What To Do This Weekend: June 24-25

Pick strawberries, look diamondback terrapins, enjoy a sunset paddle, hike to a summit, and more with a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

Diamondback terrapin © Patrick Randall

Greater Boston

Head to Strawberry Day at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln. Dig in the dirt with our farm staff, meet some berry-loving animals, and, if weather permits, pick your own strawberries to take home (while supplies last; additional fee applies).

Go Beachcombing on Carson Beach with Boston Nature Center. Carson Beach and its neighbors stretch for over 3 miles and offer great beachcombing opportunities at every turn. (families, registration required)

Take an Evening Canoe on the Charles with Broadmoor in Natick. Watch as the sun sets over the river and listen for the evening sounds of birds, frogs, and other creatures. (adults, registration required)

Go on an intergenerational morning Bird Walk at Habitat in Belmont. Birders and non-birders of all ages and skill level welcome! (all ages)

More in Greater Boston

North Shore

Enjoy Saturday Morning Birding with Joppa Flats. Join beginners and birders of all levels to search out avian activity in the Newburyport/Plum Island area. (adults)

More on the North Shore

South of Boston

Head to Allens Pond in South Dartmouth for Yoga at Stone Barn with nothing but the sounds of birds and nature serving as the backdrop to your practice. (adults)

More South of Boston

Cape Cod and Islands

Oystercatchers, plovers and terns, oh my! During Tracking Shorebirds at Felix Neck on Martha’s Vineyard walk the beach with a shorebird biologist to record field data, search for birds and nests, and identify bird and mammal tracks in the sand.

Join Long Pasture for Barnstable Harbor Kayak and Climb Sandy Neck Lighthouse and kayak Cape Cod’s largest barrier beach and salt marsh system. Then go ashore to climb the Sandy Neck barrier beach lighthouse and see the beautiful view. (Ages 12+, registration required)

Go on a Turtle Prowl at Wellfleet Bay and look for diamondback terrapins, a threatened species of salt marsh turtle while walking along sanctuary trails in search of nesting turtles. (adults and children ages 6+, registration required)

More on the Cape and Islands

Central Massachusetts

Go on a guided Family Canoe Paddle at Wachusett Meadow in Princeton and look for wood ducks, bullfrogs, and kingfishers. (families, registration required)

Enjoy an All Trail Interpretive Hike at Rocky Hill in Groton. Besides visiting varied habitats, highlights will include amphibian breeding pools, a heron rookery, and a chestnut oak grove. (adults, registration required)

More in Central Massachusetts

Connecticut River Valley

Participate in a Water Chestnut Removal by Canoe with Arcadia. Water chestnut crowds out native plants and the wildlife that depend on them. It also obstructs boating and other recreational activities. (adults, registration required)

Come to Laughing Brook in Hampden, former home of the acclaimed children’s author and naturalist Thornton Burgess, for a Story Hour and Walk. Burgess’s characters are those that can be found living at Laughing Brook.  (all, registration required)

More in the Connecticut River Valley

Berkshires

Go on a Berkshire Summit Hike to Race Brook Falls and along the Taconic ridgeline to the summit of Mount Race via the Appalachian Trail with Pleasant Valley. The 6.6-mile round trip hike is rated difficult, with steep sections. The effort is worth the reward, however, since the views from the ridgeline and summit are spectacular. (adults, registration required)

More in the Berkshires

Taking Photos?

Be sure to enter the 2017 Photo Contest!

Protecting Pollinators

Mass Audubon has made it a priority to protect and promote pollinators’ health.

A rapid decline in pollinators like beesbirdsbutterflies, and bats is threatening biodiversity both globally and here at home.  The thousands of plant-pollinator interactions that sustain our food supply and natural environment are under threat by multiple, interacting factors including habitat loss, pesticide use, invasive species, disease, and climate change.

This is why our Advocacy department identified An Act to Protect Pollinators as a legislative priority. This Act, sponsored by Representative Mary Keefe (D-Worcester) and Senator Jason Lewis (D-Winchester), establishes a commission to investigate methods and solutions to protect and promote pollinators’ health. The bill would require the commission to include individuals with expertise in the protection of pollinators, wildlife protection and expertise in native plants.

In addition, Mass Audubon provided extensive input that helped shape the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources’ (MDAR) recently released Pollinator Protection Plan, which includes Best Management Practices for groups from beekeepers to farmers to homeowners and gardeners, all of whom can take steps to minimize impacts to pollinators and encourage their populations to thrive.

