Fall Bird Migration Video

On Tuesday, August 25th at 6:00pm, the Belfast Free Library and Friends of Sears Island co-hosted a virtual presentation with Seth Benz titled “Dust Off Your Binoculars, Fall Bird Migration is Upon Us!” Shorebirds, hawks, seaducks, gannets, songbirds: autumn’s southbound parade is one of nature’s finest spectacles. This presentation covered the beauty and basics of fall bird migration, including where, when, and how to pay attention. The program will be offered live via Zoom. To view the video of Seth’s presentation, click this link: https://youtu.be/CFge6-bS6Ds

Seth Benz is the director of bird ecology at Schoodic Institute in Acadia National Park. He has lived on a seabird island, counted hawks from a mountain top, caught peregrine falcons on an east coast barrier island, and introduced thousands of people to the pleasures of birds and birding.

For more information about the Belfast Free Library, visit www.belfastlibrary.org. To learn more about Friends of Sears Island check out www.friendsofsearsisland.org.

Photo credit: Great blue heron, by Karl Gerstenberger, kegerstenberger.zenfolio.com

Free Animal Migration Activity Bags


At the start of the school year, Friends of Sears Island (FOSI) typically kicks off Science Squad, a monthly after school program for youth ages 5-12 and their parents that engages children as explorers, scientists, and stewards of the local environment. These programs are typically held in-person, but given the pandemic, FOSI has opted to offer families a socially distant, self-serve version of Science Squad this fall, in the form of grab-and-go activity bags.

September’s theme is animal migrations, and this month’s kit will include lessons and activity guides about monarch butterfly and bird migrations. The activity bag will contain all the materials needed to make a pinecone bird feeder for birds journeying south, a small journal to keep track of migratory bird species, and a magnifying glass to encourage families to visit the milkweed field on Sears Island and look for monarchs in various stages of their lifecycle.

“As families adapt to new ways of educating their children in this unprecedented time, we want to encourage them to use Sears Island as a natural classroom. We hope that these themed activity bags will inspire parents and their children to learn outdoors together,” said FOSI’s Outreach Coordinator, Ashley Megquier. “Parents are invited to bring their kids to pick up their kit and then stay to explore on Sears Island, but many of the activities can easily be done at home too.”

The kits are free and intended for children ages 5-12. Donations to FOSI are always greatly appreciated to allow the organization to continue to offer programming to all at no cost. Activity bag quantities are limited and will be distributed to families on a first-come, first-served basis. The pick-up date for this month will be Tuesday, September 15, from 3:30-5:00pm on Sears Island, but if families cannot make that time, they can pick up their bags at the Carver Memorial Library in Searsport at their earliest convenience. To reserve a kit for your child, please email outreach@friendsofsearsisland.org.

Vernal Pools on Zoom

On Monday May 4th, 6:30 pm the Belfast Free Library in collaboration with Friends of Sears Island will host a virtual presentation about vernal pools with Dr. Amanda Cross from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. The program will be offered live via Zoom. If you would like to join please email bharrington@belfastlibrary.org to receive the link and password, which will be sent the day before the program.

While many things have changed this spring, the dependable calls of the wood frog and spring peeper have started once again. While we cannot visit vernal pools together in person this year, please join us for a virtual exploration of these remarkable ecosystems, the unique animals that live there, and simple techniques for exploring pools safely on your own.

Dr. Amanda Cross is a wildlife biologist with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife with 15 years’ experience studying and teaching vernal pool ecology across Maine. She lives close to several vernal pools in Harpswell, where she and her family enjoy catching frogs, counting egg masses, and mimicking amphibian calls.

Down to Earth: Fun with Dirt, Worms, Seeds and More!

To celebrate the start of spring, Friends of Sears Island will host an after-school science program for kids ages 6-12 about how seeds germinate and grow, and how we can prepare soil for optimal growth conditions. The program will be led by Jenni Judkins at the Belfast Free Library on Monday, March 23rd, from 4:00-5:30pm. Jenni will guide children through a variety of stations where they can make seed bombs from clay and seeds, learn about composting with worms, combine different types of soil to make an ideal potting mix, learn about using seaweed as fertilizer, and plant some seeds to take home. Kids will also learn about different seed shapes and adaptations for distribution and the amazing potential they contain. Come play in the dirt, check things out under a microscope, and sow some seeds with us!

