Author Archives: Hillary T.

About Hillary T.

Where: Mass Audubon Headquarters, Lincoln Who: Massachusetts transplant by way of Florida and New York. Raising two young girls, who she hopes will be budding naturalists Favorite part of the job: Learning something new every day from some of the smartest and most enthusiastic groups of people

A Good Year for Monarchs?

During the last week of August, Regional Scientist Robert Buchsbaum and several Mass Audubon naturalists and scientists took a field trip to Conway Hills Wildlife Sanctuary just west of the Connecticut River in Conway, MA. While there, they were pleasantly surprised by what they saw. Here’s Robert’s report:

The initial goal of our exploration was to document the odonates (dragonflies and damselflies) that are present at this sanctuary. Conway Hills is a relatively new sanctuary for Mass Audubon so our records of species that occur there is still a work in progress.

While rambling through a big field in the center of the sanctuary, we couldn’t help but notice the large number of monarch butterfly caterpillars that were feasting on the milkweed plants in the field. Just about every one of the milkweed plants (the common milkweed—Asclepias syriaca) had a monarch caterpillar on it, busily chewing on leaves.

Monarch caterpillar at Conway Hills

This was very heartening to all of us, given how scarce monarch butterflies were last summer and the overall concern about the future of this stunning butterfly.

Have you noticed more monarchs this year?

Let us know in the comments!

Pick an August Facebook Favorite

Each month, as part of our Photo Contest, we select 5 images from the previous month’s entries for you to pick as your favorite on Facebook. All you need to do is click an image and “like” it. Not on Facebook? Tell us your favorite in the comments below.

Have a great shot of your own? The deadline to enter is September 30. Details >

© Dennis Durette

© Rachel Bellenoit

© Julie Blue

© Melena Ward

© Don Bullens

A Great, Great Nature Hero Story

Back in the late 1800s Harriet Hemenway, along with her cousin Minna Hall, made a bold decision. After learning about the cruel way birds were killed to get their feathers for fashionable hats, she decided to save the birds. To do so, Hemenway and Hall founded Mass Audubon, the first Audubon Society, and sparked the modern-day environmental movement.

Harriet Hemenway

Hemenway is Mass Audubon’s original nature hero, so you can imagine our delight to learn that her great, great granddaughter Lila recently spent a week at Wachusett Meadow’s Nature Day Camp! As a preschooler, we hope Lila follows in Harriet’s footsteps and becomes a future nature hero!

Lila, Hemenway’s great, great granddaughter.

You can read more about Hemenway and Hall here. Have a Nature Hero story to share? Tell us about it in the comments!

Humpback whale c Sherri Vanden Akker

Take 5: Wonderful Whales

Ever year, from April through October, folks head out into the open seas for a chance to see a whale or two. And fortunately for us, many have their cameras in hand.

Check out 5 fantastic shots of humpback whales from past editions of our Picture This photo contest. The 2017 contest is now in its final month, so enter your wildlife and nature photographs today!

© Sherri Vanden Akker

© James Duffy

© Maureen Duffy

© Jennifer Childs

© Victoria Bettuelli

 

© Ann Marie Lally

Take 5: Tree Swallows

Aerodynamic and graceful, a tree swallow is most often seen in the sky as it gleans insects on the wing. It is about the size of a chickadee, and is an iridescent blue above and white below. Tree swallows are often seen in small flocks foraging over ponds or fields, chittering back and forth.

Here are five photos of tree swallows from past years’ photo contests. If you have a great shot of your own, we’d love to see it! Enter today at massaudubon.org/picturethis.

2013 Photo Contest Entry © Ann Marie Lally

2016 Photo Contest Entry © Myer Bornstein

2013 Photo Contest Entry © Lisa Gurney

2013 Photo Contest Entry © Michael Ross

2016 Photo Contest Entry © Michael Rossacci

What To Do This Weekend: Aug 12-13

Things to look forward to this weekend: a butterfly festival, canoe and kayak trips, a duck derby, nature walks, and more!

