The Wrack

The Wrack is the Wells Reserve blog, our collective logbook on the web.

Posts tagged birds

  • Wing'd XXXV: Is It On The List?

    | January 30, 2016 | Filed under: Observations

    Dovekies, or little auks, are sea-going plankton consumers who tend to stay to our north. You're most likely to spot one from a boat or, with persistence, through a telescope at a good "sea-watching" site. I've never been so lucky; dovekie's on my wish list.

  • Wing'd XXXIV: Quite a Wrack Racket

    | September 30, 2015

    Close-up of algae piled in wrack line."That seaweed is disgusting. It's ugly, it smells, and it's covered in flies. Why don't you do something about it?"

    I can only imagine the phone calls fielded by beach managers from York to Biddeford this summer. I'm sure they got an earful. Southern Maine's tourist magnets, our beautiful sandy beaches, got turned into algae dumps in July. Popular sun-bathing spots were piled high with twisted mounds of seaweed. Vacationers were none too pleased.

    Peeved visitors took to social media to vent their frustration. Empathetic local officials tried to explain. The press pounced.

  • Wing'd XXXIII: 2015 Plovers & Terns

    | September 16, 2015 | Filed under: Observations

    Katrina Papanastassiou brought good news for her lunchtime talk about this summer's piping plover and least tern nesting season in Maine.

  • Wing'd XXXII: Worth the Run

    | August 19, 2015

    Not often you see a dude rounding a hedgerow, coming down the trail at a lilting half-run, tripod hanging off one hand, but that's exactly what I saw last Tuesday. It was Josh Fecteau on the chase. He had news I hadn't heard. Wilson's Phalarope. In the marsh. From the dike.

  • Winged Wednesday, Fledglings edition

    | July 22, 2015

    Yesterday, a foggy morning in Southern Maine made for some interesting perspectives.

    Pea soup

  • Mothering Nature

    | May 10, 2015

    Catch me, mom!

    The following was published in the Biddeford-Saco Journal Tribune Sunday edition, 5/10/2015.

    Because I love science, and because I have kids, I watch a lot of nature films. My favorite bit of animal cinema involves day-old ducklings emerging from a hole in a tree trunk and plummeting 50 feet down to the leaf-strewn ground below. Their stubby wings flap in vain, but the baby wood ducks all survive. Ducklings bounce, it turns out. Their mother, who had been waiting (anxiously? nonchalantly? impatiently?) for them to emerge, guides them to a nearby lake. Their real lives begin.

  • Wing'd XXXI: She's Got Legs

    | May 6, 2015

    One April long ago, my ornithology instructor took our class to Bowerman Basin to view an annual sandpiper spectacle he helped discover and document. Dr. Herman delivered us to an enormous flock of shorebirds and, as science students "seeking patterns in nature," charged us with tallying them.

    Western Sandpipers and Dunlins in Oregon. Photo by David B. Ledig and in the public domain.

    "How do we count such a huge flock of birds?" we asked the sage.

    "Count the legs and divide by two," was his wisdom.*

    Ever since, I've strived to get good looks at bird legs whenever I've got binoculars in hand. No, I'm not counting them; I'm checking them for bands. Steve also taught us the value of studying birds as individuals and as populations — and how both approaches are aided by a scientist's ability to identify specific birds reliably. To do that requires marking them and legs are the go-to appendage.

  • Creatures are the Best Teachers

    Wells Reserve Contributor | March 10, 2015

    Warning: Mildly graphic images of wildlife below

    Thanks to a couple of observant walkers, the Wells Reserve education programs will soon have a few new props to teach about our feathered friends out on the trails and along the beach. Last week, I received the bodies of a common murre and a red-tailed hawk that had been found dead: the murre found by volunteer-extraordinaire Stu Flavin along a beach during his morning dog walk; the hawk by a Reserve neighbor strolling through the woods. It’s always sad to see wildlife that have passed, and with these two birds the cause of death was unclear, though likely natural as they were found in their respective habitats. The silver lining for me is that they can live a second life as teachers, educating the public about their amazing adaptations and encouraging a deeper appreciation for their role in our natural world.

    Red-tailed Hawk Tail and Talon

  • Wing'd XXX: Wednesday Walk Wrap

    | January 30, 2015

    European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris, licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia CommonsMy tight-timeframe Wednesday birding routine started in March and carried on through December. Over that span I missed 7 mid-week morning appointments with the birds, but still completed 33 checklists accounting for 61 species.

    Starlings were evident on 20 surveys, crows turned up on 19, and a handful of species appeared 11 times: robin, bluebird, a sparrow, and goldfinch.

  • Wing'd XXIX: Rare Flycatcher is One-day Wonder

    | June 11, 2014 | Filed under: Observations

    A scissor-tailed flycatcher spends a few hours along the Muskie Trail.