This free program is for kids ages 6-12 with an accompanying adult. Advance registration is required. To sign-up, please visit https://march-science-squad.eventbrite.com. This event is part of Friends of Sears Island’s “Science Squad,” an after-school program engaging children as scientists, explorers, and stewards of their environment. Jenni Judkins is the Natural Literacy Coordinator for the Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition.

This event will take place in the Abbott Room at the Belfast Free Library. For more information, call 207-975-3878.

Science Squad Treasure Hunt on WABI-TV


WABI-TV’s Joy Hollowell visited Sears Island this morning (July 22) to find out more about this exciting Science Squad program, led by Dirigo Learning Center’s Robin Huntley. Science Squad programs are supported by Sprague Energy’s charitable fund. Watch the story by clicking below!

Sears Island Treasure Hunt for Kids with Robin Huntley

A young explorer displays his collection of natural treasures. Photo by Robin Huntley

Who doesn’t love finding treasures in nature?!  The treasures found in a place say a lot about it-  they can show who lives there, what kinds of habitat are available, and what seasonal phenomena are taking place. Robin Huntley, founder of Dirigo Learning Community-Based Education, will lead youth participants on a treasure-finding exploration of Sears Island on July 22nd, from 9:30-11:30am.  Participants will collect items throughout their adventure, arrange what they find as a tiny museum, and share with the group about their collection.  Treasures cannot be taken home from the island, but we’ll photograph each collection once it’s put together! This free program is for children ages 6-12 accompanied by an adult. To participate, advance registration is required as space is limited.

Please CLICK HERE to register.

This event is part of Friends of Sears Island’s “Science Squad,” an program involving children as scientists, explorers, and stewards of their environment. Sears Island is located on Sears Island Road off Route 1 just east of Searsport. Registered participants should park along the causeway at the end of the road and meet at the island gate by 9:30am. No pets are permitted at public programs. In the event of inclement weather, this program will be cancelled. For updates and more information, visit www.facebook.com/friendsofsearsisland or call 207-975-3878.

Intertidal Exploration on Sears Island’s Beaches

Blue mussels on the shore of Sears Island. Photo by Alison Dibble.

Summer beaches aren’t just for sunbathing and picnics! Join Friends of Sears Island for an exploration of intertidal organisms and their habitat on the beaches of Sears Island with Sarah O’Malley on July 8th, from 9:00-11:00am on Sears Island. We will search out various organisms and learn about the adaptations these animals and algae have that enable them to make this challenging environment their home.

Sarah O’Malley is an instructor at Maine Maritime Academy, in the Corning School of Ocean Studies. Her research interests include intertidal ecology, microplastics in the marine environment, and the impact of climate change on the ocean. As a passionate science communicator, Sarah doesn’t stop at the classes she teaches. She also produces a short science and nature radio show for the local community radio station, and writes about human experiences in the natural world for various venues.

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 9:00am. Bring water, a snack, and insect repellent. Please no pets on guided walks. In the event of steady rain, the program will be cancelled. For more information and updates, visit www.friendsofsearsisland.org, http://facebook.com/friendsofsearsisland, or call 207-975-3878.

Observation and Journaling Experience

Making Friends in Nature: An Observation and Journaling Experience on Sears Island

Friends of Sears Island will host a nature observation and journaling workshop on Sears Island on July 1, from 3:00-5:00pm. The program will be led by Cloe Chunn, of the Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition. Cloe will lead participants in a hike through the woods along the Homestead Trail, then down to the shore, and will discuss the value of keeping a personal record of your observations, imaginations, and inspirations. There will be opportunity to draw chosen species, write, and share. This program is free and open to the public, but program attendees should plan to bring a pencil, black pen, and colored pencils. Bring your own journal, or purchase one for $2.00 when you arrive.

Cloe Chunn is a former high school and college teacher, a naturalist, outdoor writer, and Registered Maine Guide. She is a cofounder and faculty member in the Maine Master Naturalist Program. Her book, Fifty Hikes in the Maine Mountains (W.W. Norton), has been a Maine standard hiking guide, continually updated and revised for over 30 years.

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 3:00pm. Wear footwear appropriate for walking in the woods and on the beach, and clothing to protect against ticks and the weather. Bring water, a snack, and insect repellent. Please no pets on guided walks. In the event of rain, the program will be rescheduled to July 2nd, from 3:00-5:00pm. For more information and updates, visit www.friendsofsearsisland.org, http://facebook.com/friendsofsearsisland or call 207-975-3878.

Photo credit: Cloe Chunn

Photo caption: Details from Cloe Chunn’s nature journals.