Butterfly Festival at Broad Meadow Brook

Cape Cod and Islands

Head to State Beach for Saturdays at Sengekontacket, a one-hour program run by a Felix Neck naturalist that explores the nature of Sengekontacket Pond on Martha’s Vineyard. (all ages)

Take an Early Morning Bird Walk at Wellfleet Bay. From pine woodlands and freshwater pond to salt marsh and beach, Goose Pond Trail’s diverse natural communities offer diverse bird sightings. (adults, registration required)

Go on a Shorebird Kayak Exploration in Barnstable to witness the beginning of the fall migration on one of the Cape’s most beautiful barrier beaches, Sandy Neck. (adults, registration required)

More on the Cape and Islands

South of Boston

The Allens Pond annual Duck Derby takes place on Saturday in South Dartmouth. After the duck race, head to the sanctuary for a festival complete with great food, music, and a silent auction. Can’t make it but still want to try and win dinner anywhere in the world? The deadline to purchase a duck online is Friday at 5 pm. (all ages)

Construct some simple homemade Bathyscopes, a viewfinder for underwater exploration, at Duxbury Beach. (all ages)

More South of Boston

Greater Boston

Join Drumlin Farm on a field trip to Plum Island in Newburyport to see Swallows and Shorebirds at Sunset. (adults and children ages 14+, registration required)

Go on a guided Nature Walk at Boston Nature Center to discover in the forests, meadows, and seasonal wetlands. Ask questions and learn about the biodiversity in an urban setting. (adults and children ages 4+, registration requested)

More in Greater Boston

North Shore

Paddle to Thacher and Milk Islands, off the coast of Rockport, to visit an active nesting colony of herring and great-black backed gulls, and observe the behavior of young birds, from nestlings to fledglings. Then we’ll walk the mowed paths of the island to the North Tower lighthouse and climb the stairs to the top. (adults, registration required)

Bring the family for an Ocean Web Cruise aboard the Yankee Clipper for an exciting exploration of the lower Merrimack River ecosystem. We’ll also look for seabirds, seals, and waterfowl. (families, registration required)

More on the North Shore

Central Massachusetts

Celebrate butterflies during the 10th Annual Barbara J. Walker Butterfly Festival at Broad Meadow Brook in Worcester. On tap: Caterpillar Lab, nature walks, face painting, music, plant sale, and more.

More in Central Massachusetts

Berkshires

Explore the coves and marshes of one of the Berkshires’ most beautiful lakes on a Naturalist Guided Canoe Trip. Paddle across Lower Goose Pond to pristine Upper Goose Pond in search of eagles, herons, ravens, and a variety of songbirds. Eat a snack onshore and search for interesting plant and animal life. (adults and children ages 10+, registration required)

More in the Berkshires

Pick a July Facebook Favorite

Each month, as part of our Photo Contest, we select 5 images from the previous month’s entries for you to pick as your favorite on Facebook. All you need to do is click an image and “like” it. Not on Facebook? Tell us your favorite in the comments below

© Amy Severino

© Amy Severino

© Alan Nelson

© John Martello

© John Martello

© Yingna Cai

© Yingna Cai

© Michael Rossacci

© Michael Rossacci

What To Do This Weekend: August 5-6

Look for dragonflies while paddling, run a 5k, try your hand at science experiments, practice yoga, and more with a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

Berkshires

During the Loon Moon Canoe Trip on Buckley Dunton Lake in October Mountain State Forest look for herons, loons, beavers, and owls at twilight. When the moon is high, we’ll raft up or go ashore to share snacks and beverages while we listen for nocturnal sounds of wildlife. (adults, registration required)

More in the Berkshires

Central Massachusetts

Connect with yourself as you connect with nature during Yoga at Wachusett Meadow in Princeton. This class is appropriate for all levels, from complete beginners to advanced, as several options/modifications will be given for each pose (asana). (adults, registration required)

More in Central Massachusetts

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

Greater Boston

Enjoy a leisurely Summer Morning Canoe on the Charles in Natick. Listen to bird songs and watch for great blue herons, turtles, and dragonflies as we paddle during the quiet morning hours. (adults, registration required)

Explore Spiders on the Pond at Blue Hills Trailside Museum. Take a closer look at webs and the spiders that create them as you explore around the edges of Trailside’s pond. (families, registration required)

We all know about solids, liquids, and gases, but what is oobleck? Find out during Boston Nature Center’s Science Experiments. (families, registration required)

More in Greater Boston

South of Boston

Get to know Bats at Moose Hill in Sharon. After the talk, we will head out on the trails in search of bats. (families with children ages 10+, registration required)

Participate in the Annual Ducky Dash 5k road race to benefit the Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary. Run, walk, or roll (strollers are allowed) along the most gorgeous scenic course that starts at the sanctuary and runs flat and fast to Gooseberry Island and back. (adults and children, registration required)

Search for Horseshoe Crabs on Duxbury Beach as part of North River’s free Family Fun on the Beach days.

