Showing posts from July, 2016

Dogwhelks (Nucella lapillus)

NATURE NEWS Dogwhelks are worth getting to know

By Sue Pike One of my favorite books to reference while exploring the New England coast is Deborah Coulombe’s “Seaside Naturalist.” It covers almost anything you are likely to encounter along the coast and is accompanied by great illustrations that help with identifying and understanding the nature of the organism in question. After an afternoon tide pooling on a recent beautiful sunny hot day I was idly leafing through her book, reading about some of the species I had encountered. What caught my eye was an exception to my usual unconditional love of her descriptions. I had lifted up some knotted wrack (that slippery, spaghetti-like seaweed that coats mid-intertidal rocks and is actually fun to slip around on—at least my kids think so) and uncovered a congregation of dogwhelks (a kind of snail) and masses of dogwhelk eggs. Here’s how Coulombe introduced this snail: “A slightly less spectacular northern snail is the Atlantic dogwhelk, Thai…
Wild River Hike

Wild River Trail to Black Angel Trail to Basin Trail 
Evan's Notch Maine
July 18 2016

Overview: This was an approximately 7 mile hike with  1300/1400 feet in elevation. It took us about 5 hours-we didn't walk fast, but also the terrain was rougher than I anticipated--the Black Angel trail, in particular, was where most of the elevation gain occurred.   My hiking partner had a mild injury so picked this as a relatively easy hike.I thought this hike was going to be low-key and boring (I like hikes that take you above treeline ideally, or at least to good views).  I was wrong. This one didn't have views out over the mountains but was one of the most beautiful hikes I've done. 

The Hike:We started at the Wild River Campground (about 5 miles up Wild River Road, a left off of Rte 113 -the beautiful narrow road that winds its way through Evan's Notch).  The Wild River Trail (an old railroad bed) follows Wild River at a very  moderate grade meandering along and …
NATURE NEWS Three kinds of periwinkles live in Gulf of Maine
Photo by Sue Pike The common periwinkle is considered an invasive non-native species in the Gulf of Maine. A rough periwinkle is at the bottom, smooth periwinkle in the middle and the relatively huge common periwinkle in back

By Sue Pike
Posted Jul. 19, 2016 at 5:02 PM 

There is one local snail that I would bet everyone who lives in coastal New England knows and loves: the common periwinkle. What young person hasn’t picked up a periwinkle from the beach and tried to hum it out of its shell? Who doesn’t think that these are cute snails? If you have been to a local beach and your eyes were open, you undoubtedly saw at least one periwinkle — given how many there are out there they are hard to miss. What most people don’t know is that there are three snails that live in the intertidal zone in the Gulf of Maine that go by the name "periwinkle." The one most of us know is the common periwinkle (…

Black Swallowtail update-eggs hatched!

Nature News

Black swallowtail eggs hatched!
Young caterpillars-early instars- feeding on fennel.  I don't get how such a tiny egg produced such a large caterpillar-8 mm-in such a short time.  (photo of egg in previous blog)
That white stripe is due to uric acid deposits  that are thought to protect the caterpillars from a toxic chemical (furocoumarin) found in their diet. Members of the Umbelliferae family, like fennel, dill and carrots, all of which are host plants for black swallowtail caterpillars, produce furocoumarins as a defense against micro-organisms.


Alpine Gardens on Mount Washington
July 15 2015

Overview:My dog and I wanted to hike up to the Alpine Gardens on Washington (not sure about the dog, but I did). Two easyish ways to get up there are Tuckerman's Ravine Trail up the headwall until you intersect (on the right)  the Alpine Garden trail or up Lion Head trail, which intersects with the Alpine Garden trail.  I hadn't hiked either the Tuckerman Ravine trail or Lion Head trail with a dog before.  I decided to go up Lion Head because I was worried about Glacier (the dog) on that steep part of the headwall that you always hear about people falling off of. I had forgotten about all the steep scrambles on Lion Head (had only previously hiked down it). After scrambling up the steep spots I was worried about Glacier coming down.  I am a big baby about scrambles-you won't see me doing anything that involves climbing or cliffs.   Glacier turned out to be fine both going up and down but it made me very nervous--I wouldn…
Nature News Baby black swallowtail butterflies are beautiful and common  by Sue Pike  July 14 2016 We have a large patch of bronze fennel growing out back — this is unfortunate because it can be an aggressive invasive plant and is currently attempting to overrun my blueberry patch, but, on the other hand is good because it is home to a host of baby black swallowtail butterflies. These are one of our most common butterflies - adults are a gorgeous large black butterfly with two rows of yellow spots along the margins of the wings, and characteristic drooping “swallow” tails on the hindwings.
The fully grown caterpillars are just as attractive with colorful alternating stripes of greenish-white and black with six yellow dots embedded in each black stripe. I spotted a couple of these caterpillars gnawing on the foliage just last week. That same day a black swallowtail adult butterfly was fluttering around the garden. She circled the bronze fennel, periodically pausing at

the edges then da…