Dr. Mark McCollough, endangered species biologist with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, will speak on “The Rusty Patched Bumble Bee, Maine Newest Endangered Species” at the Belfast Free Library on February 6th, at 6:30pm. This program is free and open to the public.
The rusty patched bumble bee was added to the Federal Endangered Species List in March 2017. It was once one of Maine’s most abundant and widespread bumble bees, but has disappeared from much of its range. It was last seen in the mid-coast region of Penobscot Bay and may still exist here. Why are the rusty patched bumble bee, yellow-banded bumble bee, and many other pollinator species declining? What can you do to help? Would you like to help search for bumble bees this summer? Mark will discuss the fascinating ecology of this bumble bee and explain several programs that Federal and State agencies are initiating to help pollinator species in the state.
Dr. McCollough has been an endangered species biologist for the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the last 15 years. Before that he worked for Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and was leader of the Nongame and Endangered wildlife programs. Mark works on everything from bumble bees to Canada lynx to the elusive Furbish’s lousewort. Some may know that Mark is also a wildlife artist. You may own a piece of his art and not know it (Maine’s chickadee and loon automobile license plates as well as Maine’s latest endangered species poster).
Friends of Sears Island (FOSI) recently received a generous grant from the Davis Conservation Foundation to create “Science Squad,” a place-based after-school program involving children as citizen scientists. In the coming year, FOSI will host an after-school program once a month for 12 students and their parents, during each month that school is in session. This program will engage children throughout the seasons as explorers, researchers, and stewards of their local environment. They will also contribute valuable data to a variety of citizen science projects, including FOSI’s database of island biodiversity.
Future programs will be announced via our email list, and also on the website. If you would like to be added to our email list, please complete our contact form. Programs have filled up quickly, so be sure to sign up promptly!
Friends of Sears Island invites you to join us for a fundraising dinner at Anglers Restaurant in Searsport, Wednesday, November 8th, from 4:00pm-8:00pm. Enjoy a delicious meal, and Anglers Restaurant will graciously donate 10% of your tab to Friends of Sears Island to support conservation and education programs. This is a great opportunity to support both a local business and a local nonprofit! Anglers Restaurant is located at 215 East Main Street in Searsport. More information about the restaurant can be found at http://www.anglersseafoodrestaurant.com/ and reservations can be made for parties of 8 or more by calling (207) 548-2405. To learn more about Friends of Sears Island, visit http://www.friendsofsearsisland.org.
Join Friends of Sears Island for a branch weaving workshop with Sandi Cirillo on Sunday, October 1st, from 9am-12pm. She will lead program attendees on an exploration of Sears Island while gathering natural materials to create a weaving, suitable for display in your home or a child’s room. We’ll look for a small but sturdy branch and then learn how to weave on found items. Everyone on this outing will learn more about the environment on Sears Island and how important it is to protect it. Registration is required for this event- please call 207-975-3878 to sign-up, as space is limited. This program is free and open to ages 7 and up. Children must attend with an adult who will be responsible for their supervision.
Sandi has been a fiber/mixed media artist for over 25 years and is a retired art educator who gives many different fiber workshops in the Northeast, North Carolina, locally at her home studio in Searsport, and through Bucksport Adult Education. Visit her website, www.especially-for-ewe.com to see examples of Sandi’s work and a list of available workshops.
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. Please bring a beach blanket to sit on while weaving and a pair of sturdy scissors. Also wear sturdy shoes, suitable clothing for hiking, and bring a snack, water, and bug spray if desired. Please no pets for this event. For more information and updates in the event of inclement weather, visit www.friendsofsearsisland.org, www.facebook.com/friendsofsearsisland, or call Ashley at 207-975-3878.
Friends of Sears Island will be hosting a mushroom walk led by David Porter on September 13th, from 10am-12pm. David is a graduate of Yale and the University of Washington, and worked as a professor in the Plant Biology Department at the University of Georgia. His specialty is mycology, the study of mushrooms and other fungi. Program attendees will observe numerous fall mushrooms, learn the basics of mushroom identification, and become aware of commonly overlooked signs of the hidden underground activities of mushrooms and other fungi and how they contribute to the ecology of the Maine forest.
