Category Archives: Explore

Citizen Science Opportunities on Sears Island


In 2016 Sears Island began a program to eradicate invasive plant species, monitor sensitive habitats, and to engage island visitors as citizen scientists on the island. On Saturday, June 10th, from 10am-12pm, Aleta McKeage will lead a nature walk that will teach walk participants how to identify invasive plants, and give a hands-on tutorial on how to use your camera and/or smartphone to record and report interesting observations of flora and fauna through FOSI’s new citizen science portal on their website. In addition, participants will be given field guides and checklists specific to Sears Island printed from iNaturalist, a website FOSI is using to create a database of the plant and animal species that can be seen on the island. McKeage will also discuss other exciting citizen science programs as well as apps and websites you can use to enrich your experience in nature while also contributing to an important collection of data that will help FOSI and other groups measure changes in biodiversity over time. This hands-on program will leave you feeling inspired about the simple actions you can take to make a difference in monitoring and protecting our natural resources.

Aleta McKeage is the Technical Director at Waldo County Soil and Water Conservation District and an ecological consultant at GreenWays Eco Center in Belfast. McKeage managed the Sears Island Stewardship Project last summer and will continue her work of removing invasive plants and monitoring this summer with several college interns.

This event is free and open to the public. Sears Island is on Sears Island Road off Route 1 just east of Searsport. Participants should park along the causeway at the end of the road and meet at the kiosk near the island gate by 10:00am. If you have a smartphone, we encourage you to download the free iNaturalist app before the walk, as it may enrich your experience (however, this is not required). Please wear footwear appropriate for hiking, clothing to protect against ticks and the weather, and bring water, a snack, and insect repellent. Please no pets on guided walks. For more information and updates about cancellations in the event of inclement weather, visit www.friendsofsearsisland.org, facebook.com/friendsofsearsisland, or call Ashley at (207) 975-3878.

Morning Bird Walk on Sears Island

Photo by Karl Gerstenberger (kegserstenberger.zenfolio.com)

Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition offers several free outings for birders this month, including a morning bird walk on Sears Island.

Saturday, May 20 at 7:00 am

Join Maine Master Naturalist Cloe Chunn for an early morning bird walk on Sears Island. Park along the causeway and meet at the kiosk just beyond the island gate. Bring binoculars and wear tick repellent clothing. May 13-20 is Bird Week, and this walk will cap off a week of birding events sponsored by the Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition.

Here is the complete schedule of Bird Week events offered by Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition:

Saturday, May 13, 9:00 am-1:00 pm

Paddle the South Branch of the Marsh River, Frankfort/Prospect, 6 miles roundtrip in flatwater. Marsh wrens, saltmarsh sharptail sparrows, red-wing blackbirds, waterfowl. Meet at the Frankfort boat launch on Rt. 1A. Bring kayak/canoe, paddle, PFD, water, lunch, sun/rain/bug protection, binoculars.

6 Morning Bird Walks
Each walk starts at 7:00 am.  Wear tick repellent clothing.

  • Monday, May 15: Head of Tide Preserve, CMLT, Doak Road, Belfast.
  • Tuesday, May 16: Cloe and David’s farm, 210 Oak Hill Road, Swanville.
  • Wednesday, May 17: Ducktrap River Trail, CMLT, Rt. 52, Lincolnville.
  • Thursday, May 18: In-Town Nature Trail, Meet at the Muck (Kirby Lake), Belfast.
  • Friday, May 19: Main Stream Preserve, CMLT, Prospect. Meet at 7 am at Searsport Irving Station to carpool.
  • Saturday May 20: Sears Island, finale of Bird Week. Meet at the causeway gate to Sears Island in Searsport.

Thursday, May 18, 6:30 pm
Bird Identification and Conservation  at the Belfast Library.

Jody Telfair, a Maine Master Naturalist, will join our Bird Week efforts with a review of bird identification. She will also discuss ways to help birds, migratory and resident, survive.

Friday, May 19, 7:30 pm
Evening Woodcock Watch (Rain date Sat., May 20)

With Mike Shannon at Cloe and David’s farm, 210 Oak Hill Road, Swanville.

Visit http://belfastbaywatershed.org/Bird-Week.php for more information.

What is Rockweed and why is it important?

The familiar greenish-brown macroalgae that covers the rocky shores of New England and maritime Canada is commonly called rockweed. Most of it is the species Ascophyllum nodosum. Rockweed has been harvested commercially and extracts from it are used for fertilizer or thickeners for food and cosmetics (these thickeners are called alginates). Until recently, there has been little regulation on rockweed harvesting.

Continue reading What is Rockweed and why is it important?