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.
Mosses and lichens brighten their color on wet, warm days. These White Pine roots look solidly planted in the ground along the main trail.
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.
Other 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.
Look through the forest into any open water. You might find ducks like this male Mallard.
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.
Poison ivy vines cling with hairy rootlets to climb trunks.
The stems of Red Osier Dogwood pop out against the dull landscape.
The winter marsh glows in late afternoon sun.
Delicate vines of Virginia creeper wind around a lichen-covered ash branch.
A week to go before the official start of winter, and the landscape is looking crisp and snowy.
Look down from the boardwalk. If there’s black ice, turtles can sometimes be seen below under the ice.
Leafless wetland shrubs like these Alders have a beauty all their own with last year’s cones flocked with snow.
Crabapple fruit in the orchard is ready for robins.
Tracks tell a story. Deer and coyote crossed paths.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
Witch hazel, the latest flowering plant in the season. Last year’s pods have already shot their seeds out but remain on the branch,
This is why it’s called “Fall”.
Scarlet leaves of high bush blueberry.
The design team.
Broadmoor staff and volunteers.
Meet the (stuffed) beaver.
Exploring the marsh.
Staff office and visitor center for 7 months departs via truck as an oversize load. So long trailer!
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.
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.
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.
Crabapple trees are laden with fruit and the birds that eat them especially American Robins.
The 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.
The south porch of the new addition has an accessible ramp directly to the trails.
The mill pond bridge welcomes visitors to explore trails along the water.
The nature center will welcome visitors when it reopens on Saturday, November 2.
Finishing touches to the outside make the building envelope tight and energy efficient.
Signs of fall include mowing Indian Brook field.
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.
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.
Mornings are atmospheric these shorter days. The observation deck over the Wildlife Pond is a magical place in the mist.
Red maples are starting to turn color along the wildlife pond.
New England Aster is in bloom in the field with sugar maple turning orange in the background.
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.
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.
Walk along the main trail and take a deep breathe. Grapes are in bloom, a favorite food of foxes.
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.
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.
Winterberry Holly (Ilex verticillata) has beautiful red berries even after leaves drop. But hungry birds can strip the berries in minutes during the winter.