This event is free and open to the public, and questions and curiosity are welcomed. 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 10am. Wear footwear appropriate for walking in the woods, 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 steady rain, the program will be cancelled. For more information and updates, visit www.friendsofsearsisland.org, facebook.com/friendsofsearsisland or call Ashley at 207-975-3878.
Friends of Sears Island will be hosting a free after-school program on monarch butterflies with Serena Cole for children ages 5-10 on September 12th, from 4:15-5:30pm. Serena has been a biology and environmental educator for 30 years. She has led student science groups to Costa Rica, and been involved with citizen science projects at Schoodic Point Educational Research Center. Children will learn about monarch life cycles and hike to a large milkweed field where they will have the opportunity to look for butterflies and carefully net and assist with tagging them as part of the Monarch Watch program, which tracks the annual butterfly migration. The milkweed field on Sears Island also just received certification as a “Monarch Waystation” through Monarch Watch, designating it as an important habitat for the butterflies. Program attendees will help install the new waystation sign in the field as well. This is an exciting way for children to get involved in citizen science. To ensure a quality experience and enough materials for each child, space for this program is limited and you must register by calling 207-975-3878.
Taking care of Sears Island has continued to be a hands-on venture this year, our second year of implementing our new Stewardship Management Plan. As always, invasive plant control is at the forefront of our efforts. We also completed more biological monitoring on long term study plots and sensitive areas (see photos). We were ably assisted by Unity College students and the Waldo County Soil and Water Conservation District’s Conservation Corps interns. Students learned about scientific data collection by assisting biologist Aleta McKeage in collecting data on plants growing in permanent plots, which are sampled every 5 years. This study will allow us to track changes in the natural community over time. The interns and other volunteers are also actively involved in our major drive to control invasive plants on the island, and have removed stands of oriental bittersweet, purple loosestrife, garden valerian and Japanese barberry. A complete assessment of invasive plants, including mapping of all known plants was completed last year, and now our push is to remove them, with a goal to eradicate many species entirely. Sears Island, in fact, is one of the few locations in Midcoast Maine that is relatively free of invasives and has the potential to be a healthy refuge for native plants and wildlife.
We had a wonder-filled Kids Week on Sears Island! We were able to offer these experiences free to local children thanks to a grant from the Maine Community Foundation. During the first day, children created art on the beach by using sunprint paper to make prints of found items, rock and driftwood sculptures, and crafted paintbrushes from natural materials. On the second day we learned about animal adaptations and habitats by playing educational games and exploring the beach, forest, and milkweed field with magnifying glasses and field guides on hand. We also did an interesting activity to learn about non-point source pollution and how our water can become polluted over time, and discussed what stewardship means. On the last day, children learned map reading skills, worked as a group to find buried treasure, designed maps to create scavenger hunts for each other, and learned to use a GPS to find geocaches stashed in interesting spots around the island. A fun time was had by all! Thank you to the families that participated.
As part of Searsport Heritage Days, Friends of Sears Island will be hosting a walk titled “Archaeology of Sears Island and Upper Penobscot Bay: A Window Through Deep Time,” led by Paul Bock, on Saturday, August 12th, from 9:30-11:00am. Paul is an archaeologist and the owner of Stoney Knoll Archaeological Supply in Searsport. The program will focus on some of the Native American sites that have been excavated in the area, from the Archaic period, through the Ceramic Period and into the Euro-Contact period. Paul will also touch on some of the important early historic sites within the immediate area (17th and 18th century), as well as how Sears Island was exploited during that period. Program participants are encouraged to bring any artifacts they’ve found on Sears Island for identification, as surface finds can be an important tool to help identify new archaeological sites.
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 just beyond the island gate by 9:30am. 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 steady rain, the program will be cancelled. For more information and updates, visit www.friendsofsearsisland.org, facebook.com/friendsofsearsisland or call Ashley at 207-975-3878.