Weekly Notes – October 6, 2013

Fall New Growth in skidder path

new growth in a skidder path

The forest is never a static environment and regeneration quickly takes over after a logging harvest providing new habitat for a variety of forest species.  Many plants, birds and animals depend on these areas of regeneration for their survival.

I followed a trail meadering through a hardwood ridge that had been harvested about 3 years ago and decided to explore a skidder path.  This is an area that would have been used to skid the logs out of the woods to then be delimbed, cut to length and stacked for loading at a future time.

If you look closely at the picture, you will see raspberry bushes in the foreground, young hardwood trees along the edges and a few mature trees in the distance.  In the center of the picture is a Red Maple that has quickly regrown from the cut stump.  Now lower your gaze just below that Red Maple into the shadows and notice that a large animal has created a path through the middle of the raspberries.  I was pretty certain it was the yearling moose whose tracks I’ve been seeing for few weeks now.

Moose Track Yearling

Moose Track

Following the trail in a ways, I wondered why the moose preferred this area, and began to look for signs of its behavior.  Sure enough, I found several places where the moose had bedded down and where it browsed on an elderberry bush.  Look closely at the stem on the left that has been torn off.  Moose, like deer only have lower front teeth and tear the branch in an upward motion leaving a ragged tip.

elderberry browsed by moose

Elderberry browsed by moose

Looking past the Elderberry you can also see that the Goldenrod is past bloom however the Pearly Everlasting is holding on.  Pearly Everlasting prefer sun and dry soils and can also be found growing in old pastures.

On my way out of the woods, I was excited to think that unlike many places I explore along the southern coast of Maine, the north woods is still free from dog and deer ticks.  However, I realized something was sticking into my leg and it was about 50 single seeds from the Bristly Buttercup clinging to my dungarees!  Called an achene, the single seed has a tiny hook that catches on the fur of the animal traveling by and gets a free ride to a new location.

As I was coming out of the woods path, I noticed the stark white ‘Doll’s Eyes’ of the White Baneberry.  Although most of the berries will soon be gone, the distinctive thick red stalk may linger well into the winter months long after the leaves have died back.  Look for them under hardwoods about 1 – 2 feet high.  Curiously, they are members of the Buttercup Family but do be mindful the plant and berries are toxic.

Click here for Bernie Reim’s Astronomy report for October courtesy of the Portland Press Herald….

The new moon was on the 4th, watch for the Waxing Crescent just after dark this week in the west.  Meanwhile, step outside in the crisp air and observe the stars and constellations.  There were Northern Lights reported this past week and I saw a beautiful falling star early in the week, one never knows what they might miss if you don’t take a moment to go out and observe day or night!  As always, your observation reports are welcome and will be included in the weekly notes.

Can anyone identify this beetle?  It was found on a Red Maple leaf and has a very interesting black and yellow pattern.

Black and Yellow mystery beetle

Mystery Beetle