Plants and Animals

Plants and Animals

Following is a list of animals and plants that can be seen in and around Taunton Bay:

Horseshoe Crabs – Taunton Bay is the northern limit of the breeding range of the Horseshoe Crab. These ancient arthropods breed at the high tide line from mid May to early June. A recent survey of their breeding activity found them mating around much of the shoreline of Taunton Bay. Using specially adapted palps, males grasp females from behind and follow them as they lay their eggs.

Bald Eagles – Still an endangered species in Maine, the bald eagle flourishes on Taunton Bay. Eagles have a long history in the region, predating the earliest European settlers. There are two active nests on the bay this spring. Although known as “fish eagles,” the eagles on Taunton Bay eat few fish. Their diet consists mainly of herons in summer and ducks in the winter. Eagles are year-round residents of the bay.

Pink Ladies’ Slipper – This beautiful plant is well-suited to the region’s typically acid soil. It thrives beneath oaks and pines around Taunton Bay.

Great Blue Heron – The Great Blue Heron is still a common sight around Taunton Bay though its number have dwindled in recent years.

Bobcat – The Bobcat is rarely seen but it occasionally emerges during hard winters to hunt for food around homes and outbuildings, then melt into the woods again.

White Form Pink Lady’s Slipper – The rare white form of the Pink Lady’s Slipper, or Moccasin Flower, is also found around Taunton Bay. (Photo by Sheila Karlson.)

Fox – Foxes are seen more easily during the winter months when they cross the ice to get from one part of the bay to another. Along with the crows and eagles, they glean the shores for tidbits washed in on the ice.

Canada Geese and  Black Ducks – Taunton Bay is an important staging area for Canada geese during spring and fall migration. These large geese will fly across most of the state of Maine but often choose Taunton Bay as a feeding and resting stop before continuing their journey North or South. Eelgrass is one of their favorite foods, drawing them to the shallows of the bay. Black ducks also feed on eelgrass, or, more accurately on the periwinkles crawling along its blades. It might seem that geese and ducks feeding side by side are competing for the same food but that is not the case. (Photo by Sheila Karlson).

Sandpipers – The mudflats of Taunton Bay provide acres of food for migrating sandpipers and plovers passing through the region in July and August on their way from Canada to South America. These shorebirds put on a great deal of weight in the form of food reserves enabling them to fly three days without stopping.

Snowy Owl – The Snowy Owl is an occasional visitor to the wooded shores of Taunton Bay during the winter months. Particularly when food is scarce farther north. (Photo by Sheila Karlson).

Worms – Sand and blood worms are harvested from the flats of Taunton Bay then shipped live as bait for sports fisheries all over the world. As with other harvesting activities, a healthy bay is essential if the worms are to continue to flourish.

Osprey – The Osprey is another resident of the bay that has declined in numbers the last few years. This is due largely to the depletion of flounder and smelt in Taunton Bay. Ospreys have several nests in the area, and occasionally as many as ten can be seen hovering over the shallows. They can plummet a hundred feet to seize unwary fish. Eagles, arch scavengers that they are, often attempt to steal an osprey’s catch.

Kelp – Kelp is harvested in the region to be used for a variety of products from candy to salad fixings. Shipped worldwide from the shores of the bay, kelp and other sea vegetables play a role in the diet of a large percentage of the world’s population. Clean water is essential to both kelp and those who harvest it.

Eelgrass – The Friends of Taunton Bay have conducted an aerial survey of eelgrass beds in the bay, establishing a baseline against which to measure changes in this vital link in the food chain. We plan to repeat the survey every five years to keep track of the decline or advance of this vital resource.

White-Tailed Deer – White-tailed deer are an ever-present part of the Taunton Bay ecosystem. They are frequently seen walking single file across the ice in the winter months, following the dream of greener cedar leaves and lichen on the other side.

Common Loon – Loons use Taunton Bay as a staging area in April, pairing, courting and feeding before taking off for open lakes where they will nest. Between fifteen and twenty loons can be seen together before they disperse. Loons are on the bay every season but not in such numbers as they are in April.

Clams – Mudflats are home to clams. Local clam diggers rely on these flats for a seasonal living. Non-polluted flats are essential—to clams and diggers alike.

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