Bird Week at Summer Camp

The three day camp week before the July 4 holiday was all about birds. Curiosity Club and Naturalists, our youngest campers, made a “safari” through the field to look at bird nestboxes. The female Eastern bluebird sitting atop nestbox #22 with a juicy green caterpillar, waited until campers were a safe distance away to feed her five young. This is the second brood for this bluebird pair this year.

Nestbox 22, female bluebird with caterpillar

Voyagers, our oldest campers, visited Waseeka Wildllife Sanctuary in Hopkinton, where an osprey pair were feeding three chicks.

Osprey with three young

Campers and counselors had great views through the telescope

Voyagers at Waseeka

Here is the bird list for the week.

Trail Improvements Have Started

Based on his 57-page assessment of Broadmoor’s nine miles of trails, trail builder Peter Jensen launched a relocation around muddy, wet spots and eroded steep sections on the Indian Brook Trail. A small stretch of trail relocation was begun as a training session for team leaders who will work with volunteers in the future.

Peter began the training by explaining pruning techniques.

In the field, staff and volunteers began by raking leaves, removing shrubs and small saplings from the route of the new trail. Leaves were stockpiled at the base of the trail slope as erosion control and a few hours later were redistributed onto the finished trail surface.

A section of trail was too steep for proper drainage, so a bench cut created a more gentle slope.

Roots and organic material were rolled up like carpet and stockpiled to re-vegetate the abandoned trail section.

It’s all about water drainage and once the slope was right, the trail was tamped down and the stockpiled leaves scattered over the surface. The new trail will look like it’s always been there in a few weeks.

Extreme weather events including rain, snow and wind, beaver activity, and the tens of thousands of annual visitors make it a necessity to thoughtfully adapt and manage our trails for the future.

There is a lot of work to be done to make the trails sustainable. While volunteers will do much of the work, materials and supplies and contracted work will cost money. The budget for improving all our trails is $420,000, which includes endowment for future maintenance. We have raised $331,000 and hope to raise the additional $89,000 by year end. To support this project, please go to our Trail Project website or come by the sanctuary to learn more.

National Trails Day Launch at Broadmoor

Last Saturday, Broadmoor launched a project to renovate, relocate and improve all nine miles of trails at the sanctuary. Events throughout the day introduced different audiences to some of the changes planned and ways to explore nature.

The All Persons Trail celebrated its 20th anniversary with demonstrations of the Freedom Chair, available to borrow at the nature center

In 1999 the first accessible trail and boardwalk was completed. In 2013 a section with an outlook over the field was added. In the first phase of the current project, the accessible trail will be extended to the main bridge.

The Freedom Chair was given by a generous donor to use on the accessible trail. It’s light light weight and designed for trails. Come and test it out!

The Children’s Nature Play area, called by one youngster – the log and boulder playground – was open with demonstrations of things kids can do.

Of course our young users didn’t need much guidance to have a good time.

Property manager Shane Parsons showed a muddy spot and planned reroute on the Marsh Trail. The project is based on a 57-page trail assessment done by Peter S. Jensen and Associates.

This is a big project with a $420,000 price tag. Over $320,000 has been raised. You can help us reach our goal and make the trails safer and more comfortable for people while protecting the nature visitors come to enjoy. Visit our webpage https://www.massaudubon.org/get-outdoors/wildlife-sanctuaries/broadmoor for more details and look for updates in this blog. Public workshops on trail design and construction will be offered and we will be looking for volunteers to help with building.

Birds, Birds, Birds

Birds and Breakfast, Sunday, May 5 started overcast and damp, but everyone enjoyed a great show of early birds followed by pancakes with maple syrup from the Natick Community Organic Farm. Lists of species seen have been kept on the second or third Sunday of May every year for 42 years. The total seen during those years is now 132 species with the addition this year of a pair of ring-necked ducks. They were late migrants and gone the following day.

Great blue herons will take red-winged blackbird chicks if they encounter a nest in the marsh. This male red-winged blackbird circled and dived on the great blue, which raised its feathers in annoyance.

Mass Audubon’s Birdathon took place May 10-11. Broadmoor fielded nine teams across the state with 35 birders identifying 188 species and raising nearly $4,000 to support the sanctuary. One of the beautiful birds seen was the tiny common yellowthroat. It nests at Broadmoor along the marsh edge and sings “wichity, wichity, wichity”.

Visitors don’t need to search far for nesting birds, tree swallows and eastern bluebirds nest in boxes in front of the nature center. A house wren is using the nest box house to loudly announce his territory.

