Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Cohabitating with nature part of rural life

By Kendra Raymond

Life in Raymond presents a cornucopia of opportunities to connect one-on-one with nature. Despite the proximity to a large city like Portland, the Lakes Region remains an oasis for wildlife and those who appreciate it.

Living in a rural area leads to many
encounters with wildlife such as this deer,
which was a backyard visitor recently
at a home in Raymond.
It can be exciting to observe Maine’s creatures up close, however respect and safety must be paramount. Many Mainers have a general knowledge of native flora and fauna by default, either by shared family knowledge or osmosis.

Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s bulletin, “Living with Wildlife” provides these reminders: watch wildlife from a distance, keep garbage receptacles sealed, repair entry points on buildings and practice responsible pet ownership.

IFW recommends “conflict resolution” during encounters with wildlife on your property. While it is certainly fine to observe wild animals, experts encourage them to move on to another area.

Many homeowners are nervous about bears visiting their yard and Amber Roth, an Assistant Professor at the University of Maine, has spent time as a nuisance wildlife specialist.

“I have never had a bad bear encounter,” Roth said. “If you have a bear in your yard, just enjoy it.”

During the winter bears are in hibernation, but once the weather warms up, they can move toward populated areas, which can be a problem. She says they are “just doing their thing” and should not be feared. Roth recommends eliminating things that attract bears into your yard such as trash, bird feeders, pet food and compost.

If you do come across a bear, Roth says they are generally wary of people. If you knock on a window or yell, the bear should run away quickly. A mother bear with cubs may act a bit differently. In this case, it is important to remove yourself from the situation and stay away from the cubs.

“If you care, leave them there” is a campaign developed by wildlife professionals to educate the public about human interventions with wild animals.

Maine IFW has a pamphlet available that outlines various wildlife scenarios and how to proceed. It emphasizes the message; “In nearly all cases, young wild animals do not need to be saved. It may be difficult to do but resisting the urge to ‘help’ is the real act of kindness.”

Members of a Raymond community social media group report noticing foxes, deer, coyote, bobcat, fisher, moose, owl, turkeys, and porcupines on their property. Only a single report of a bear cub in a tree was mentioned. Most said the animals were just passing through and acted appropriately around humans.

One member observed an opossum near the road on Route 302 several times over the summer. The Virginia opossum is the only marsupial in north America.

Roth says the opossums are moving northward, and their range depends on the severity of Maine winters. They are susceptible to frostbite due to their “naked” ears and tail.

Possums are omnivores and tend to take shelter under porches. They are harmless critters and are helpful in the yard eating ticks and other insects. If you encounter an opossum, it may hiss and play dead; this is alright.

According to Roth, “There is not much to worry about with an opossum.”

If you notice an animal acting abnormally, it is always best to contact your local game warden or animal control officer. These trained professionals have the skills to assess and deal with the problem.

Here’s a relevant poem:

The Peace of Wild Things

By Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Read more from Maine IFW at

Learn more about ‘If you care, leave them there’ at

A great opossum fact sheet can be found at <

Raymond’s origins date to 1690 raid on Quebec

By Ernest H. Knight

Raymondtown, one of the dozen local “Canada Towns” has its origin in the 1690 Expedition to Canada under the leadership of Sir William Phips, a poor boy of Harpswell who rose to the heights of power, to free coastal towns from the ravages of bands of French and Indian raiders originating at their stronghold at Quebec.

Captain William Raymond led a contingent of
60 militia members from Massachusetts for a
raid on Quebec in 1690. His heirs later
received a land grant for their service that 
became the Town of Raymond, named 
after the captain. COURTESY PHOTO 
The men making up the expedition were raised in the many settled towns in eastern Massachusetts under the local leaders to serve without pay for the safety and welfare of all. In those days a company of militia, the basic security organization of the day, consisted of 60 men and while nominally a town matter, one or more adjacent towns could supply the men as necessitated by population and circumstances,

Among those leading militia contingents for Phips was Captain William Raymond of Beverly, Massachusetts. He arrived in New England about 1652 and had served in the colonial militia in 1675 and 1676 during war against the hostile Narragansetts Tribe. In 1690, Raymond commanded 60 men from Beverly and Salem, Massachusetts in the Quebec venture.

Over 2,000 men departed Boston Harbor in a fleet of small vessels in the summer of 1690, but it was late fall before they arrived at Quebec via the St. Lawrence River, a poor time in view of their primitive equipment and approaching winter. The citadel was attacked, and they enjoyed brief success in breaching the outer defenses but were soon devastated by an illness epidemic in the personnel in ships frozen in the ice.

Abandoning the campaign, they started for home but many of the ships were wrecked in storms in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Atlantic Ocean with great loss of lives. About half the men survived to reach home and the raids from Quebec continued unabated.

