Author Archives: Elissa L.

Days Are Getting Shorter

There are lots of changes at Broadmoor starting with seasonal foliage. Fair Weather Birding this morning found downy woodpeckers perching on the gorgeous red leaves of poison ivy (Rhus radicans). Woodpeckers and many other birds relish the berries and will help spread this native plant, Both resident and migratory birds are fattening up on berries, seeds and insects.

Female downy woodpecker eating a poison ivy berry

Trail improvement work continues. The third workshop in a series of four, partially funded by Mass Trails, a Department of Conservation and Recreation education program, featured training in the basics of trail construction and management. Participants got to try tools including mattocks, McLeods, and rakes to remove built up berms that prevent water from draining off existing trails.

Trail Crew Leader Shane Parsons flagging berms to be removed on Glacial Hill Trail
Participants learn how to assess trail condition

Classroom and hands-on trail work helped participants understand the basics of trail creation and how to correct problems. The final workshop in the series, Planning for a New Sustainable Trail, will be Thursday, September 26. The workshop will explore trail layout and relocation in the field.

Another sign of seasonal change is turtle hatching. This baby snapping turtle emerged along with eleven siblings from a hole right next to the nature center and headed down to the marsh

For more details on Broadmoor’s Campaign for trail improvements go to .

Trails Re-imagined

Improvements for safety and comfort began last week across two wet areas of trail. The first spot is on Glacial Hill Trail where a seasonal stream makes crossing wet and muddy. The result is that visitors have widened the trail trying to avoid the mud, crushing and breaking plants and degrading the habitat.

How did the problem get solved? In a workshop for conservation managers and volunteers led by professional trail builder Peter Jensen, participants learned how to build a puncheon bridge.

Boards were brought to the site and sawed in the field. Sawdust was carefully collected on a tarp for removal.

Locust logs were placed and leveled as a base for the bridge.

A section of puncheon bridge near the mill sites was completed by the end of the week. This area of slippery rocks and seasonal stream flow was hazardous during high water.

Now, the bridge makes a safe and pleasant passage offering great views.

Trail Blazers

Branching Out at Broadmoor began when the nature center underwent a major renovation and addition, completed in 2013. Now we’re branching farther out onto the trails. Each week, this blog will feature updates on our work to improve all nine miles of trails. The campaign to fund the work has raised more than $331,000 toward our $420,000 goal, which includes endowment to maintain the trails far into the future. For details, on the campaign go to:

Dr. Lisa Standley explaining trail work during a workshop partially funded by Mass Trails entitled Planning and Design.

Mass Trails has partially funded four workshops for land managers, professionals and volunteers. The first workshop, this week, explored planning, design and permitting. For a description of the next workshop and to register, go to:

Summer campers in Trail Blazers and Explorers take a break from hands-on work on a trail reroute.

Summer campers in Broadmoor’s Explorers and Voyagers programs learned how to evaluate , plan and design trails, techniques for improving drainage and surfacing and got to help with a section of reroute. They had comments including: Where you place a trail gives a lot more accessibility and less maintenance, visitors shouldn’t have to correct trail problems, they should experience nature (safely and comfortably), and [the work] was hard and fun at the same time.

Property manager Shane Parsons, shows Stephen Rull and Bill Giezentanner his pole saw technique.

Trained trail team leaders will be working with individual and group volunteers starting in the fall. Look for opportunities in our volunteer listings on the Broadmoor homepage and posted in the nature center. Donations to the campaign and hands-on contributions will help improve and maintain our beautiful sanctuary for wildlife and for people.

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 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.

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

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