The Downeast Lakes Land Trust was pleased to lead a hike along the Musquash Esker on September 27th as part of the Great Maine Outdoor Weekend.
Amid fall’s first flush of yellow-leaved popple and red maples, hikers explored the biology surrounding the plants and animals common to early successional forests in the Downeast region. Stopping by a small alder stand, hikers investigated the protein rich catkins which provide forage for ruffed grouse. “This is one of those wild foods which is edible to humans, but tastes terrible.” said hike leader, Tanya Rucosky. “Grouse, however can eat bitter foods that other animals avoid, and thus also eat larch tips, young cones, and aspen buds.” After putting up a grouse, hikers discussed grouse’s innovative behavioral and physical adaptations to life at the northern end of their range. Grouse burrow into snowbanks to stay warm overnight, and grow combs on their feet which are thought to act as snowshoes.
On the esker itself, Rucosky discussed the climatic and geological processes that create eskers, as well as other glacial features, such as the domed bog found on the south-western side of the Musquash esker. The older mixed hardwood forest along the esker afforded opportunities for the exploration of topics ranging from cankers, tree identification, medicinal mushrooms to beach bark disease. “The forest and water around the esker is a microcosm of the rich diversity that the Downeast Lakes Land Trust conserves– a mosaic of young and old forests, as well as wetlands at this highly diverse conjunction of the boreal and Northern hardwood forests.” said Rucosky.
The DLLT regularly hosts speakers, work parties, and workshops, and leads outdoor adventures that highlight the natural and cultural history of the Maine woods and waters. Visit our website to discover what is happening next!