Spring is an exciting time in Maine. Here’s a few things to keep an eye out for when walking around in the woods:
Vernal pools – many people know and love the familiar call of the spring peepers that are breeding right now. Click on the video below for another sound to listen for.
It’s the quack-like call of wood frogs who are returning to vernal pools to breed and create egg masses. Yellow spotted salamanders and blue spotted salamanders can also occasionally be seen in pools (and if you’re very lucky, you may also find the elusive fairy shrimp!).
Early flowers – Some species have evolved to take advantage of the extra light that hits the forest floor before the big tree leaves pop out of their buds. Trout lily, red trillium, and the non-native coltsfoot are either out already or will be coming very soon. One of the most fun flowers to find right now is also one of the smallest in the forest – Beaked Hazelnut (Corylus cornuta) produces both male and female flowers on the same plant. The male flowers are a small catkin and these red flowers in the photo are the tiny female flowers (they are actually just the stigma and styles of the flower – the rest of the flower stays hidden in the bud!).
A friend of BTLT on a recent walk in Bowdoin commented that it wouldn’t be much to carry a dozen home to his wife! These flowers will turn into some delicious edible brown nuts enclosed in a prickly green husk with a distinct “beak”. Good luck finding them before the squirrels do.
Birds – The spring migration of birds coming north is well underway now. As of today, over 2,500 raptors have been counted migrating over Bradbury Mountain State Park just this month. The ospreys, turkey vultures, broad-winged hawks, and kestrels are streaming into our area every day. Some of the early warblers are back like the palm and pine and yellow-rumped warblers and many people are now hearing the familiar call of the phoebe in their backyards.
It’s such a fun time to explore Maine’s woods. Let us know what you’re seeing on BTLT properties!