Today’s 6 a.m. sky greeted us with a pair of oddly tilted, flying-saucer-shaped dark clouds that appeared to be swooping in for a landing. Or maybe I was just groggy from working at the Notebook until 12:30 in the morning.
We don’t have Monday, June 25, circled in red on our calendar, and you probably don’t either. Nevertheless, it will be a noteworthy—and very good—day. That’s when The Naturalist’s Notebook will launch its fourth season in our crazy, beautiful little 1895 building at 16 Main Street in Seal Harbor, Maine, just a few hundred yards from the Atlantic Ocean and Acadia National Park. With the countdown clock ticking (and, in my other world, Olympic preparations for Sports Illustrated reaching a peak), I haven’t had time to focus on the blog, but here are shots of just a few of the creatures, creations and curiosities that have occupied us lately:
We witnessed a birdseed showdown between an unhappy squirrel and a somewhat belligerent woodchuck. The squirrel had reinforcements—two of its kind showed up to help pester the woodchuck—but the big guy (or girl) wouldn’t budge from under the feeder.
When this seed-gobbler showed up, Pamelia I asked each other, How close can you safely get to a skunk? We snuck up with our camera but stayed at least 40 feet away. I’ve since read that skunks can spray about three meters, or roughly 10 feet…depending on the wind. I also learned that skunks are no longer considered part of the weasel family but instead have their own family, made up only of skunks and animals called stink badgers. Wouldn’t the latter be a great name for an intramural flag-football team at the University of Wisconsin?
O.K., you knew I had to show you a stink badger, right? These animals live only in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines and they produce a foul emission from their anal glands. DNA evidence shows that they and the skunks we know went their separate evolutionary ways from a common ancestor about 20 million years ago.
Want a short and soothing break? Watch this short video of an especially vocal robin singing in the grass near Jordan Pond House in Acadia National Park. Pamelia filmed it a few days ago and we posted it on youtube.
When we got home one night, someone had left in our mailbox a bird’s nest inside a cardboard carton. This sort of thing didn’t happen before we started the Notebook, but nowadays people bring us squirrel sculls, dead beetles, you name it. And we love it.
Where is this lovely, lens-like molecule floating around? This year’s Notebook, of course.
Pamelia and I took time for a walk and came across this two-toned lupine. Our part of Maine is filled with lupines right now.
As I said, lupines are in profusion around here. The flowers were given the name lupine—from the Latin word for wolf—because they are invasive and, in the words of one source, can ravage the land on which they grow. In a lovely way.
We saw this raptor during a walk but haven’t definitively identified it. Because of its coloration and a white stripe across the top of its tail (not visible in this shot), I think it could be a Northern harrier, a species Pamelia and I haven’t seen here before. But I could be way off. Any thoughts?
Answers to the Last Puzzler
1) The nest was built by a tree swallow.
2) Turtles are reptiles, not amphibians.
3) The word herpetologist comes from a Latin verb meaning to creep.
What kind of birds are the nestlings below, just photographed here in Maine?
a) red-winged blackbirds
Can you guess?