Happy Times

Sunday, July 24, 2016

A visit to Coastal Maine Botanical Garden

July 17, 2016

(I'll try, but I'm afraid I'm going to have WAY too many pictures.  So spare a little more time for this blog.)

View of the Visitor Center - this is the only grass in the garden

Our third stop in the Boothbay area was the Coastal Main Botanical Garden. (Since this was the BEST adventure, you'll have to wait for the others.) I had found a write-up about this garden and found it is 270 acres of tidal shore in Boothbay, Maine and that Trip Advisor has named it the #1 public garden in the United States. So I was willing to drive the seven hours round trip distance needed to get to Boothbay to visit it. Just walking in, I was amazed at the layers and textures in this garden.

Some of a group of fish at the entrance

A little bed near the entrance is still exuberantly textured and colored

 I told Christina, the intern who accompanied me, to go do whatever she wanted, since I would drive her crazy if she was waiting on me to take pictures. We agreed to meet in three hours. Then I started exploring the kitchen garden which had a beautiful mix of flowers and vegetables in raised beds. There was a beautiful fountain as the focal point.

The view that drew me into the kitchen garden

Even in the kitchen garden the textures were amazing

This plant had a little more texture that I'd want in my garden

What a marvelous lettuce

My next stop was at the children's garden. This was quite large and again had lots of colors and textures. It also had a pond and a full model of the little whaler boat, Tidly Idly from the children's book, Burt Dow, Deep Water Man. I had never heard this Maine story but soon I found a little children's reading room, hosted by a docent, and this was one of the first books I saw. I had to stop, sit in a rocking chair, and read the story of Burt Dow, his laughing seagull, and his barely floatable boat. One day, while out fishing, he managed to catch a whale by the tail. He got his hook out and then put a bandaid on the tail. Then a big wind came up and Burt asked the whale to swallow him until the wind went down, since his boat would not withstand the big waves. The whale did swallow him but Burt had to make the whale a little sick in his stomach to get back out. (You'll have to read the book to find all those amusing details.) He erupted out of the whale's stomach to find himself surrounded by whales. He finally figured out they too wanted bandaids on their tails. After that he managed to get back to land.

Kids can put on oilskins and climb into the boat and imagine themselves inside a whale. (The oilskins weren't quite big enough for me.)

A long view of part of the children's garden

I found a frog with a very sore nose in the children's garden

One of the structures in the children's garden

A water lily in the children''s pond

Another fun spot in the children's garden

I've always wanted a bed like this in my garden - but with a raised bed planted "mattress"

There were lots of fun things in this area. Kids are allowed to pick blueberries, and there are lots of whimsical things to enjoy. There is also a kind of a tree house with a bridge built into a net connecting it to another house. Below it there is another sitting area with lots of stump stools.

Loved the praying mantis and the succulents on the roof of one of the houses
 in the children's garden

The bees and I loved these echinaceas - that's a tricolor bumblebee and is also found on the refuge

Then I started down all the paths I could find in the main garden. The garden is in a forest and has so many layers. The trails are often parallel but you only occasionally see the heads of visitors on them. Otherwise, you are walking past flower beds and shrubs, and sometimes under trees. Lots of flowers were in bloom, but some had already gone to seed and some were still in bud. So this is probably a fun place to visit from very late spring through early fall. And I'm sure it's bones will also look great after the flowering season. And there are little branching trails off the main trails that lead to little dead end rooms. Each of them has a very different feel. One of them was visible as the trail crossed a small creek, just below a musical waterfall, then ended up at a bench agains the background of shrubs. One of the three woman ahead of me voiced my thoughts, saying, “I could just sit here for hours and enjoy the peace.”

The entrance to the children's garden

Art in the only open area of the gardens

A path showing the textures and colors and attraction to the next "around the bend"

A very small but densely planted area plus art

Another path view

The paths had some differences in paving materials adding to the diversity of texture

A view around the main pond

Level changes also help make this garden feel tightly planted

Loved this sweet pea - and how spring,  summer, and fall plants seem to bloom almost at once 

Many plants could add structure, texture and color, all within themselves

Another great little view

The art was integrated into the site and complemented the other textures and colors

Textures redoux plus art

One of the most interesting exhibits was several walls of plants. There was a docent in that area and I talked to her about them. I think the story was that the original donors of the garden had a handicapped relative and wanted the garden to be accessible and enjoyable for people that might be missing a sense or not be very mobile. They invented a system consisting of a wooden frame that holds cubes made of a kind of stiff fencing. These are packed with planting medium, apparently inside of “pillowcases” of landscape fabric, then planted. The frames have different flowers planted on each side and are oriented to have a sunny side and a shady side. I immediately wanted to add frames of very textured plants, as well as plants with different scents, that people could touch and smell without having to bend over.  The garden has offered classes on how to replicate these planters. 

One of the wall gardens - begonias are planted on the other side

This is the cube that is filled with soil and then stacked inside the frames, two deep

I soon realized that the garden is set right into a coastal forest and that there are hiking trails through that forest to where there are a few other gardens. But I'm sure you are tired of this blog by now, so I'll save them for my next blog. And we had a few other adventures that day. Watch for them as well.

If you want to learn more about this outstanding garden, click here.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Goose Roundup

July 6, 2016

Early Wednesday morning, I got a call from Kirsten, our biotechs, asking if I wanted to come, RIGHT NOW,  and help with the goose roundup. I rushed to the office and found everyone was about to leave, and I couldn't help with the kayak herding, but could help from the bank and with the actual banding. So I raced back to the house and grabbed a hat and water and went dressed as I was, in my shorts and water shoes, which I often wear as slippers.