MDAR is also updating its Apiary Program, which provides supports to honey beekeepers, pesticide applicators, farmers, land managers, educators, regulators and government officials.

Most recently, Mass Audubon’s President Gary Clayton (pictured) was on hand to celebrate the opening of the second state apiary at Essex Technical High School, a collection of beehives, which will be used for education and academic research. This state-funded new apiary will consist of six honey bee hives located within a 30 foot by 100 foot plot on the campus of Essex Technical High School.

Learn more about the MDAR Apiary Program and what you can do to protect pollinators.

Tanglewood Takes Flight

Common Yelllowthroat

Composers and musicians have been inspired by bird melodies for centuries. So it seems perfectly harmonious that Mass Audubon and the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) will partner this summer to present a celebration of music, birds, and nature in the Berkshires.

Tanglewood Takes Flight: A Celebration of Birds and Music with Mass Audubon will take place at Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Lenox and at the BSO’s summer home in Stockbridge over four days, Thursday, July 27–Sunday, July 30. Attendees will immerse themselves in activities including guided bird walks, lectures, recitals by brilliant musicians, and an art exhibit.

Highlights include concerts honoring the music of Olivier Messiaen, including selections from his landmark Catalogue of the Birds, and joint presentations by Mass Audubon ornithologist Wayne Petersen and pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard.

All events at Pleasant Valley will be free and open to the public, though registration is required. Mass Audubon members receive a discount on Tanglewood events, but capacity is limited, so reserve your tickets soon.

In Your Words: Vasha Brunelle

In Your Words is a regular feature of Mass Audubon’s Explore member newsletter. Each issue, a Mass Audubon member, volunteer, staff member, or supporter shares his or her story—why Mass Audubon and protecting the nature of Massachusetts matters to them.


Vasha Brunelle © Frank Brunelle

Vasha Brunelle © Frank Brunelle

Growing up in Connecticut, most of my free time was spent outdoors, usually in the woods or swamps. As an adult living on Martha’s Vineyard, I returned to the woods for long walks and started painting local birds.

About 12 years ago, a friend suggested I get involved at Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary. Since then, I have monitored horseshoe crabs for their citizen science project, painted several signs and murals, and served as the secretary for the Felix Neck sanctuary committee. But, perhaps, the most exciting and challenging opportunity came when I began volunteering with the sanctuary’s Coastal Waterbird Program in the spring of 2013, monitoring a pair of American oystercatchers nesting in my neighborhood.

Being new to nest monitoring, I needed help. The coastal waterbird coordinator at Felix Neck patiently showed me how and when to observe the birds, and what information to record. I was delighted the first time I saw a clutch of eggs in an oystercatcher scrape (a sandy, shallow nest dug by oystercatchers), horrified when a nest was lost to storm surge washover during a nor’easter, and ecstatic to see for the first time a chick emerging from the grasses.

American Oystercatcher © Phil Sorrentino

American Oystercatcher © Phil Sorrentino

Since those first couple of years, I’ve learned so much more about the threats to these birds, particularly predators, weather, and disturbances from beachgoers and dogs. But the birds’ admirable resolve to breed and reproduce despite these challenges has inspired me. I’ve become adept at speaking to people I meet while out observing—answering questions or gently reminding them to be cautious in a restricted area.

It’s gratifying to observe and record data, knowing that all of this information serves an important purpose: to help us understand population trends and factors for reproductive success so we can adjust our strategies to provide the birds the best chance of survival. This summer, I will be monitoring a second oystercatcher nest, a tern colony, and a pair of osprey. If you see me out and about, stop and say hi!


Vasha Brunelle is a longtime volunteer with Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary’s Coastal Waterbird program, which you can learn more about on their webpage.

Take 5: National Eagle Day

June 20 is National Eagle Day: a day to celebrate our national bird and national animal, the bald eagle—a true conservation success story.

Between 1906 and 1989, no bald eagles bred in Massachusetts. Their decline was largely due to hunting and a pesticide called DDT that caused their egg shells to become thin and break. New laws were passed to protect eagles and DDT was banned in 1972.

Reintroduction programs like the one co-led by Mass Audubon and the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife successfully reestablished breeding populations. Now, the federal government has changed them from “endangered” to “threatened” status, and they fly free across the state.

Here are five photographs of the majestic bald eagle that were submitted to our annual photo contest. The 2017 Picture This: Your Great Outdoors Photo Contest is now open so submit your beautiful nature photography today!

Learn more about these amazing raptors with our Bald Eagle Quick Guide and in the Nature & Wildlife section of our website.

