Weekly Notes – April 14, 2013

Canadian Goose on NestApril is one of the best months to compare the differences in Climate across the state.  While the geese have nested in Kittery, Dma&g map 1, the pond is still frozen over with snow on the ground in the woods west of Mount Katahdin in T3R11 Dma&g map 50.  There is a difference in elevation above sea-level of over 1100 feet and over 2 degrees farther north in latitude.   April ice on Frost Pond T3R11On April 13, the southern portion of the state received rain while the northern portion received snow.  Variations in weather and temperatures will quickly equal out across the state in the next few weeks as the northern hemisphere receives the benefits of the earth’s tilt toward the sun.

The changes brought about in spring are fun to watch or perhaps it is only the anticipation of warm days ahead that draw attention to all of the activity.  Song Sparrows are establishing their territories and White-Throated Sparrows are beginning to call.  Their voices still rusty from winter’s rest will soon fill the air with their soulful song.  These birds scatter away at the least little movement leaving no chance my gaze be confused with that of a hawk.  A house wren came to the feeder this week but it too moved along quickly.

The Gray-Squirrel pictured is nursing her littler high in the trees above, she is feisty and will defend her spot on the feeder until the door handle is rattled and then only cast a glance to see if she should run away.  Her need for food is great and she can rely on the birds to let her know if a predator should appear nearby.Gray SquirrelWatch for the Waxing Crescent Moon in the west this week.  As the snow melts and the ground warms there will be plants growing and flowers blossoming before long.  Maine Nature News is always looking for observations from across the state of Maine, please send any along via email and include a picture if you can.

An observer in Kittery Dma&g map 1 found these Ribbon Snakes basking in the sun, there were several indicating that they may have just come out of hibernation.  Ribbon Snakes are often confused with Garter Snakes, notice that the Ribbons have creamy white around the sides of their mouths.  The yellow stripe on the sides of the body are on the 3-4 scales, counting up the sides from the large ventral scales that cross the belly of the snake.   The tails on Ribbon Snakes are long and thin extending 1/3 of the overall length of the animal.  These snakes are often found near water, they swim and frequently capture frogs and other aquatic species that make up their diet.

Ribbon Snake

Creamy white around mouth with bright yellow ribbon on scales 3-4


 Ribbon Snake