Though the colonial government was insensitive to the safety of the settlements, expansion continued through the French and Indian Wars under difficult and deadly conditions. In the 1730s, a solution appeared for the colonial government, short of cash but abundantly endowed with wilderness land, to make grants of townships to any groups to whom they were indebted.

There were, besides the “Canada” veterans, others who had served in the Narragansett War, Monadnock conflicts and other actions that qualified for grants as Defense Towns which spread outward in a 50- to 100-mile radius from Boston to act as buffers to the encroachment of the raiders from Quebec via the Connecticut River or Lake Champlain and over cross-country trails to their vulnerable destinations.

Captain Raymond’s company of volunteers, reduced to a few living survivors but under the leadership of younger heirs, was an early claimant of a township based on the 1690 effort although equally entitled to a grant based on the conflict of 1675 and was granted permission to select a site as Canada #1 or Beverly-Canada.

A location was found on the Piscataquog River, now in the town of Weare, New Hampshire, in 1735 and roads, bridges and buildings started but soon aborted when a boundary dispute discovered that Massachusetts had given away land belonging to revived New Hampshire claims. Many of settlements were also negated, and these pioneers had to return home and bide their time for a better opportunity, which did not come until 1765.

In 1766, a second grant, in lieu of that lost in 1741, was obtained in other lands governed by Massachusetts along with many others of those evicted 25 years earlier. After looking at and rejecting a site of the Royall River above North Yarmouth, the choice was made to located in what is present-day Raymond, Casco and part of Naples, and it was the largest township in Maine at the time due to deducting the large percentage of the area in lakes and ponds as being useless for farming cultivation. <

This article was written by the late Ernest H. Knight, one of the founders of the Raymond-Casco Historical Society and contained in his book “Historical Gems of Raymond and Casco.” It was submitted by the Raymond-Casco Historical Society and articles about Raymond history from the historical society will appear regularly in The Windham Eagle newspaper. To find out more about the Raymond-Casco Historical Society, call Frank McDermott at 207-310-0340.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Autumn months perfect for hiking in Lakes Region

By Abby Wilson

Autumn is a special time to get out on the trails in Maine, especially in the Sebago Lake Area.

As the threat of mosquitos, ticks, and heat subsides, beautiful fall colors appear in all their glory. New England tourism sees an uptick in October and November as many enjoy the festivals and fairs, as well as long drives down back roads and strolls through the woods.

Fall is a perfect opportunity to get outdoors and explore many
exceptional trails and scenic vistas throughout the Lakes
Region of Maine, such as the trails at Lowell Preserve 
Windham and Raymond boast some prestigious hiking trails that allow walkers to enjoy local bodies of water, geological forms, and scenic vistas.

Even if there is no destination, simply walking among the colors of fall in the Lakes Region is enjoyable.

In Windham, the Lowell Preserve features a vast trail network. Some of the wide paths are multi-purpose, which means that you can hike or bike, and in the winter, cross country ski and snowshoe. Horseback riding is also allowed.

There are also trails open to all terrain vehicles (ATVs) such as four-wheelers and snowmobiles. All year long this property is used by the public.

In 1999, the town of Windham purchased Lowell Preserve, a 308-acre parcel, in hopes of providing a recreational area for the community.

It is maintained by the town of Windham and the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust. Multi-use paths are only the beginning of what this property can offer. Technical trails spur off the main trails, and are available for mountain bikers, trail runners, and long-distance hikers.

If you’re putting on some miles at Lowell Preserve, which is easy to do with its 8 miles of trails, be prepared.

Michael Tassotto, an avid hiker, says that “energy-boosting snacks like trail mix, energy bars, and fresh fruit will keep you fueled during your hike… Staying hydrated is crucial.”

When hiking technical trails, first aid kits, navigation tools, and sun protection are also recommended.

Tassotto says “sturdy and comfortable hiking boots are essential to tackle uneven terrain and provide ankle support. Make sure they are waterproof for any wet conditions… Fall weather can be unpredictable.”

You may also consider bringing rain gear in case the weather turns suddenly.

Avid hiker, Abbie Dufrene, says “Frogg Toggs is a super lightweight and effective rain gear for a ‘just in case’ kind of thing”.

While exploring Lowell Preserve, be sure to enjoy the streams and woodlands which are the significant property features.

In the Raymond Community Forest, hikers find it to be a popular place to visit. This 365-acre property is owned and maintained by the Loon Echo Land Trust.

The Pismire Bluff Trail takes you to a scenic overlook after only a one-mile trek. Lots of switchbacks make this an easier walk and one can see people of all ages and experiences walking up the mountain.

