A Photographer’s Dream

The trails are crunchy underfoot with just enough snow to pop out animal tracks. It’s clear, crisp and cold.

Squirrel tracks show how far they can jump.

Branches are lightly coated in ice, especially brilliant early morning and late afternoon.

Turkeys are everywhere. Just follow their tracks.

Winter is a wonderful time to explore!

Winter Wonders

Glorious sunsets start in late afternoon and seem to go on and on, especially after a storm. While the sanctuary closes to visitors at dusk, join a special Owl Prowl program to explore some of the trails at night and learn about the world of our night time inhabitants.

Exploring in the snow is special with animal tracks and scat sometimes telling “stories”. This flock of turkeys is ignoring the sign to Stay On The Trail, making a beeline for the bird feeders behind the nature center.

Join one of our scheduled weekend walks to learn more about animal tracks and signs.

Nature For Everybody

Two visitors dropped b to enjoy the fall colors together and discovered: The Freedom Chair, a self-propelled trail chair based on bicycle technology. It’s available to borrow for use on the All Persons Trail at Broadmoor thanks to a donor who wants to make nature accessible for everyone. It can be pushed by a second person or propelled using the levers.

Trail improvements continue under the supervision of Terra Corps Land Stewardship Coordinator, Jonas Bruggemann and Property Manager Shane Parsons. They are returning from a volunteer work day with students from Walnut Hill School in Natick.

Want to help? Look for volunteer opportunities on Broadmoor’s website www.massaudubon.org/broadmoor or email broadmoortrails@massaudubon.org.

Walnut Hill students together with Natick High students hosted a Town Hall about how the Green New Deal will address climate change last week. The energetic event focused on action. It was a pleasure to join a panel exploring how Mass Audubon, the state legislature, community organizations and activists can work together.

There are lots of ways to be involved. If you saw recent news about the dramatic decline in the number of birds in North America and Canada over the past 50 years – nearly 30% are gone – here’s a chance to be part of a long term project that tracks changes locally.

On Saturday, December 14, teams of birders will count individual birds in a 15-mile diameter circle centered in Millis. Broadmoor and Stony Brook Wildlife Sanctuaries are located in the circle. This will be the 48th annual Millis Count, part of the 120th Annual Christmas Count that began in New York in 1900.

You can help. If you’d like to join a team of birders in the field, all levels of experience are welcome. If you live within the count circle, you can count your own backyard, your bird feeder, or organize friends in your neighborhood. Send a message to broadmoor@massaudubon.org with your name, email and, if you want to know if you live within the circle, your street address. More eyes in the field give us better data. It’s a fun way to meet people who share your curiosity and interest in naure.

Focus on Fall

The most beautiful season at Broadmoor features amazing scenes around every turn in the trail. The colors of maples, berries on American holly and ferns turning golden are vibrant around the wetlands

Trail improvements will make your visit be even more enjoyable, focused on nature and less on rocks and roots in your path.

The Glacial Hill – Indian Brook Trail reroute was celebrated on a crisp Saturday morning with volunteers, staff, and summer campers, who created the reroute this summer and fall posing in front of the new route entrance.

Summer campers got to pull the bow on the ribbon so we can reuse it for the next opening.

Working on the trail project is fun, skill-building, and creates results that make a visit to Broadmoor more enjoyable for everybody. The plants and animals that live on the sanctuary appreciate the changes too.

Want to help? We need funds for detail design, materials and equipment. To donate, go to https://www.massaudubon.org/get-outdoors/wildlife-sanctuaries/broadmoor/support

If hands-on work appeals, please email broadmoortrails@massaudubon.org. Broadmoor’s Terra Corps land stewardship coordinator, Jonas Bruggemann, will reply and connect you to some workday opportunities.


Join volunteers, summer campers, staff, and workshop participants to celebrate the opening of the Glacial Hill-Indian Brook Trail reroute.

Meet at 9:30 am for cider and donuts; then walk a half mile of Indian Brook Trail to the relocation. Talk with the people who actually did the work and cheer while they “cut the ribbon.”

Summer campers, counselors and staff

Access to the main bridge has been improved. Rocks and roots are gone. Geese and ducks are gathering in the brook and you might encounter a wooly bear caterpillar sauntering across.

trail to main bridge
Wooly bear

Experience the wonders of fall. It’s a beautiful time to be outdoors.

All Persons Trail Extension is Happening!

The trail to Broadmoor’s main bridge will be closed tomorrow for construction to extend the accessible trail. The trail will be under construction but passable with caution this weekend. Expect completion is Tuesday, October 1. Visitor services staffers can help you plan an alternate route this week.

Professional trail builders, Broadmoor staff, and volunteers confer on regrading the approach to the main bridge.

The current layout of the trail is too steep and can be icy in winter.

Some of the work requires rock cribbing. Large rocks are moved into place using a micro-excavator and buried deeply to hold the trail surface in place.

This summer, campers in Trail Blazers and Explorers helped build the Indian Brook to Glacial Hill relocation to bypass steep eroding slopes.

The grand opening of the trail will be Saturday October 5. Join us at the nature center pavilion at 9:30 am for cider and donuts; then walk the half mile out to the relocation and help us cut the ribbon.

The goal for our campaign is $420,000. We have raised $344,899. Please make a donation to help us complete this ambitious project for visitors and for the wildlife we protect. To make a donation on-line, go to https://www.massaudubon.org/get-outdoors/wildlife-sanctuaries/broadmoor/support . Thank You!

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 https://www.massaudubon.org/get-outdoors/wildlife-sanctuaries/broadmoor/support .

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: https://www.massaudubon.org/get-outdoors/wildlife-sanctuaries/broadmoor/support

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: https://www.massaudubon.org/program-catalog/broadmoor/68591-puncheon-bridge-construction

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.