Natural History Week at Bearnstow

June 2327 and July 7, 2014



Bearnstow Launched Natural History Week, Monday, June 23

With Dr. Andrew Barton on “The Changing Nature of the Maine Woods”





On Tuesday, June 24, Kevin Doran, Forester and Natural Science Educator for the Maine Forest Service, took us through the forest and demontrated how the age of a tree is determined.



Wednesday, June 25:
Eric Jones, Assistant Professor of Plant Biology, University of Maine at Machias
     “Citizen Science: Using Natural History Skills to Support Scientific Research”
(additional images under preparation)

Thursday, June 26:
Julia Daly, Associate Professor of Geology, University of Maine at Farmington
     “Evolution of Maine's Landforms and Lakes”
(additional images under preparation)


On Monday, July 7, Alene Onion, Invertebrate Biologist, N.Y. State Department of Environmental Conservation, presented “Parker Pond's Animals Without Backbones,” demonstrating how the small animals without backbones that live in Parker Pond, could help determine the quailty of the pond’s water.


Videos by Ben Grinberg. See Ben's other videos on Vimeo.




Bearnstow lies on 65 acres of nearly pristine woodland alongside 2,400 feet of Parker Pond’s rocky shoreline. In a walk along the trails beside the lake and the brook, we can see a vast variety of vegetationaccording to one state forester, “more than any other site I have visited.” Since 1922 the property’s natural environment has been carefully protected, first by Colby College biology professor Webster Chester, and then by Bearnstow.

We have a registered State of Maine “Big Tree” (an Alle­ghany service berry), erratic boulders, clay subsoil, ground pines, trailing arbutus, five kinds of native ever­greens visible from one vista, reindeer moss, and lichen once used to make lavender dye. The pure water of Parker Pond is phenomenal: over the years it has never failed to test drinking safe.



Natural History Week 2013

Bearnstow was pleased to present four natural history programs in four days during the final week of June 2013. These included our own local naturalist and a horticulturist from New York, two foresters from the Maine State Forestry Service, a freshwater biologist from the Nature Conservancy, and a local archaeologist. Photos in the slide shows below capture only a few moments of the week’s presentations. Hold mouse over photos to pause slide changes.

Monday, June 24, Carol Gregory, Bearnstow Staff Naturalist, and Jack Gambino, Horticulturist, Former Parks Supervisor, NYC Department of Parks and Recreation. See program (PDF).

Tuesday, June 25, Kevin Doran, Natural Science Educator, Maine Forest Service; and Morten Moesswilde, District Forester, Maine Forest Service. See program (PDF).


Wednesday, June 26: David Courtemanch, Freshwater Science and Policy Specialist, The Nature Conservancy. Assisted by Matt Scott, formerly of the TNC. See program (PDF).


Thursday, June 27: Mark Hedden, Archeologist, Vienna, Maine. Showing of the documentary, The Petroglyphs of Maine See program (PDF).




Naturalists’ Week at Bearnstow Summer 2012
Held August 26 to September 1

Pete Warny (ecologist, New York City) and Alene Onion (invertebrate biologist, New York
State Department of Environmental Conservation) at the Naturalists’ Week at Bearnstow


Peter Warny, a former ecologist with the Nature Conservancy and National Audubon Society, travels extensively across America, focusing on wetlands habitats and documenting changes in the food webs composed of aquatic insects, fish, amphibians, and reptiles. Peter led nature walks around the camp to examine plants, animals, and the geology of rocks and minerals. During evening presentations, Peter spoke about recent field surveys to Louisiana marshes and the Florida Gulf of Mexico as well as current eco-phenomena in the Northeast, in both urban and rural landscapes such as New York, Cape Cod, and Pennsylvania.

The slide show gives highlights of the August 28 nature walk at The Ledges and along Uncle Daniel’s Brook, led by Pete Warny. Photos by Dasha Chernova



Alene Onion with her daughter
on the Hudson River

Alene Onion is the coordinator of the New York State WAVE program, which stands for “Wadeable Assessments by Volunteer Evaluators” and harvests the effort of numerous volunteers to define the water quality in New York State. Aquatic macroinvertebrates are small invertebrates visible by eye that live solely in aquatic ecosystems. Scientists and habitat managers use these organisms as bioindicators—“canaries in the coal mine”—to tell us if the water body has been impacted by a pollution event. Healthy water bodies will have an abundant diversity of aquatic macroinvertebrates, whereas polluted systems will have only the most robust creatures.

Alene is an employee of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. She lives in Albany, New York, with her daughter and husband and frequently travels to her family’s home on Parker Pond. As a child she regularly attended day camp at Bearnstow.

On Monday, August 27, Alene brought us to the sandy beach at the cove, and our group found and identified numerous invertebrates in the sand and under rocks. The verdict: Parker Pond’s water quality is excellent.