ORCHIDS IN MAINE, PLUS A FEW BONES AND DRAGONFLIES!

I begin this week's report of natural wonders with this picture of a native orchid now blooming not far from our trails. I have been watching this plant and was finally rewarded by this spectacular sight. It is a Purple Fringed Orchid - one I have not seen before. If you are a botanist intrigued by rare flowers, I may tell you where it is hiding. Otherwise, enjoy it second hand.

From orchids, I turn to our amazing catches early Tuesday morning where an extreme low tide laid bare the hiding places of baby lobsters. We located just over a dozen tiny crustaceans with minimal difficulty (if you like climbing on slippery rocks and seaweeds.) It was interesting to watch them move around in the tight quarters of our buckets. Some even were able to climb out of our viewing pans.
Among our other discoveries was a batch of small Surf Clams that performed their acrobatic jumps to escape the tube feet of Sea Stars. These clams have a powerful foot that propels them through water, and is used to dig into the sand. Hermit Crabs, Red Rock Crabs, and Green Crabs all had their place on center stage for the satisfaction of our curiosity. Never a dull moment on this shoreline!

At the slide show on Monday, one camper brought in some bones she had found on the beach. Here they are,
looking rather like a head, with eye sockets, attached to a backbone. I believe these bones to be from a seal (though the jury is still out!). That "head" is actually a pelvis. I have laid another pelvis beside her bones for comparison. However, I continue to do research on these skeletal remains and would welcome your input.

We had a lot of other interesting happenings out in the world of nature. There were several reports of small "jellyfish" floating in our waters. I have seen one, and it was not a jelly fish, but a "Comb Jelly" in a class by itself. They are beautiful globs of matter, propelled by waving iridescent "combs". They feed by capturing small sea larvae that stick to two long tentacles which are contracted to draw food into their bodies. These animals are 95% water.

Finally, I have to thank all the pond dippers, especially Theo, who used nets to capture a wide variety of fresh water creatures. And just what were those jelly blobs? Our amphibian friends appear to be alive and well in the Lily Pond.

Dragonflies were cruising in the air over the water. We could not resist capturing one for a temporary closer look. What a beautiful insect..Look at its head that is mostly bulging eyes. Where are its antennae? Those netted wings are used independently enabling the animal to fly up and down, backwards and forwards. It is no easy task to capture one. We used a net. The dragonfly we caught is a Common Skimmer of the genus Libellula. Here is a poem that speaks to me about these marvelous flying insects:

"The beauteous dragonfly's dancing,
By the waves of rivulet glancing,
She dances here, she dances there,
The glimmering, glittering, flutterer fair.".....Heinrich Heine

Maybe you can write a poem in tribute to the dragonfly. By the way, why is it called a dragon-fly? These insects are not harmful to humans and are often called Mosquito Hawks because they catch mosquitoes as well as other flying insects.

From Orchids to Dragonflies, with a few bones thrown in for diversion, it has been an interesting week here on the coast of Maine.

7/20/03 Ronnie