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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Broadmoor is beautifully blanketed in 15 inches of snow.
That large mound of snow in the marsh is a huge beaver lodge. Look downstream from the main bridge.
Trails can be walked but snow shoes and skis are a fun way to explore as well.
If you gear up at REI in the next month, please vote for Mass Audubon. Broadmoor will receive a grant that will go directly to trail improvements to make your adventures at the sanctuary even better in the future.
February School vacation week camp was just about perfect this year. Kids got to slide like otters in the snow, practice their aim with snowballs at the icicles below the waterfalls and track the behavior of coyote, raccoon, squirrel, and turkeys.
Another day, the campers placed taps and buckets on two of the sugar maple trees in the nature play area to collect sap for the Natick Community Organic Farm. We’ll see that sap again on May 5 when it returns in the form of maple syrup for our annual Birds and Breakfast pancake breakfast and birding walks.
If you missed February vacation week, April will be just as much fun with birds and mammals more active, early flowers in bloom and spring peepers and woodfrogs calling.Visitors have been reporting river otter in the Wildlife Pond and this afternoon I got lucky and saw this large otter on an ice flow munching on a fish. While not a great photo, look for the very dark shape in the water on the upper right, and borrow a pair of binoculars at the visitor desk to look for yourself.
Hooded mergansers, mallards, house sparrows, cardinals, black-capped chckadees, tufted titmice and red-tailed hawks are also getting active.
After temperature extremes in January as low as minus 17 windchill, Broadmoor is having a brief thaw. Trails are mostly free of ice and ponds have some open water.
These are perfect conditions to look for river otters. Otters swim up and down the Charles River and streams that flow into it. At Broadmoor, Indian Brook flows through the sanctuary. Otters swim upstream, rest on floating ice; then slide into the water looking for fish. They are curious creatures so you may see them dive into the water, then raise their heads like a periscope to see what you are up to. If you don’t see the otters themselves, look for slides in the ice or across snow.
Another animal that visits when there is even a little open water is the hooded merganser, a petite diving duck, also looking for small fish.
This pair of “hoodies” as some call them, are fishing together in the Wildlife Pond.
Flying away to new homes, these milkweed seeds catch the wind for trips to new parts of the field.
Those that sprout and grow will be found next summer by Monarch butterflies to lay their eggs. The new plants will feed the caterpillars that hatch until they are ready to form a chrysalis; then hatch into the next generation of butterflies.
Wooly bears are caterpillars of the Isabela moth, often seen navigating the Broadmoor trails this time of year. Some have patterns of black and rust. This one is almost completely black. Many folks think the width of the colored bands can predict whether winters will be harsh or mild. There is no scientific evidence to support this idea, but it focuses attention on these little creatures.
A dead and rotting trunk was probably a perch for birds. Poison ivy vines sprouted from berries they deposited and have formed a wild sculpture.
Beech are among the last trees to lose their leaves. Some keep them most of the winter.
When you find pink survey tape on trees and shrubs and marked stakes in the ground, please leave them where you find them. They are wetland markers required for permits to improve our trails. Stay tuned for more about trail improvements and follow our progress on this blog in the coming year.
And now for a little winter teaser….. Between the time this post was started and publication, a wall of snow dropped four inches of snow at Broadmoor.