Witch Hazel, Beavers, and Boletes, Oh My!

Did you miss Episode 034: Northern Flickers or Episode 035: Cluster Flies? That's because we've moved to a new site: The Nature of Phenology! Did you miss our Episodes on Witch Hazel, Beavers, Boletes, Wild Cucumbers, or Cranberries? That's because we've moved to a new site: The Nature of Phenology! The content is the same under this new name, but if you want to continue (or start!) receiving emails every time a new episode is ready to read or listen to, you'll have to sign-up to follow The Nature of Phenology blog here!

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Don’t miss Episodes 034 or 035!

Did you miss Episode 034: Northern Flickers or Episode 035: Cluster Flies? That's because we've moved to a new site: The Nature of Phenology! The content is the same under this new name, but if you want to continue (or start!) receiving emails every time a new episode is ready to read or listen to, you'll have to sign-up to follow The Nature of Phenology blog here!

Episode 033: Migration

While Canada geese are the poster children of migration in this area due to their noisy honking and artistic flight patterns that catch the eye and ear of just about anyone who drives anywhere, walks to the mailbox, or has a window, we have many species in Maine that also migrate. Warblers, woodcocks, red-winged blackbirds, some bats, various sea-run fish, and even whales migrate to or through Maine at some point during the year and right now is one of those prime times of the year to observe migration in action.

Episode 032: Leaf Change

Water is a thing that all plants need, but in excess, such as on the edge of a pond or swamp, that same life-giving water can rob a tree’s roots of essential oxygen. Tress on the edge of parking lots or roads can be under a similar oxygen-starved stress from soil compaction or salination due to heavy dosing of road salt in the winter. So the trees in these places begin to change color first. This change could be a single stressed leaf at the bottom of a crown, or perhaps even a single branch which is plumbed back to a single stressed root by a network of vessels, or sometimes it can be the whole tree showing its fall colors a full two months before the autumnal equinox and even longer still until ‘peak leaf.’

Episode 031: Blackberries

Perhaps the best description I have heard of this obsidian berry’s taste comes from Maine folk singer Jud Caswell in his song “Blackberry Time” where he describes the flavor as “One part sweet, one part fruit, and two parts seed.” And that seedy reputation is for good reason! Upon closer inspection of the lumps and bumps of this berry, it becomes evident that each little lump is its own little orb of juicy completeness with a thin skin, succulent pulp and a hard little seed sitting at the very center. A bonafide botanist would be excited by this observation and declare with an air of authority that a blackberry is in fact an aggregate fruit—which is to say a lump of little fruits. In the case of a blackberry those little fruits have been given the all-too-adorable botanical name “drupelets.”

Episode 030: Garter Snakes

Snakes are cold-blooded, meaning they rely on their surroundings to maintain their temperatures. They spend winters in dens with other snakes in brumation, a process similar to hibernation, when they would otherwise freeze from slithering across ice and snow regularly, and they bask in the sun to support their metabolism in the summer. Females give birth to live young between July and September, so to support and incubate the young snakes growing within them, they can more reliably be found basking in the sun this time of year.

Episode 029: Cardinal Flowers

Red is such a fleeting color for plants in our Maine woodlands. Sure the red maples give an impressive show of the color in the fall, but upon closer inspection those fiery leaves are really specked with brown, dashed with gold, and cloaked in subtle greens. Yellow, white, and even purple flowers are common among our fields and forests, but a true red flower is a wild gift to behold. The cardinal flower, as the name rather vividly describes, cares not for the colors made popular by high fashion plant society. Once in bloom, their petals are so vivid, I find it hard to even equate their color with such a banal term as “red.”

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