Category Archives: News

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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.

New Documentary comes to Rockland May 4th

The new documentary Ocean Frontiers III comes to Maine in May! Join us on May 4th in Rockland at the Strand Theater for this truly unique and hopeful ocean film that explores the challenges at the heart of ocean conservation and development. The film presents solutions from a range of people who are leading the way to a healthy and sustainable ocean future, and features several Mainers!

May 4 in Rockland – Ocean Frontiers III Film & Panel Discussion

When: Thur. May 4 – Reception 6pm · Film 7pm · Panel/Q&A 8pm

Where: The Strand Theatre, 345 Main St., Rockland, ME 04841

Free admission & refreshments

RSVP to save your seat: http://bit.ly/OF3-Strand

Panel:

  • Melissa Gates – Northeast Regional Manager, Surfrider Foundation
  • Richard Nelson – Commercial Fisherman, Captain F/V Pescadero
  • John Van Dis – Middle School Science Teacher, Edna Drinkwater School
  • Moderator: Nick Battista – Marine Programs Director, Island Institute

Presented by: Island Institute and Green Fire Productions, with Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition, Conservation Law Foundation, Friends of Sears Island, Herring Gut Learning Center, Hurricane Island Foundation, Islesboro Islands Trust, Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, Maine Island Trail Association, The Nature Conservancy, Penobscot Marine Museum, Sierra Club Maine Surfrider Foundation, and the University of Maine Darling Marine Center.

“Spring Blooms” Wildflower Walk on Sears Island

Starflower blooming on Sears Island

Celebrate the debut of spring on a wildflower walk with Friends of Sears Island and program leader Grace Bartlett, on Friday, May 5th from 10:00am-12:00pm. Like other species, wildflowers go through a cycle of life. We will look for seed pods and other remnants of last year’s flowers, as well as the earliest spring wildflowers such as Canada mayflowers, trillium, and skunk cabbage. We will also explore the unique ways flowers attract pollinators, thus producing the next generation of flowers. Grace Bartlett is a Maine Master Naturalist, who is naturally curious about all things outdoors. She is especially interested in studying and photographing the Lilliputian world of lichens and mosses.

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. Please wear footwear appropriate for hiking, clothing suitable for the weather and insects, 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.

Winter Ecology Walk on Sears Island

Friends of Sears Island will be hosting a winter ecology walk on Sunday, March 12th from 1:30 pm- 3:30 pm. Enjoy a late winter walk on Sears Island with Maine Master Naturalists Sally Jones and Donne Sinderson, while searching for animal tracks in the snow, signs of spring, and observing the ever changing beauty of the island. Families with children are welcome and encouraged to attend.

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 1:30 pm. Snowshoes and walking sticks are encouraged but not necessary. Please wear footwear and outdoor gear appropriate for winter hiking. Bring binoculars if desired, as well as water and a snack. Please no pets on guided walks. For more information and updates about cancellations in the event of extreme weather, visit facebook.com/friendsofsearsisland or call Ashley at 975-3878.

 

Successful Sears Island Stewardship Project Nears Completion

Last summer, Friends of Sears Island (FOSI) developed and implemented a comprehensive stewardship plan for the 601-acre Conservation Area on Sears Island, thanks to grants from the Maine Community Foundation, the Davis Conservation Foundation, and the Town of Searsport. Aleta McKeage and Cloe Chunn of GreenWays Center and Consulting Group led this ambitious effort, with help from college interns, Belfast High School and Unity College students, and FOSI volunteers, logging over 120 hours in the field.

Field managers surveyed the island for invasive plants and with the help of students and volunteers, removed a significant portion of the established plants, eradicating most purple loosestrife and oriental bittersweet from the area, and also eliminating many single bushes and patches of Japanese barberry. Garden valerian and purple loosestrife were completely removed from the sensitive coastal dune grassland area, which is a rare plant community in Maine. Biological and sensitive features monitoring, mapping, and the developing of resources and tools for “citizen scientists” were also components of this project.

The observations made this summer and other data formed the basis for creating guides to birds, wildlife and plants on the island, which include checklists, printable picture guides and field journals, now accessible on the Friends of Sears Island website. Tools for reporting observations and submitting photos are also available on the website, as well as an Inaturalist project that can be used to submit observations using a Smartphone. As people visit the island and report noteworthy sightings of flora and fauna, FOSI hopes to accumulate a thorough record of changes on the island over time.

This intensive monitoring and management program will continue to provide many opportunities in the coming years for those who care about Sears Island to help protect the island and the plants and animals that reside there.

More Details on Upcoming Dinner Fundraiser at Nautilus

Friends of Sears Island invites you to join us for a fundraising dinner at Nautilus Seafood & Grill in Belfast, Wednesday, February 22nd from 4:00pm-9:00pm. Enjoy a delicious meal, and Nautilus will graciously donate 10% of your tab to Friends of Sears Island to support conservation and education programs. Please note, when you arrive at the restaurant, you must tell your server you are there to support Friends of Sears Island. This is a great opportunity to support a local business and a local nonprofit!

Nautilus Seafood & Grill is located at 3 Main Street in Belfast. A menu and more information about the restaurant can be found at www.nautilusseafoodandgrill.com, and reservations can be made by calling 207-218-4218. FMI: contact Ashley at outreach@friendsofsearsisland.org or 207-975-3878.