Mountains to Marsh Trail -- Summer
Welcome to the Mountains to Marsh trail. This trail takes you from upland areas of the Penquis
Virtual Nature Center to the lowlands. Just follow along and carry out any instructions you may get. Try to
decide what you are hearing, smelling, touching, or feeling before going on to get the answer.
If you want to test yourself, or play a game with yourself or someone else, keep track of your
right answers. Ready to start? Remember, long files can take a half minute or so to download.
It is a cool summer day with intermittent showers. You have your slicker with you. You are going
to do the trail by yourself, today, you and your dog. You run through the check. Slicker. Bug
repellent. Radio. Cane. Dog. Self. Yup, all assembled, so off you go.
There is somebody (long)(WK) who is glad of the cool, rainy weather. Toads
and other frogs don't sing much except at night, but sometimes a cool, moist day will bring them
Evidently, frogs aren't the only ones singing today. A bird or two also
plan to have their say. This one is a cardinal. Pleasant birds. And here is another
familiar old friend. The chickadee. Maine's state bird. Also that of
Massachusetts, but we won't talk about that.
Yes, lots of birds today. Back in the direction of the nature center you hear a
familiar sound. A crow. And cicada (DVG).
Overhead, you hear a familiar twittering. Tree swallows hunting insects.
Good hunting, guys. That one sounds a little different.(DVG) Must
be a barn swallow. Well, the more insect eaters the better.
Off in the distance comes a rapid series of notes. Listen. It must be
a flicker. These are the only woodpecker that often feeds on the ground, eating ants. So is it
really an ant-pecker? You puff a bit over the a rise and hear a relative of the flicker. Its
sharp 'peek'(long)(DVG) sound identifies it as a hairy.
And that (DVG) must be the bird drumming. The downy drums faster; the other woodpeckers slower
or more irregularly.
The trail begins to descend. Finally. You must be heading down to the low-lying areas.
You sweep your cane back and forth overhead and beside the trail and encounter branches. Squarish
needles growing out singly from the branch, about as long as the last joint on a person's finger.
You crush one, but get no smell. A red spruce. And onward.
The trail levels out. You must be down. Your cane encounters branches and you feel along one. Ah-ha!
Oval, finely toothed leaves. You feel more and find a lingering tiny cone from last year. Must be an alder. You're definately in the
marsh area now. And, yes, a common resident of marshy and shrubby tunes up. A yellow
This is the end of the short loop. Wait! What is that?(long)(WK)
Wood frogs. A bit late, but there they are..
Well. You can head on back to the lobby, or you can go back to the trail heads. Or you can continue on with
this trail. What do you wish to do?
You've decided to continue with the Mountains to Marsh Trail. You know you are near the beaver
pond. Was that the splash
of a beaver tail on water (DVG), warning, perhaps, of your presence? And what was that other sound?
It was like a sort of shriek. Could it have been a weasel? You've never heard one, but you know
that both species of weasel in our area give that sort of sound when agitated or when seizing
prey. Sounded eerie. They generally hunt at night, but if they're hungry, guess they'd hunt on
dim days like this, too. You give a bit of shrug and move on.
A bird. A very expected one. This little character is announcing his territory in
the marsh vegetation. Have a listen.
Yup, a song sparrow. You feel a drop of rain, and hurry your steps.
You walk on past the area. A tree arrests your cane and your attention. It is obviously an
evergreen. It has short, rounded needles growing singly along the branch. A spruce. The ground.
is quite wet. Which makes the tree a black spruce.
It is up the hill a ways beyond you, but here comes a friendly sound.
A red-breasted nuthatch. Conifers there, though you believe there are mainly hardwoods around
you, lowland hardwoods. And you're right. That song will be heard only
from deciduous forests. It is a red-eyed vireo.
Just as you make the turn to head across the bench and back to the center, you hear behind
you a frog of some sort (long)(WK). Sounds like one of the
gray treefrogs. You have no idea which. And the guide in the museum says not to worry about it -
unless you happen to be a gray treefrog yourself. Which you are pretty sure you are not.
Almost back to the center, you hear another bird. Common here. The mockingbird supposedly repeats each
phrase of its song three times or more, while relatives like brown thrasher and catbird repeat
them once or twice only. At least one insect isn't bothered by the
weather (DVG). Or maybe he's trying to fill up before it gets worse.
Well, it has been fun, but you are back at the trail head. You find the various pointers and
check them for directions. A pleasant day, even with the drop or two of rain.
Oops! (DVG) That sounds like we may get more than a drop or two. Better head inside.
Created July 6, 2003