It’s a little early for Halloween, but not for the spectacular Halloween Pennant Dragonfly. Look for this orange and black beauty perched about three feet off the ground on grass flowers in the field near the nature center. Please stay on the trail. There are good looks right from the field edge.
Indian Brook from the bridge looks like a painting. Bring your camera or your painting gear to create a work of art inspired by this beautiful view. Or just sit on the bridge and enjoy!
Beautiful with tiny berries and huge leaves this year, watch for poison ivy along the trail edges. The berries attract birds that help spread this native, but invasive plant.
Raccoons are most active at dusk, often near water. This little one was in a tree near the Charles River.
How many turtles can you count from the boardwalk? I think the current record is 40. Eastern painted turtles bask on logs and lily pads. Covered in tiny green plants called duckweed, they are well disguised. But if they see you coming, they will drop quickly into the safety of the water.
It’s a great year for butterflies. Pearl crescents can be seen nectaring on asters. A good choice as they also lay their eggs on asters, which are the food plants for their caterpillars. This butterfly is perched on another nectar plant, black-eyed susan.
Common ringlets can be seen in fields close to the ground. Half a dozen or more will flutter lightly through the grasses that are food plants for their caterpillars.
Ebony Jewelwing is a spectacular damselfly. The male is unmistakable and can be seen under the hemlocks near the mill sites. The female flies close to the water and gently touches her abdomen to the water surface to lay eggs.
To see these fascinating creatures and learn more, sign up for a summer program on Butterflies and Dragonflies.
The boardwalk trail is a great place to see marsh life. To hear bird and amphibian sounds and learn more about the habitats, try our self-guiding Audio Tour on your cell phone.
The season of woodland wildflowers is finally here. Look under the pine and oak forests for these hidden treasures. Lady’s-slipper orchids, also called moccasin flowers are little pink slipper shaped flowers rising above oval dark green leaves. They grow very slowly and are becoming increasingly hard to find.
Canada mayflower is another beauty of the forest floor.
You might see a tiny red berry nestled between two oval leaves. Partridgeberries will have twin white flowers. This berry is last year’s.
Its name aptly describes the Cinnamon fern. A long plume of spores rises from the center of the fern fronds. Another fern in the same genus has soft brown spores along the midrib of a fern frond, hence the name Interrupted fern. Look for both in moist, shaded woods.
Heart-shaped pond lily leaves surround the single yellow flower of Nuphar also called bullhead lily.
In the trail you might find eggs. The Eastern Painted turtle is looking for a spot to lay hers.
But this Wood thrush egg shell was probably dropped after a predator ate the contents.
Baltimore Orioles among the apple blossoms are a sure sign of Spring at Broadmoor. The Old Orchard Trail is the perfect place to find them.
Look up. Turkey Vultures maybe soaring over the fields. These birds are now nesting in Massachusetts.
The observation deck above the Wildlife Pond is also a good spot to look for birds, muskrats,and beavers.
Secretive Green Herons will fish in the ponds, streams and marshes, but nest in small dense trees.
Want to bird with a guide and enjoy your sightings with other people? Join Birdathon the next weekend and check out the listings on the Broadmoor website for other birding activities. Sign up for Fair Weather Birding to see what we’ve planned for the coming week.
Tree Swallows and Eastern Bluebirds have selected nesting sites. Dover-Sherborn High volunteer is checking the boxes twice a week to track nest building, egg laying and young hatching and fledging. Nest records at Broadmoor date back several decades and show trends in timing and success of nests.
On warm days, reptiles are emerging. This garter snake was a bit slow moving across the forest floor near Indian Brook Trail.
Yellow pond lily (Nuphar) leaves are emerging on the water surface from their long underwater stalks which are attached to thick rhizomes rooted to the pond bottom. Later in the season yellow ball-shaped flowers will follow.
Beautiful, but aggressive to other waterfowl and sometimes people, the Mute Swan spread its wings and chased off the Canada Goose.
Beavers, snug in their lodges for the winter are emerging to touch up their dams and lodges. The young were born in the lodge and will join their parents on crepuscular excursions in the pond.
After exploring Broadmoor, visitors can enjoy a rest with views of the native plants garden and the field nest boxes from the nature center porch on our newly installed granite bench.
Tree Swallows are prospecting for nestboxes in the fields. After spending winter in the southern U.S. and Central America, they are hoping for insects to fatten on before they make nests and lay eggs. Tree swallows can eat some fruit like bayberries, which is one reason they can survive erratic weather.
Eastern Phoebes are calling FEE-bee and perching on fences and bridges. Sometimes they flip their tails up and down when perched. In May nearly every bridge and boardwalk will have a least one phoebe nest under it.
Indian Brook, ponds and wetlands are teeming with ducks, but many are wary of people so they may swim or fly away as you approach. Many ducks and geese appear black and white from a distance. Look for a pattern to help tell them apart. The Ring-necked Ducks in this picture have white on the sides and “shoulder”.
Hooded Merganser male and female can be seen in the same wetland.
Wood Duck males are spectacular, but very “shy” of people.
Vernal (or spring) pools are thawing. Any day Woodfrogs will appear to mate and lay eggs. Listen for what sounds like a flock of mallard ducks in the woods – it’s really the frogs.
Wood ducks have returned, White-throated Sparrows look fine in their bright new plumage and red-maple buds are just about ready to burst open. Snow and ice are retreating from the trails and woods and Wood frogs should be calling from vernal pools any day now.
Along the Charles River some Tupelo trees (Black gum, Nyssa Sylvatica) still sport icicles on cold wet mornings.
In the woods look for the “wings” on the stems of a bare branched shrub – the Winged Euonymous, also known as Burning Bush. Beautiful in fall, but an invasive exotic that can spread fast. When the plant is leafless, the “wings” show up.
After three months of Spring we can look forward to summer. Our camp is filling fast, but there are still spots in some sessions.
Deep snow makes walking hard for people and animals. The trails, compacted by people, are easier paths and used by lots of animals. The wing and body feathers of a Tufted Titmouse mark the spot on the boardwalk trail where a predator found a meal. Bird or mammal? Hard to tell.
Some predators leave signs like scat in the trail. Ropy scat with hair and bones can be fox or coyote.
Food is scarce for wildlife. But wood chips on the snow are the work of a woodpecker drilling into a tree in search of insects, grubs, eggs, or pupae.
Some plants keep their seeds well into winter, providing some food for birds and small mammals. The Catalpa with its long string bean-like seed pods sheds small seeds onto the snow covered boardwalk .
The scene from the main bridge looks like tundra.
But there are signs of thawing along Indian Brook.
As many as three dozen American Robins enjoy the crabapples remaining on trees in the parking lot. Even dried fruit can be food this time of year.
The sun is more than halfway between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox with longer days already apparent. Cedar waxwings are picking the last of the berries from trees and shrubs. Their elegant plumage stands out against a snowy background.
Our native plants garden on the southeast side of the nature center has Cranberry Viburnum shrubs with a few bright red berries remaining.
Look closely and you can see cedar waxwings devouring the berries. There is one right in the middle toward the bottom.
Our picnic tables tell the story – more than 10 inches of snow fell this week!
The trails await snowshoes, skis and even walkers with good boots.
Reflected light from snow pops out this male Northern Cardinal eating berries along the Wildlife Pond.
Deer tracks are easy to identify.
Deer Often follow the same pathways as people. A deer highway near the Wildlife Pond is frequently used.
Meadow voles tunnel under the snow. When it melts on top they look like small bobsled runs.
White-footed mice are active on top of the snow, often leaving tail drag marks.