Hello July, with strawberries! We celebrated the new month with a strawberry outing up to a U-Pick patch in Bowdoinham. It is a beautiful spot along Merrymeeting Bay. The sun was shining and a breeze kept the bugs at bay (no pun intended!). We picked plenty of berries, and then bagged a few peas for dinner. Our outing included a hunt along the shoreline for tracks and unusual findings in the sand and mud. We thought we saw evidence of raccoon and mink, and actually saw chipmunks pursuing food and leaving its small foot tracings. We couldn't walk by the huge Bolete mushrooms that were thriving under the shoreline trees. They were big enough for umbrellas, or other shenanigans as Linden demontrates with his mom. This is one of the advantages of the wet weather we have been having - mushroom growth. We also found Russulas and an Amanita for contrast. All this, in addition to the peas and strawberries.

Back at the campground, the beach hunts turned up a few interesting characters including a few large barnacles growing on a piece of rope. The rope was tangled in rocks, but those barnacles were about maximum in size. Unfortunately, they were reluctant to open and "fish" for dinner, but it was fun seeing their construction without the benefit of a hand lens.

We also found some Dogwinkle snails (one of our native mollusks), laying eggs. These small yellow capsules contain many eggs, and are about the size of rice kernels. Dogwinkles are common carnivorous snails, coming in white or striped white/brown colors. They eat barnacles (sticking its foot in the door of those critters to gain entrance) or use similar tools to open mussels. Also in the picture, you will see the more round and brown snails - the Periwinkles. These are prolific, but not native. They are vegetarians and feed off the seaweeds among which they live. Europeans eat the Periwinkles, though they would have to eat a lot to satisfy an appetite. Since they are vegetarians and not filter feeders, they are free of the Red Tide organism now affecting our bivalves and carnivorous snails.

So, July started with strawberries and sunshine, with a few barnacles and fungi through into the mix. The low tides are shifting to late morning and afternoon in the coming days, so we will be shorkeling and diving for sea life. The price of lobsters is descending down, just below $5 as those animals move into shore and are captured by the many traps set out by our fishermen. With the holiday upon us, that price is worth watching. I notice the gas price, on the other hand, has moved up another 10 cents to $2.85 or more. (Just in case you are curious!).
7/2/06 Happy holiday! Ronnie