Weekly Notes – September 29, 2013

Foliage season may be the shortest season when compared to Black Fly, Summer, Winter and of course Mud Season, but it is certainly the prettiest season in Maine.  The days are warm and the nights crisp and cool beckoning natives along with those from away to get outside and explore the nooks and crannies of Maine Nature.

Click here to follow Maine’s Official Fall Foliage Website

‘The turning of leaves’ as we say, occurs when the hours of sunlight is reduced to the extent that a broad-leaf tree no longer performs photosynthesis and begins the process of shutting down for the winter months.  Each fall, Maine’s Northern Hardwood forest and mixed Spruce – Fir provide the splendid backdrop across the ridges of the north and western elevations that arguably draws the largest number of people out to observe nature.

Many leaf peepers will simply take a drive along some of the most well known routes west such as 201 from Skowhegan to Jackman or 302 Portland to Fryburg or travel north inland on 11 from Lebanon to Fort Kent or on the coastal route 1 from Kittery to Calais and on to Fort Kent.  There are many places that offer wonderful vistas and opportunities to get out of the vehicle and explore Maine nature, if you should so desire.

Can you find and identify the 7 species of Maple trees found in Maine?  Four are pictured below.  Keep in mind that the Maple family all have Opposite leaves.  The Maine Forest Service offers the publication ‘Forest Trees of Maine, Centennial Edition, 1908 – 2008, 14th edition’ online

Red Sugar Mountain Moose

Red – Sugar – Mountain – Moose


Red and Sugar Maple

Red and Sugar Maple

Look close at the difference between these two leaves.  The one on the left has a sharp ‘V’ shape between the lobes, it is a Red Maple.  Also known as Swamp maple, this species prefers a very moist habitat.

The one on the right has a soft ‘U’ shape between the lobes, it is a Sugar Maple.  No nickname is necessary for this species that is the favored tree to tap each spring.  The Norway Maple has very similar leaves and is found most often as a planted tree in suburban areas.

Mountain and Striped or Moose Maple

Mountain and Striped or Moose Maple

Two lessor known but very common species found in the woods and along trail sides.

On the left is Mountain Maple, a shrubby tree that prefers very moist habitats and is more common in the north than in the southern part of the state.

Striped Maple or Moosewood is on the right.  This is a small tree that is found throughout the state growing in the shade of larger hardwoods.  It has very distinctive bark that is striped green and white.

Striped Maple bark

Striped Maple bark

It is late in the season but not unusual to see Monarch Butterflies and migrant song-birds.

David reports:  Hi, wanted to report 2 monarchs sighted on Harts Neck, Tenants Harbor, ME.  One on Monday, Sept. 23rd on the eastern shore, and another, Sept. 25th on the northern shore. These locations are about 1/3 mile apart. I don’t believe they were the same creature, the first one was larger than the second. The second butterfly was feeding on some type of white flowered aster, wood aster maybe. Dma&g Map 8

The moon is fading as a waning crescent this coming week.  Orion, the mighty night hunter of the winter skies can be seen again.  I found this interesting satellite photo that shows the amount of artificial light in the larger areas across all of Northern New England.  Courtesy of NWS of Gray….  If you have never observed the night sky from a remote area away from artificial lights, do put it on your list of things to do within the next year.  There are many places in Maine to get-away and observe how spectacular the night sky is.

Artificial night time light in Maine

Artificial night time light in Maine & Northern NE