Weekly Notes March 3, 2013

Hoar Frost

Frosty Morning in T3 R12 Chesuncook Dam Dma&g map 50

Have you ever heard of Hoarfrost?  It happens when the temperature drops to the dew point causing moisture to form as ice crystals sticking to the trees and dried grasses.  It is similar to dew on a summer morning.  If you ever get the chance, bundle up and go out for a walk just as the sun is rising on a frosty morning.  It is magical to see the frost twinkling in the morning light as it falls from the trees.

It’s a sure sign of spring when the tapping begins and Wednesday, March 6th marks the official start of the season with the annual Governor’s Tree Tapping on the lawn of the Blaine House.  In a report to the Maine Legislature in December of 2011, it states that there are 38.5 million Sugar and Red Maple trees growing in the state of Maine.  While we think of Maple syrup as a special treat with Blueberry pancakes, it also contains valuable nutrients, so pour a little more on and read what Arthur Haines has to say about the nutritional value of this natural resource.  Click here to read Arthur’s column posted in Wild Harvest...

Only a few more weeks of snow on the ground for tracking some of our wild neighbors.  These pictures show where a fisher had spent a snowy night in a fallen tree.  Once the storm ended, it walked down the trunk, jumped into the fresh snow and was off on an early morning hunt.  I was fortunate enough to come upon these tracks only a short time later and had a great time following them through the woods.

I was out exploring the Salt Marshes and Barrier Beaches in Kittery, Dma&g map 1, and saw Horned Larks feeding on the marsh and moments later, Horned Grebes feeding just behind the waves on the ocean side.

In the winter months Horned Grebes fly to the open ocean where they molt and do not fly again until spring beckons them to fresh water nesting sites on inland lakes in Maine.

Horned Larks are heard more often than they are seen.  It took me quite a while to locate this flock feeding in the salt marsh.  They blend in with the colors of the dry grass, but their happy twinkling song was telling of their location and I was able to get a few pictures.  Even though we don’t see them often, Horned Larks are a common bird, they usually fly in flocks and fold their wings after each wing beat.  Their song is musical tsee-titi and when on the ground they walk like starlings, not hop like Robins.

In this week’s Almanac, last quarter moon is on March 4th.  Watch the eastern sky in the hours before daybreak for the waning crescent toward the end of the week.  Last month a Meteor  over Russia out shined the news about Asteroid 2012DA14 which passed by the earth, Bernie Reim puts the impact of the meteor in perspective in his report.   Click here for Bernie Reim’s March Astronomy Report published in the Portland Press Herald

The pattern of weekly storms passing across the state continued this past week.  Although rain and warm temperatures melted much of the snow cover along the immediate coastline, inland and north significant new snowfall was reported.  Click here for the current snow depth map….  NWS of Gray reported February as the 3rd snowiest month on record for the city of Portland with 49.5 inches of snow.  Looking back at my notes for February 10, 2013 the NWS reported Portland having the driest January on record, goes to show if you wait a day (or a month) the weather in Maine will change.