Weekly Notes March 17, 2013

loon eating crabMature loons have completed their winter molt and are ready to migrate to northern waters as soon as ice-out begins.  The loon pictured was seen on the tidal waters near Kittery, Dma&g map 1 eating a crab.



Woodcocks have begun to arrive, you can hear their nasal ‘peent’ and mating flight just after dark.  Song Sparrows and Piping Plovers have been reported among the early migrants.  Notice too the change in song and behavior of year-round resident birds as they begin to mate and find nesting territory.

Spring Reflection

Spring Reflection


The melting ice is pulling away from the shallow ponds where frogs and salamanders will soon emerge on warm rainy nights.  While we wait, it is a time to notice the reflection of the stark winter trees against the brown leaf litter covering the delicate creatures buried in the mud and know there is renewal amid the decay.





Spring will officially arrive this week with the Vernal Equinox on March 20th at 11:02 a.m.  This is the day that the sun crosses the celestial equator, rising due east and setting due west, giving us approximately equal hours of daylight and darkness.

If you are handy with a compass you know that there is a variation between True North and Magnetic North which is called Declination.  On the Equinox, the sun rises Due East at 90 degrees True and sets Due West at 270 degrees True.  If you sight your compass to the point of the sunrise or sunset on this day, you should see the difference in the Degrees of the Declination from Due East or Due West to your location.  Below are 4 locations in the state with the Declination obtained from the USGS topo maps that when added to the True reading, determine the magnetic reading that shows on your compass.  For example in Kittery 90 (true) + 15.29 (declination) = 105.29 magnetic compass reading.  Have some fun and give this a try.

Magnetic North is not a constant point and declination should always be checked prior to backcountry trips.

Here is a sample of current declination across Maine.

Kittery, Dma&g map 1 has a declination of +15.29

Quoddy Head, Dma&g map 27 has a declination of +17.29

Frost Pond T3R11, Dma&g map 50 has a declination of +17.08

Allagash Dma&g map 66 has a declination of +17.39

To find the declination for your area Click Here for the USGS store… for free downloads of their quadrangle maps, the declination is on the lower left corner.


Next Sunday, March 24th is Maine Maple Sunday.  Click here for a list of Sugar Houses open to the public...

Dawn Brown at Second Chance Bear Rehabilitation took in 4 cubs on March 1st.  Below is a short write-up from Dawn.  Her website is BeartoDream.org

These 4 particular cubs that I received this year, the sow took off during the den study; though it is not common, it does happen on occasion and this particular sow did not come back.  She is actually a difficult bear in the study, being prone to abandon her den and also get startled very easily; though the biologist did get her with the dart, she still took off.  Oddly enough it is the same mother of the bottle babies I got last year.  She went into estrus last summer and was bred because she did not have cubs with her, sows typically get bred every 2 years because they stay with the cubs for 16/17 months… her collar is going to be removed.

Typically it is more prone for first time mothers to abandon dens but sow bears can too be disturbed with logging operations on occasion and/or any other disturbance for that matter.  It is sad when they are not found but I certainly believe anyone who is aware that a den has been disturbed would either call a Game Warden or Biologist so that they could contact me and I then would be able to give the cub and/or cubs a second chance.  Sometimes the sow will come back, but obviously not always and too at times a surrogate sow may be found for an orphan if she has the carrying capacity to handle an extra cub.  Surrogate sows were found for all 4 of these cubs.

Bob Duchesne has an excellent interview with Dawn Brown from Second Chance Wildlife Rehabilitation & Randy Cross, the Bear Biologist from IF&W.  Click here and listen to Bob Duchesne’s Wild Maine parts 3,4 & 5 on 92.9 The Ticket Sports Radio...

A weather phenomenon occured in Maine this past week known as Virga.  It happens when precipitation falls from clouds but evaporates before it reaches the ground.  Rain was reported throughout the state but as the saying goes, we aren’t out of the woods yet.