“Raymond Community Forest offers a unique view of Mount Washington and Rattlesnake Mountain, but also includes Panther, Sebago and Little Sebago as well as a nearly complete view of Crescent Lake,” said Jerri Wingard, a frequent visitor of this trail and resident of Raymond. “The open space at the top is the highlight of this hike. It's a great place to show visitors a panoramic view of the surrounding area.”

The maple ash community at Raymond Community Forest is particularly beautiful in the fall. One will notice the golden leaves in the canopy above.

“It is one of my very favorite places” says Jon Evans, Stewardship Manager for Loon Echo Land Trust.

You can visit this spectacular piece of conservation land on Conesca Road in Raymond all year around to hike, bike, snowshoe and ski.

Only 6 miles south from the community forest lies the Morgan Meadows Wildlife Management Area on Egypt Road in Raymond.

While there is no scenic vista or summit featured on this property, it is unique in its own way.

Measuring over 1,000 acres, it provides vital wildlife habitat which is vastly unbroken and connected to food and water resources. Species such as black birch, Louisiana water thrushes, waterfowl, and more can be seen throughout the wetland areas.

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife manages the small network of trails at Morgan Meadows which is just over 2 miles total. One of these paths leads visitors to a fascinating geological feature. The trail goes along a wall of rock which has a stunning red and orange hue and outstanding striations.

Windham and Raymond have many trails for all hikers to explore this fall, some of which are not mentioned in this story including Black Brook Preserve, Bri-Mar on Rattlesnake Mountain, and the Sebago to Sea Trail.

To access information about the trails in your back yard and throughout the Maine, visit<

Friday, November 10, 2023

Is bird feeding for the birds?

By Kendra Raymond

It’s that time of year when our thoughts turn toward preparing for winter weather; battening down the hatches and hunkering down to ride it out. For those of us who do not partake in outdoor winter activities, wildlife feeding may provide a welcome outlet to the winter doldrums.

A chipmunk snacks on a peanut at a home
in Raymond earlier this week. Feeding
wildlife can be a worthy pursuit for
some residents during Maine's long
winter months.
Maine Audubon is a great resource for home nature enthusiasts, offering a vast array of interactive educational opportunities throughout the state.

David Lamon of Field’s Pond Audubon Center in Holden recommends bird feeding.

“It’s a great hobby, and a way to check in with your environment so you can keep track of what’s going on in nature seasonally,” he said. “It brings (the birds) closer to you to enjoy, so it’s an educational piece as well.”

Lamon debunked a common myth that birds need feeding by saying that they are adapted to survival in our area without supplemental help.

The equipment

A tray feeder will satisfy ground feeding species such as juncos and doves. You can provide a variety of seeds, dried fruits, and nuts.

For seed eaters such as nuthatch, the hopper feeder is convenient. This is usually a good-sized unit that holds a large quantity of seeds. It may be wise to purchase a squirrel baffle which will keep them on the ground where there are plenty of leftovers.

And in speaking of squirrels, Lamon says, “You just have to live with them. They will feed for a while, and then they’re off doing their own thing before you know it.”

A tube feeder is a great choice for smaller species like goldfinch. It is customized to accommodate our tiniest friends with short perches and metal ports.

My home in Raymond is situated on an old farm property. I am fortunate to be blessed with a plethora of heritage stone walls throughout the yard. This provides a great natural feeding spot for birds, chipmunks, and other wildlife. It’s a busy and pleasant spot throughout the day. Someone once told me that birds eat when we do; and I have observed this to be true.

The menu

Depending on your target audience, you can curate a seed selection to attract specific customers. My favorite seed mix is Blue Seal’s Concerto mix. This mixture offers sunflowers for chipmunks and chickadees, safflower for cardinals, and millet for ground feeders like sparrows. I also have good luck with black oil or shelled sunflower.

Suet is a great source of fat and protein for birds and is inexpensive to purchase. A friend of mine makes their own suet from bacon grease, peanut butter, corn meal, craisins and nuts.

A peanut butter feeder can be made by drilling 1.5-inch holes in a log and attaching a hanger. This is an irresistible treat for woodpeckers as it gives them quick energy in cold temperatures.


Assuming you can develop a solid clientele, your feeder will need to be filled regularly. Many people choose to remove their feeders in the spring. Bears often damage or ruin feeders left out after they emerge from the winter.

It is necessary to periodically clean your bird feeders to prevent the spread of disease as often as every two weeks, according to Project FeederWatch. Simply empty your feeder and wash with hot water and dish soap solution it to air dry completely.

The National Wildlife Health Center recommends cleaning bird baths and feeders with a solution of nine parts water to one part bleach.


Keep your feeders suspended and provide visibility so the birds can see any lurking cats. The University of Maine Cooperative Extension tells us that cats are extremely efficient hunters and can devastate local bird populations.

It is important to place your feeders in a location where birds feel safe. Proximity to a tree or shrub is ideal.

