Archive for August, 2014

Double-crested “Conductor”

Double-creasted Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) at the mouth of the Damariscotta River.

This Double-crested Cormorant looked to me as if he were conducting the sea in a musical performance, perhaps the finale to the 1812 Overture?  I had always believed this spread eagle behavior meant he was just drying his wings after a round of diving for fish.  I was told years ago that Cormorants do not have the oil gland (Uropygial Gland) that most birds use when they preen their feathers, but in fact necropsy has shown that Cormorants do have this gland.  Richard King in his book “The Devil’s Cormorant, A Natural History” claims that this behavior is due to the Cormorant’s unique feather structure.  He cites a study by A.M. Rijke of the University of Capetown which says that the Cormorants benefit from their feather structure which allows their feathers to get wet.  Their feathers do not trap air and are less buoyant enabling them to dive deeper and faster.  They face into the wind when they do this, presumably to allow their wings to dry faster.

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Fledgling Ospreys are Everywhere

He seems a little bewildered.

He acts a little bewildered.

Here in Maine we have several Osprey nests around our house and the chicks have fledged.  They are careening in front of the windows, perching on the roof and whistling in anxiety all day long as they attempt to learn fishing skills and perfect their flight abilities.  Landing seems to be a problem for them.  There is a big, relatively flat rock in front of the house and one young birds has chosen it as a safe spot upon which to flop down.  They will be around for several more weeks, learning their craft, before they migrate south.  They return here in Maine right around tax time.  Our African Grey Parrot is quite adept at attracting their attention when he mimics their call.

The Ospreys were brought back from the brink of extinction when DDT was banned in the US in 1972.  So great is the Osprey’s success, the sight of them could become commonplace, but for me the sight of an Osprey is a reminder of how fragile our environment is and how easy it is for us to make a mistake that has devastating consequences.  The nicotiniod based chemical pesticides appear to be the next DDT and recent scientific research links them to the collapse in bee populations.  I only hope the political will exists in this country to do the right thing.

Safe landing accomplished.

Safe landing accomplished.


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Off to the Soup Kitchen…

summer Squash, in all its abundance.

Summer Squash, in all its abundance.

I may have quit the garden for a few days in Maine but that doesn’t mean that the garden quit!  Three hills of Summer Squash have given me so many beauties that I’m giving these to a friend who volunteers at a local soup kitchen.  They will, I hope, be welcomed by the families who are struggling to make ends meet.  The economy is still fragile, especially in nearby Bridgeport.

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Do You Read to Your Children?

Crossing the rope bridge to the tree house at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens Children's Garden

Crossing the rope bridge to the tree house at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens Children’s Garden

We spent a delightful afternoon with my niece and her two children at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay last week.  They have a Children’s Garden, full of family friendly activities that must have been so much fun to design.  One of the spaces is a reading corner and there is a plaque imprinted with the final verse to Strickland Gillilan’s poem “The Reading Mother.”

                                  You may have tangible wealth untold;
                                  Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
                                  Richer than I you can never be —
                                  I had a Mother who read to me.

Such truth in that verse!  My Mother read to me, I read to my children and both my son and daughter-in-law read to my grandchildren.  Do you read to the young people in your life?


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When and How to Harvest and Store Your Garlic

There will be no Vampires at our house!

There will be no Vampires at our house!

I have taken all your great suggestions to heart and tried to incorporate them into my new video.  The most often voiced suggestion was that you wanted to see my face, so here goes…(it is what it is!)  Our videography is a little shaky and I look like the proverbial “deer in the headlights,” but the information is valid.  [Maybe I should have changed out of my gardening clothes?]  Here it is:



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