Thanks to Education Coordinator Joy Marzolf for these great photos of birds in action. Join her on May 25, for a workshop on Nature Photography: The Beauty of Spring. And check out more nature photography programs at Broadmoor. https://www.massaudubon.org/program-catalog/results/broadmoor/(keywords)/photography

Earth Week and Beyond

Natick’s Earth Day event attracted large crowds. Many presenters including Broadmoor focused on Climate Change. Our table had climate change information and actions we all can take to make a difference.

Visitors added their creative ideas to the Take Climate Action poster.

Mass Audubon continues our work to encourage emissions drawdowns and was awarded a grant by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection through the Electric Vehicle Incentives Program. I was pleased to accept the award from DEP Commissioner Marty Suuberg, with Brockton Mayor Bill Carpenter and Senator Michael Brady. The grant will help us install an electric vehicle charging station in the Broadmoor parking lot.

Senator Brady, Elissa Landre, Mayor Bill Carpenter, Commissioner Marty Suuberg

How can we celebrate this season without birds? Our annual Birds and Breakfast pancake breakfast and birding event is this Sunday, May 5 followed by Birdathon May 10 -11. Join us for one or both of these rites of Spring.

Red-bellied woodpecker

Spring Weekend

April Showers may be in the forecast, but flowers are blooming, birds are nesting and there’s lots to see when you visit the sanctuary.

Male downy woodpecker

A downy woodpecker has excavated a nest hole on the topmost branch of the dead ash tree in the native plants garden. Watch for coming and going in about two weeks when young are hatched and parents are feeding them.

Eastern bluebird

Nest box #15 in front of the nature center has 4 Eastern bluebird eggs. Borrow binoculars at the front desk to see if parent birds are delivering food to the young.

Eastern painted turtles

How many can you count from the boardwalk?

Snow fleas and Turtles

There are still footprints in the snow on the trails. Look closely, some have tiny black creatures the size of pepper flakes. But they jump. They’re snow fleas, Collembola, also called Springtails.  They live in the leaf litter where they’re very hard to see, except when they hop onto the snow.


Macro picture of a snow flea
Deer hoofprint
Bootprint



South winds and melting snow brought visitors to Broadmoor today to find red-winged blackbirds, great blue herons and the first turtle of 2019! Next week is the first day of Spring so come see what you can find.

Eastern painted turtle summer photo, but they are coming up for air as the ice melts

March Surprise

Broadmoor is beautifully blanketed in 15 inches of snow.

Indian Brook from the main bridge

That large mound of snow in the marsh is a huge beaver lodge. Look downstream from the main bridge.

Beaver lodge in the distance covered by snow

Trails can be walked but snow shoes and skis are a fun way to explore as well.

If you gear up at REI in the next month, please vote for Mass Audubon. Broadmoor will receive a grant that will go directly to trail improvements to make your adventures at the sanctuary even better in the future.

Lots of Activity!

February School vacation week camp was just about perfect this year. Kids got to slide like otters in the snow, practice their aim with snowballs at the icicles below the waterfalls and track the behavior of coyote, raccoon, squirrel, and turkeys.

Another day, the campers placed taps and buckets on two of the sugar maple trees in the nature play area to collect sap for the Natick Community Organic Farm. We’ll see that sap again on May 5 when it returns in the form of maple syrup for our annual Birds and Breakfast pancake breakfast and birding walks.

Maple buckets and fun in the snow

If you missed February vacation week, April will be just as much fun with birds and mammals more active, early flowers in bloom and spring peepers and woodfrogs calling.Visitors have been reporting river otter in the Wildlife Pond and this afternoon I got lucky and saw this large otter on an ice flow munching on a fish. While not a great photo, look for the very dark shape in the water on the upper right, and borrow a pair of binoculars at the visitor desk to look for yourself.

Hooded mergansers, mallards, house sparrows, cardinals, black-capped chckadees, tufted titmice and red-tailed hawks are also getting active.

January Thaw? Oops, it’s already February

After temperature extremes in January as low as minus 17 windchill, Broadmoor is having a brief thaw. Trails are mostly free of ice and ponds have some open water.

These are perfect conditions to look for river otters. Otters swim up and down the Charles River and streams that flow into it. At Broadmoor, Indian Brook flows through the sanctuary. Otters swim upstream, rest on floating ice; then slide into the water looking for fish. They are curious creatures so you may see them dive into the water, then raise their heads like a periscope to see what you are up to. If you don’t see the otters themselves, look for slides in the ice or across snow.

otter slide in snow

Another animal that visits when there is even a little open water is the hooded merganser, a petite diving duck, also looking for small fish.

Hooded merganser pair

This pair of “hoodies” as some call them, are fishing together in the Wildlife Pond.