Peterson Field Guide to Eastern Birds is a great reference for bird identification. If you find this particularly interesting, you may want to consider joining an Audubon Christmas Bird Count. Local locations include Biddeford Pool, Falmouth, Freeport, and Scarborough and are free to the public.

To learn more about birding visit:

For more information on home bird feeding: <

Friday, November 3, 2023

Raymond’s early waterway alterations continue to affect town’s history

By Ernest H. Knight

Virgin lands, as molded by nature, have depressions that fill with water to depths depending on the retainability of the soil and the contours of what become outlet streams.

The Jordan River and Panther Run waterways below the
Mill Street dam in Raymond are shown in a 1906 postcard
by G.W. Morris of Portland. COURTESY PHOTO 
These outlets were the focus of the pioneers to provide waterpower for their sawmills, grist mills and other activities on which depended the success of their new communities. Flowing watershed runoff could be harnessed by a dam and millwheel to raise the level and impound more stored water which lead to cherished water rights. 

Thus Joseph Dingley, the first settler of part of Raymondtown, picked the outlet of Thomas Pond and Dominicus Jordan selected the Jordan River outlet to Sebago Lake near present Route 302, for their home sites with mill purposes in mind.

The proprietors of Raymondtown had already spotted and reserved the best site of all, the outlet of Panther Pond at present Mill Street, for their control. So, most bodies of water in the town after the raising of dams are higher now than in their primeval state though some, through neglect of their dams, reverted to their original or lower levels.

To start with the “hayth” at the foot, actually the headwaters of Thompson Pond in Casco, was farmland with dwellings and a road through it and extends into the adjacent Hog Meadow which were flooded by raising a dam at Craigie’s Mills, Oxford Village, on the outlet of the Little Androscoggin. Pleasant Lake, once Greater Parker Pond, was separated from Parkier Pond by a stream through farmland once traversed by a road now abandoned to a swamp.

Little Rattlesnake (Raymond Pond), Great Rattlesnake (Crescent Lake) and Painter (Panther) Ponds would all have been smaller in area and with more large islands, some of which are now underwater shoals that are hazardous to boats. Tenney and Jordan Rivers would have been mere trickles except during the spring runoff conditions. Nubble Pond supported a busy sawmill by its dam before which it was little more than a swamp to which it is gradually returning by natural process. And the dumpling ponds, now Coffee and Dumpling, were probably of little importance without their dams as they had very limited watershed area to draw from.

The natural level of Sebago Pond, now Sebago Lake, would have been determined by the natural falls of the Presumpscot River, and was raised by a dam at the falls and a long dike in the 1820s to provide water for the Cumberland & Oxford Canal then being dug and again in the 1880s to provide for more water for mills on the Presumpscot River.

This had a great effect on the shores of Raymond and Casco, which originally extended to Brandy Pond and Songo River, to make passage of canal boats possible and destroyed the Chute River which had been the shortest river in the world (a companion to the Songo as the most winding). Even though with the first level increase it was necessary to dig a ditch from the Songo a half mile into the lake, with sheathing spiked to piles which can still be seen submerged by the later level raising.

Some of the Dingley Islands became the rocky shoals that are now boat hazards. Standish Cape, now Raymond Cape, being surrounded by deep water has not changed much except at Camp Cove which is now swampy, but which once was a busy picnic and religious camp meeting area accessible mainly by boats.

Isaac Whitney’s land on Deep Cove Shores Road had a hill on it which became Whitney Island on which was built The Venice, a girls’ summer school in the late 1800s. The shoreland past Raymond Village to the Jordan River was a dense pine forest but now reduced to a flourishing growth of cattails. The Jordan River became lined with wharves for canal and later steamboats, though under very low water periods these boats had to move to a wharf at the end of Wharf Road from Raymond Village.

At the time of the last level raising of Sebago in the 1880s, property values of the shorelands were valuable enough that flowage rights had to be acquired and compensation paid, but there are some properties that were not so settled and in case of damage by high waters, their owners received payment from the Presumpscot mill and power water rights holders, mainly S.D. Warren Company.

Anyone looking at the shores of our scenic waters might visualize Indian canoes landing at seemingly logical spots, but in most cases their actual landings were offshore in deeper water. Fortunately, our waters are still beautiful though vulnerable to today’s environmental dangers, but there will probably be no more changes caused by dams, mills, or shore alterations. <

This article was written by the late Ernest H. Knight, one of the founders of the Raymond-Casco Historical Society and contained in his book “Historical Gems of Raymond and Casco.” It was submitted by the Raymond-Casco Historical Society and articles about Raymond history from the historical society will appear regularly in The Windham Eagle newspaper. To find out more about the Raymond-Casco Historical Society, call Frank McDermott at 207-655-4646.