Nature Notes from Braeside

Watch this page for information on latest observations and activities at Braeside!

Apples are ripening on Edith’s tree!

September 2017 has brought a sudden spurt of activity at Braeside.  We’ve had the opportunity during recent visits to observe the ripening apples on the ancient tree just behind the house and, believe it or not, the many deer that frequent the property have actually left some apples for us!  They are delicious: sweet-tart, crisp, and juicy.  We’re not sure of the variety, so at last, after many seasons of wondering, we’ve collected some apples to share with Maine’s own apple expert, Jon Bunker.  Perhaps his research on heritage apples will help us identify this variety or will reveal that it’s a previously unknown type.  Edith would have loved such a mystery!

 

In April 2016, while planting our new sugar maple tree at Braeside, we took time to check for signs of spring.  We spotted Pileated and Hairy Woodpeckers, as well as numerous songbirds, including a phoebe that was carrying a mouthful of food into the barn – nesting there, no doubt!  None of the birds sat still long enough for a photo, but the plants were cooperative, as you will see below.

Daffodils and hyacinths, planted long ago, poke up through last autumn's leaves.

Daffodils and hyacinths, planted long ago, poke up through last autumn’s leaves.

 

Edith's scilla still dot the north lawn with delicate blue blossoms each spring.

Edith’s scilla still dot the north lawn with delicate blue blossoms each spring.

 

The mountain ash tree planted in the bird observation area three years ago is in full bud, despite a bit of deer damage suffered this past winter.

The mountain ash tree planted in the bird observation area three years ago is in full bud, despite a bit of deer damage suffered this past winter.

 

Most of the autumn, 2015 photos below are thanks to Joanne Alex, who not only always has her camera with her, but remembers to take it out and use it!

Edith Patch could be hard-headed when it came to making her way in science and defending the work of her students and colleagues.  However, even Edith would have found it difficult to compete with this ultra-hard-headed resident of the woodland at Braeside.  This Pileated Woodpecker too busy to pay attention to the schoolchildren exploring nearby!

pileatedatbraeside

Who had supper here?
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We often feel as though we’re being watched as we walk the meadow’s edge at Braeside!

Braeside neighbors, fall, 2015. Photo by Joanne D. Alex

Braeside neighbors, fall, 2015.  All photos by Joanne D. Alex

 

Behind Edith Patch’s home, there’s a hidden path that wends its way down to a narrow stream and tiny pool, where forget-me-nots, iris, marsh marigold, and pond lilies bloom. Students from UMaine’s SFR452 Environmental Interpretation class built a bench and inscribed it with a quote from Dr. Patch and, in fall, 2015, installed it so that a visitor to the spot might rest and enjoy a peaceful, contemplative moment.

Braeside's secret nook, fall 2015. Photo by Joanne D. Alex

Braeside’s secret nook, fall 2015. Photo by Joanne D. Alex

Monarch butterfly in the meadow at Braeside, September 2015

Monarch butterfly in the meadow at Braeside, September 2015. Photo by Joanne D. Alex

September 26, 2015
It’s taken all season, but we finally spotted our first Monarch Butterfly of the year at Braeside! These insects, favorites of Edith Patch, have been few and far between this year. This individual was feeding on red clover in the meadow.
We also discovered several other apple and crabapple trees scattered in the woods. These are more specimens that we can attempt to identify for heritage status!
Among our most exciting finds of the day was the abundant evidence that native bees have indeed been using the bee boxes installed last spring. Thanks to a grant from the Maine Community Foundation and in collaboration with the Biodiversity Institute, students from Stillwater Montessori School in Old Town, Maine, built, decorated, and installed the boxes around Edith Patch’s home and along the meadow’s edge. On this day’s visit, we were able to observe the capped egg chambers from which adult bees had emerged. Many bees were busy around us in the meadow.
Autumn flowers are blooming in profusion at Braeside, as are some spring and summer ones that refuse to give up! At various points along the stream, we found many forget-me-nots, and a few late lupines are out, as well.
Photos from this adventure will be posted soon!

September 19, 2015
During our tree survey with licensed arborist and UMaine forestry instructor tish carr, we discovered what is probably a heritage variety apple tree. tish recommended that we send a specimen to FEDCO for identification. Unfortunately, we also discovered numerous invasives other than the obvious stand of Japanese knotweed. Among them were Norway maple, buckthorn, rugosa rose, and barberry.

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