We traveled down the highway to an entrance to Lake Sealy. As we got to the beginning of the lake, we waited for the three kayakers to get in the water and start the drive. Meanwhile the Youth Conservation Corp (YCC) kids and their leaders had sneaked in to the far side of the lake and one of the leaders, Chris, was in his boat, waiting for the geese to show up in their area. Then the rest of us got out of our car and lined up along the road to wait for the geese and kayakers to appear. Then we walked along the edge of the lake to keep the geese more to the middle until they reached the bottom of the lake where the kayakers drove them into a trap on the levee. We all surrounded the trap to keep the geese from rushing the fence and then picked them up by getting a grip on them at the root of their wings and put them into the waiting pens.

The pen was on the levy- Some of the YCC kids are in the background

From there, we loaded them into pens,  then took turns getting them out, sexing them, then putting a band on them, except for one that had already been banded. We were finished with the whole endeavor in less than two and a half hours. This was a much smaller endeavor, both scope and numbers of birds than are the scaup roundups at Red Rock Lakes NWR. There we survey thousands of ducks in 9 days of roundups. And we weigh them, measure the distance from the back of their heads to their bills and also the length of their tarsus. And, if we catch adult females, who will come back to the refuge to breed, we mark them with colored shapes on a wire through their bills. This allows us to gather information about them in successive years without having to recapture them. If you missed that story, click the link above. 

Me hauling a goose from the pen to the banders

Biologist, Ray helping a YCC girl band her goose. 

Murray is our other biologist - he's also helping with the band

Me getting my goose in place to be sexed

Sexing the goose- I had a male

Getting help with the banding

One of the interesting things I learned is that Moosehorn actually brought Canada geese to the refuge many years ago. In the central flyway, they are regarded more like weeds, than as a valued species.  But they seem to only be here in small numbers, even though they and wood ducks seem to be the most numerous breeders of our water birds. 

And since everybody gave me pictures of me, I even look like I stared in the roundup. But I actually only helped keep the geese in the middle of the lake and herded into the pen, then helped remove them from the pens and give them to the YCC kids except for the two I banded with help. 

The end of a few hours of fun - we released the geese all at once - since this was the last one, I just held it until we dumped the rest out of the pens. 

I'm joining Wild Bird Wednesday.  Click on the picture to read more wild bird blogs from around the world.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

On the Hunt for Hidden Culverts

July 11, 2016

One of my assignments at Moosehorn NWR was to survey the trails in the Wilderness Area for places that needed work to make it easier to travel across them. I was looking for trees that had fallen and blocked the trail or for vegetation that had overgrown the trail. Then, after I was already almost finishing marking the coordinates of the problem places, I got the added assignment of finding and marking the culverts, and also measuring the diameter and length of them. (I think this is because, we are trying to remove the signs of man from the areas now designated as wilderness.) So, while, not as efficient in data gathering as I could have been, I DO get to go hike again on the company dollar.

I loved the tree with theses seed pods - but I couldn't make the camera separate a group of them from their background and had to focus on just one

I hoped to get off to an early start, but, after a few days of rain, the vegetation was dripping, so I waited to leave until around 8:00 AM. This was later than most wildlife would be out so, I didn't see much. But the hermit thrushes were still singing their hauntingly beautiful songs as were the oven birds and white throated sparrows. As I walked down the road to the beginning of Headquarter's Trail, I heard begging babies and watched a female yellow-bellied sapsucker fly across the street. I looked for the nest and saw several holes in a birch tree. This was the first day of sun after several cloudy and often rainy days so everything looked brand new.

I found, way-pointed, and measured 5 culverts. I also found a place where water was coming out of what seemed to be a cement culvert – I couldn't actually see it, but when I stuck a stick behind the water flow, the area resonated as though it was a culvert. And even stranger, there was a metal culvert only a few feet further down the trail.

Yes, there is a culvert running just under the white card and my GPS which is average the way points - it will be tough to get it out from under several trees. 

This culvert was much easier to find

Another lagniappe - pink mushrooms growing on a fallen birch tree 

I was completely enthralled by a rosy maple moth I found.  It was sleeping in a little evening primrose. I took it's picture, then pulled it out and photographed it on my finger, then tucked it back to continue sleeping.  What a cooperative subject. 

Primrose moth (Schinia florida) - must be closely associated with primroses

Moth posing on my thumb - love it's "do"

I decided to come back by refuge roads, a most serendipitous choice, because when I investigated movement in the ditch, I found a porcupine which eventually climbed a tree. Unfortunately, this was around eleven o'clock and the light was very contrasty so he was either in too dark or too bright a place.  I also scared a sunning garter snake who leaped up to crawl away, they just stopped to see if I would come after  it. 

Garter snake

The only fireweed I'd seen -but now there are fields of it

Porcupine climbing tree

And then sitting on a branch

I need help identifying this flower.  It is just now coming into bloom - it is under a foot high and grows in the ditches under the shade of trees

A most impressive evergreen

I came back tired and hungry, having worked over ten miles. Now I only have one more trail over which to hunt for culverts. But I'm diverted from that job by my milkweed which are now ready to transplant. So I've been working eleven to thirteen hours a day for the last five days, to get them in pots. That is going well. BUT the bad news is that I have 35 dishpans full of seedlings and only have the planting mix and pots to transplant about eight of those bins.

And that's my excuse as to why I didn't get my Wednesday blog up.

I'm putting the finishing touches on this blog from the town of Eastport, Maine, where I went to visit a farmer's market.  I have free range eggs, lettuce, beet greens, kale, Swiss chard, and service berries. I planted another six flats of milkweed, leaving only the last four flats to finish this evening.

And tomorrow I plan to visit the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden, which is three and a half hours south of me.