Category Archives: Uncategorized

January Thaw

Warm, rainy days make it feel like spring.  But don’t be fooled by the January thaw.

Ice on Indian Brook is breaking up and a Belted Kingfisher was seen hunting for small fish in the open pools.

January thaw

Mosses and lichens brighten their color on wet, warm days.  These White Pine roots look solidly planted in the ground along the main trail.

roots w moss

Some green in the fields teases visitors with promise of spring.  The Common mullein’s soft leaves like rabbit ears form a rosette that’s green year round.  Next summer a stalk with yellow flowers will emerge.

Common mulleinOther plants that stay green can cause problems.  Garlic mustard, a non-native plant from Europe shows small green leaves in winter.  Next spring its white flowers will set hundreds of tiny mustard seeds.  Resulting seedlings can completely cover the ground, crowding out native plants over time.

Garlic mustard

Look through the forest into any open water.  You might find ducks like this male Mallard.

mallard male

Winter Wonders

Whose tracks are these?  Last week a lone visitor explored the trails on snowshoes.

So far winter has featured weather extremes, revealing new wonders every day.

Look up close at trees.  Lichen and moss pop out on an oak trunk.

Cedar bark peels delicately.

cedar trunk

Poison ivy vines cling with hairy rootlets to climb trunks.

poison ivy

The stems of Red Osier Dogwood pop out against the dull landscape.

The winter marsh glows in late afternoon sun.

Winter marsh late afternoon

Delicate vines of Virginia creeper wind around a lichen-covered ash branch.

Lichen and Virginia creeper vine

Prelude to Winter

A week to go before the official start of winter, and the landscape is looking crisp and snowy.

gateway to winter

Look down from the boardwalk.  If there’s black ice, turtles can sometimes be seen below under the ice.

9145 Boardwalk BW SS

Leafless wetland shrubs like these Alders have a beauty all their own with last year’s cones flocked with snow.

Alder cones

Crabapple fruit in the orchard is ready for robins.

crabapples waiting for robins

Tracks tell a story.  Deer and coyote crossed paths.

tracks tell a story

Branching Out from the Nature Center

The focus has been on our new and renewed nature center this past year.  It’s time to branch out into the sanctuary.

You don’t have to go far this season to find wonderful stories.   All these are within 1/4 mile of the nature enter.

Skim ice forms overnight.  Look for frozen air bubbles and crystal patterns below the boardwalk.

Skim ice off boardwalk

Look closely into tangled leafless branches to spot birds like this White-throated Sparrow.  Head stripes and yellow lores between the eye and bill are just visible.

White-throated Sparrow 2

Winterberry Holly (Ilex verticillata) can be seen on wetland edges and in the native cultivars garden behind the nature center.  As food becomes scarce, flocks of birds like American Robins will devour all the berries in minutes.

Winterberry Holly (2)

Cattail seed heads are visible above the wetlands.  This one was visited by a bird, perhaps   a downy Woodpecker or Black-capped Chickadee.  It was torn apart to get to the insects sheltering inside for the winter.

Shredded cattail

Before the ice gets too think to break, beavers will be carving down trees to repair dams and lodges.  Look for fresh “chews and chips.”

P1070282 beaver chewed tree - boardwalk


The Saltonstall nature center reopened on schedule November 2 with a ribbon cutting, refreshments, family nature programs and lots smiles and lots of photos.

Thanks to everybody who made the renovations and addition possible and all who contributed to our celebration.

Finding Broadmoor on the aerial photo display.

finding Broadmoor on the aerial photo

Ribbon cutting.

ribbon cutting

Witch hazel, the latest flowering plant in the season.  Last year’s pods have already shot their seeds out but remain on the branch,

witch hazel w pods

This is why it’s called “Fall”.

leaves falling

Scarlet leaves of high bush blueberry.

scarlet blueberries

The design team.

design team

Broadmoor staff and volunteers.

staff and volunteers

Meet the (stuffed) beaver.

11-2-13 Beavers at Broadmoor- permission to use all (2)

Exploring the marsh.

11-2-13 Marsh Explorations- permission to use all (16)

11-2-13 Marsh Explorations- permission to use all (15)  DSC_1321a by Joy Marzolf OK to use 11-2-13 Marsh Explorations- permission to use all (12) cropped

 Staff office and visitor center for 7 months departs via truck as an oversize load.  So long trailer!

So long trailer


We’re Finally There!

The nature center grand reopening is this Saturday, November 2, with ribbon-cutting at 1 pm.  Join us for nature center tours,  refreshments and programs for the whole family from 1 – 4 pm.

The trailer that was our office and visitor center for the past seven months has gone away.

construction trailer

See how unhappy the Broadmoor core staff looks as we think about moving to our new offices in the nature center.

Oaks and Norway maples still sport a beautiful array of leaves.  Come and see for yourself.

Getting Ready for Winter

Frost has formed in low hollows some mornings.  Little Bluestem grass has beautiful seeds glistening with dew and birch leaves have turned yellow along Old Orchard Trail.

Old Orchard Trail and Little Bluestem

Crabapple trees are laden with fruit and the birds that eat them especially American Robins.

crabapple tree

crabapplesThe Parker Pavilion on the left frames the welcome center addition on the right, almost ready for the Gran Re-opening Saturday, November 2.  Ribbon-cutting will be at 1 pm with MassAudubon president Henry Tepper doing the honors.

Parker Pavilion and entrance

The south porch of the new addition has an accessible ramp directly to the trails.

South porch and sunspace


The mill pond bridge welcomes visitors to explore trails along the water.

IMG_2041-Boardwalk SA

The nature center will welcome visitors when it reopens on Saturday, November 2.

Visitor Greeting area renovated

Finishing touches to the outside make the building envelope tight and energy efficient.

Up in the airfinishing touches

Signs of fall include mowing Indian Brook field.

Indian Brook field mowing

An autumn surprise, low bush blueberries in flower.  As days get shorter some plants get “fooled” into flowering as they do on short spring days.

blueberry flowers in October

Days are Getting Shorter

The count down is on until the nature center grand reopening Saturday, November 2.  Doors to the welcome center addition frame the visitor desk in the background.

DSC_1115b sm for web



Mornings are atmospheric these shorter days.  The observation deck over the Wildlife Pond is a magical place in the mist.

IMG_1878-Observation deck  SA

Red maples are starting to turn color along the wildlife pond.

IMG_1890-Wildlife pond V2  SA

New England Aster is in bloom in the field with sugar maple turning orange in the background.

New England Asters

The Fruits of Fall

Berries, seeds and nuts are ripening in the fields and woods.  And the nature center renovation is coming to fruition.  Office manager Dan Cannata tries out the visitor services desk.  The low section on the left is designed for wheelchair and child-friendly accessibility.

Dan at welcome desk

Windows in the sunspace have been removed.  They will be replaced and sealed to improve air heating.  The sunspace is the primary source of heat for the nature center in winter.

sunspace work 2

Walk along the main trail and take a deep breathe.  Grapes are in bloom, a favorite food of foxes.

wild grapes6 sm for web

In the marsh, Water marigold is blooming.  The flowers look like small sunflowers but the seeds are “stick tights” that will hitch a ride on passing animals.  They are in the Beggar’s tick family.

Water marigold 2 off main bridge

Pokeweed ( Phytolacca americana) has juicy purple fruits loved by Gray Catbirds, Cedar Waxwings and others.  Look for purple stains around fence posts after birds have been feeding.

Poke berries

Winterberry Holly (Ilex verticillata) has beautiful red berries even after leaves drop.  But hungry birds can strip the berries in minutes during the winter.

Winterberry holly