experience is greatly enhanced through an extended ride across states I love and causes sincere to me.
Bangor Land Trust applauds Tim Godaire for his efforts. This land trust is delighted to be listed as a beneficiary with Climate Ride. Their events are well organized and environmentally themed. Here are a few of their upcoming events:
2015 Rides & Hikes
Climate Hike in Glacier National Park | August 24-28, 2015
The NEW Climate Ride Northeast - Bar Harbor to Boston | Sept 17-21, 2015
Climate Ride Midwest | Sept 27-30, 2015
Climate Hike Bryce-Zion | Oct 6-10, 2015
Have a fun and safe Fourth of July weekend!
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