Bald Eagle © Joseph Cavanaugh

Bald Eagle © Joseph Cavanaugh

Bald Eagle in Flight © Ronald Grant

Bald Eagle in Flight © Ronald Grant

Bald Eagle © Sue Purdy

Bald Eagle © Sue Purdy

Bald Eagle in Flight © Ramkumar Subramanian

Bald Eagle in Flight © Ramkumar Subramanian

Bald Eagles © Nancy Hebert

Bald Eagles © Nancy Hebert

Thank You for Speaking Up

Earlier this spring we put out a call for people to Speak Up for Nature by writing messages to Massachusetts’ members of Congress and the U.S. Senate in Washington D.C. The response was fantastic and the notes and drawings were hand-delivered by Mass Audubon’s President in May. See a few of the messages below.

Looking to take more action? You can still get post cards at many of our wildlife sanctuaries or download them online and send to your Congressperson. And be sure to subscribe to our Advocacy blog, Political Landscapes, where every Monday they will publish Action You Can Take This Week.

There’s Still Time to Save Tidmarsh

A meandering cold water stream, dappled sunlight in a red maple forest, a bald eagle soaring overhead—these are just some of the things that you might see at Tidmarsh Farms in Plymouth. Today, we are working to purchase this property and establish it as Mass Audubon’s newest wildlife sanctuary by early 2018.

Tidmarsh was a working cranberry farm until 2010. When the landowners decided to stop farming, they made a bold decision to restore the land and return it to its natural state. Removing the dams created a spectacular mosaic of habitats, and all the changes are being monitored through their new nonprofit, Living Observatory.

Mass Audubon now has the special opportunity to acquire 479 acres of the property, and to partner with the Town of Plymouth to protect an additional 139 acres.

To do this, and create Tidmarsh Wildlife Sanctuary in Plymouth, we must raise $3.6 million by June 30, 2017. We need your help to raise the final $125,000 in the next week. And thanks to a matching challenge grant from an anonymous foundation, your gift will be doubled!

You can have an impact on the future of this landscape—you can make a difference. Please consider making a gift to the Campaign for Tidmarsh Wildlife Sanctuary today and be a part of protecting this incredible landscape!

 

What To Do This Weekend: June 17-18

Celebrate Father’s Day weekend with hikes, canoe and kayak trips, a scavenger hunt, bird walks, a drawing class, cruise, and more.

Spicebush swallowtail

Berkshires

Go Birding in the Berks and explore the boreal and mixed forest along Jones Nose ridge near the summit of Mt. Greylock while looking for blackpoll warbler and Swainson’s thrush. This is a strenuous hike over steep terrain. (adults, registration required)

More in the Berkshires

Connecticut River Valley

Celebrate the coming of summer and Father’s Day with a leisurely Canoe Trip at Arcadia in Easthampton and Northampton. Watch for wildlife and learning how to identify wetland plants such as pickerel weed, buttonbush, and royal fern. (all, registration required)

Learn about the Insects of the Field and Forest at Laughing Brook in Hampden. Watch as a bee pollinates a flower, see how many different types of butterflies you can count, and learn what lives within all that white spittle on the field plants. (families, registration required)

More in the Connecticut River Valley

Central Massachusetts

Go on a Father’s Day Hike at Wachusett Meadow in Princeton and trek to the summit of Brown Hill. Each Dad will receive a laminated guide of his choice from Mass Audubon’s series. (all, registration required)

Learn how to recognize trees during Plants Everyone Should Know at Broad Meadow Brook in Worcester. (adults, registration required)

More in Central Massachusetts

North Shore

Go on a Hands-on Science Cruise with Dad to explore the lower Merrimack River ecosystem. Look for seabirds, seals, and waterfowl and learn about this vital part of the area’s natural history. (families, registration required)

Create a Fairy Garden at Ipswich River in Topsfield. We’ll provide the container, rocks, and native plants, you bring your imagination. After creating the gardens, listen to a solstice story and then take a short walk. (families, registration required)

More on the North Shore

Greater Boston

Celebrate Father’s Day with a Breakfast at Blue HIlls in Milton followed by a nature hike to the top of Great Blue Hill with a naturalist. We’ll search out animal tracks and sign, take a look at some of the cool rocks on the hillside, and enjoy the view at the top of Eliot Tower. (adults and children ages 3+, registration required)

Take a Naturalist Walk at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln to look for amphibians, reptiles, mammals, flowering plants, trees, shrubs, lichens, fungi, insects, and birds. (adults and children ages 12+)