More South of Boston

Cape Cod and Islands

Spend the day at Long Pasture in Barnstable Getting to Know Your Digital Camera Part 2. (adults, registration required)

Head to State Beach for Saturdays at Sengekontacket, a one-hour program run by a Felix Neck naturalist that explores the nature of Sengekontacket Pond on Martha’s Vineyard. (All ages)

Take an Early Morning Bird Walk at Wellfleet Bay. From pine woodlands and freshwater pond to salt marsh and beach, Goose Pond Trail’s diverse natural communities offer diverse bird sightings. (adults, registration required)

More on the Cape and Islands

What To Do This Weekend: July 29-30

Look for shorebirds, go on nature walks, fly a kite, listen to bird-inspired classical music, and more with a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

Sanderling © David Clapp

Cape Cod and Islands

Spend the day at Long Pasture in Barnstable Getting to Know Your Digital Camera. (adults, registration required)

Head to State Beach for Saturdays at Sengekontacket, a one-hour program run by a Felix Neck naturalist that explores the nature of Sengekontacket Pond on Martha’s Vineyard. (All ages)

Take an Early Morning Bird Walk at Wellfleet Bay. From pine woodlands and freshwater pond to salt marsh and beach, Goose Pond Trail’s diverse natural communities offer diverse bird sightings. (adults, registration required)

More on the Cape and Islands

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)

Go Beach Combing on Duxbury Beach, part of North River’s Family Fun Days series.

More South of Boston

Greater Boston

Fly a Kite at Boston Nature Center. Bring your own kite or make one here. (families, registration recommended)

Take a guided Evening Stroll at Boston Nature. Listen to the night insects and bird calls and watch for the first stars of the night. (adults, registration recommended)

More in Greater Boston

North Shore

Join Joppa Flats for Focus on Shorebirds to explore the Newburyport area looking for a range of shorebirds including black-bellied and semipalmated plovers, greater and lesser yellowlegs, semipalmated and least sandpipers, short-billed dowitchers, willets, Hudsonian godwits, and more. (adults, registration required)

Drop in to Joppa Flats before the beach, after the beach, or instead of the beach to Meet Beach Creatures in a 110-gallon tide pool touch tank. Volunteers interpret the amazing animals you may or may not have seen on your own beach visits and answer all the “why, what, how” questions you want to know.

More on the North Shore

Central Massachusetts

Learn to connect with the natural world in a healing, calming, grounding, and replenishing way through a Shinrin-Yoku Forest Breathing Guided Sanctuary Walk at Wachusett Meadow in Princeton. (adults, registration required)

More in Central Massachusetts

Connecticut River Valley

Enjoy the beauty of Arcadia in Easthampton and Northampton during a relaxed Seasonal Nature Walk. Bring a bag lunch for a picnic after the walk! (adults, registration required)

More in Connecticut River Valley

Berkshires

Go on a Naturalist Guided Canoe Trip in October Mountain State Forest. Explore the coves and inlets of this beautiful lake and we’ll go ashore to eat a snack, visit forest plant communities, and search for signs of animals such as porcupines and moose. (adults, registration required)

Tanglewood Music Center Fellows will play from Messian’s Catalogue of the Birds at Pleasant Valley in Lenox. This intimate (and free) concert experience, which celebrates music, birds, and the nature of the Berkshires, is part of Tanglewood Takes Flight. (adults, registration required).

More in the Berkshires

Young Explorers: Fireflies

Stacked Image of Firefly Trails © Jonathan McElvery

When it comes to cool insects, it’s hard to beat fireflies. Not only do they light up a dark summer night, but they also send secret messages, trick other fireflies, and can even be poisonous to some predators.

Get more details and find fun firefly activities in the most recent Young Explorers Activity Sheet and let us know if you have seen fireflies this summer in the comments.

Looking for more activity sheets? Find them here >