Weekly Notes, August 11, 2013

Wild maine blueberries

Wild Maine Blueberries

Reports of the early season rains and heat did not make for a lush crop of wild blueberries this year.  I did find a small patch while out exploring that had enough ripe berries to pick a few.

This is the week to catch a falling star!  The Perseid Meteor Shower will peak with the best viewing between midnight and dawn on Monday and Tuesday.  To read Bernie Reim’s August astronomical report for August from the Portland Press Herald click here …..

Once again the weather did not fail a newsworthy event, this picture of hail was taken last Sunday in No. Aroostook County.

Hail No Aroostook County

Hail in No. Aroostook County on August 4, 2013

Mid-August is the height of the season for Mainah’s as well as those from away to enjoy Maine Nature.  There have been reports that the traffic coming into the state from neighboring New Hampshire has been especially heavy bringing with it the concern of invasive species hitching a ride with unsuspecting folks.  Throughout all of the Northeast States the movement of firewood is prohibited across state lines to prevent unwanted pests from expanding into new territory.

This week we will learn about something that is not in Maine Nature and hopefully never will be….the Emerald Ash Borer.  A native of Asia, it was first discovered in the Detroit, Michigan area in 2002 after arriving undetected in the packaging of imported goods.  Since then, it has spread throughout the northeast and Canada causing concern enough for the Maine Forest Service to actively monitor for its presence.

Have you seen any purple 3-sided kite-like traps hanging in trees?  Fortunately the traps have turned up empty in Maine and hopefully that will continue to be the case.  The single most important thing everyone can do is to burn firewood near the location where it was harvested and not transport it.

As its name indicates, this species is specially adapted to ash trees in the Fraxinus family of which there are White, Green and Black Ash in Maine.  Mountain Ash and the ornamental European Ash are of a different family.  Unlike in Asia, the Emerald Ash Borer is highly destructive and will quickly kill a tree once it is infested by feeding on the active nutrient layer that lies just below the bark.  Once the flow of nutrients from the roots has been cut off, the top of the tree begins to die and is not able to recover.

Emerald Ash Borer is a metallic green and about a 1/2 inch in length.  The larvae create S -shaped galleries under the bark and when mature leave D shaped exit holes.

This is a picture I took last month of a Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula) with two ducklings on Frost Pond in T3R11.  Many folks are confused by the ducklings believing they are loon chicks because of their coloration.  They don’t realize that loon chicks are a drab grey color until their adult breeding plumage comes in during their second summer unlike these chicks that look very much like the parent even before the flight feathers come in.  In flight Goldeneyes have a short neck and prominent white wing patches and their wings whistle.  They are common on inland lakes and ponds where they dive to feed on small fish, crayfish and invertebrates.  In winter they can be found in coastal bays and rivers that do not freeze.

It is fun to sit quietly on a dock while a mother duck brings her young brood past, suddenly they will disappear under the water only to pop back up again in a new place.  Golden eye with ducklings