Take a relaxing Father’s Day Canoe Trip on the Charles in Natick Watch the morning mist rising off the river. Keep an eye out for great blue herons and other birds gliding over the water. And enjoy a hearty brunch mid-trip. (adults, registration required)

Take part in a Midsummer Celebration at Boston Nature Center and learn about signs of the seasons, the Earth’s place in the universe, and how your garden knows what time of year it is.  We will explore the garden plots and food forest, as well make a take home craft. (families, registration required)

More in Greater Boston

South of Boston

Take a Guided Walk at Tidmarsh Farm to see first hand why we are trying to protect this incredible land and turn it into a Wildlife Sanctuary. (rsvp requested)

Walk around Stony Brook in Norfolk to find info about the Martins and Swallows that travel thousands of miles annually to nest in the sanctuary’s field. (adults, registration required)

Learn how to Draw Wildflowers at Oak Knoll in Attleboro with Abby Rovaldi, program coordinator from the Attleboro Arts Museum. (adults and children ages 5+, registration required)

Enjoy a free Beach Ramble along the Beach Loop trail at the Allens Pond in South Dartmouth/Westport. Explore many different habitats and their inhabitants as you meander through grassland meadow before walking by the salt pond onto a sandy beach. (adults and children ages 5+)

Go on an all-day Kayak Exploration of the North and South Rivers in Marshfield. Having the tides in our favor on both stretches will help as the distance of our paddle is approximately 20 nautical miles. (adults, registration required)

Bring Dad to Moose Hill in Sharon for Dad & Me—a self guided scavenger hunt. Enjoy the many sights and sounds as you follow each clue to the final prize package for your family. (all)

More South of Boston

Cape Cod

Help Wellfleet Bay with Box Turtle Tracking. First learn about the sanctuary’s monitoring and research practices then head out for an active excursion to track box turtles. (adults and children ages 12+, registration required)

Join Long Pasture for Barnstable Harbor Kayak and Climb Sandy Neck Lighthouse and kayak Cape Cod’s largest barrier beach and salt marsh system. Then go ashore to climb the Sandy Neck barrier beach lighthouse and see the beautiful view. (Ages 12+, registration required)

More on the Cape

Taking Photos?

Be sure to enter the 2017 Photo Contest!

Why Did the Turtle Cross the Road?

To get to the other side…to lay her eggs!

Turtle Crossing sign at Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary

Turtle Crossing sign at Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary

In late spring and early summer, adult female turtles cross roads in search of nest sites. Each species has a different habitat requirement, but when searching for a nest site they usually choose sandy or loose soil in lawns, tilled or mowed fields, roadsides, and occasionally backyard compost piles.

Many people assume that something is wrong when a turtle is crossing the road. People, with best intentions, mistakenly attempt to return it to water, take it home, or, take it somewhere that seems safer and release it. But the best thing to do is leave it alone. The turtle knows where it wants to go and may have been nesting in the same spot for many years—or even decades.

Small Turtles

If you spot a small turtle that is in danger of being hit by cars, you can protect it by temporarily blocking traffic if it is safe to do so. You can also speed things along by carefully picking it up by its carapace (the top half of its shell) and moving it to the other side of the road, in the direction it was already headed.

Snapping Turtles

Snapping turtles, however, can be dangerous and should not be handled. They are surprisingly fast for their size and can extend their necks the length of their carapace. Never pick up a snapping turtle by the tail because you could seriously injure it.

Snapping Turtle at Drumlin Farm © Mass Audubon

Snapping Turtle at Drumlin Farm © Mass Audubon

Learn all about turtles on our website and check out our Turtles By the Numbers.

Enter the 2017 Photo Contest

Mass Audubon’s 2017 Photo Contest has officially begun!

2016 Grand Prize Winner: Harbor Seal Pup © Alex Shure

An underwater harbor seal pup.

A pileated woodpecker coming in for a landing.

Three boys diving into the water.

The sun setting over a marsh.

These are just a few of the photos that entranced the judges last year—and they can’t wait to see want you have in store for this year’s contest.

If you have photographs taken in Massachusetts (or at Mass Audubon’s Wildwood camp in New Hampshire) that show off everything from wildlife to scenic landscapes to people enjoying the wonders of nature, we want to see them!

The contest runs through September 30, 2017.

Every month we’ll highlight some of the entries on our Facebook page. Until then, happy snapping!Enter the contest

P.S. Please note the contest submission guidelines have changed. Find out more >