Category Archives: Celebrating 100 years

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Catching Up With the Past

MH100_fullcolorIt’s hard to believe that 2016 has come and has almost gone. After 100 years as Mass Audubon’s first wildlife sanctuary, one year seems like a short period of time, yet despite the quickness by which this year has seemed to go by, what a year it has been.

Celebrating 100 years kicked off in March as Moose Hill celebrated 44 years of maple sugaring. With programs for schools, groups, and visitors to learn about the process of turning sap into syrup, this time honored annual event continues to connect people with a truly New England crop – maple syrup -oh how sweet it is. Join us at a program or for Maple Sugaring Weekends in 2017.

classic George and Martha

George and Martha, our 250 year old maple trees, are ready for sugaring season.

On April 7 as we welcomed back David Clapp for a Fireside Chat. David grew up in Sharon, was one of the very first campers Moose Hill ever had, and later became one of the sanctuary directors here. An evening of stories, shared memories, and even some great pictures and other keepsakes was enjoyed!

The celebration continued on April 9 with a “100th day of the year” celebration. All Mass Audubon sanctuaries were open for free that day – some with programs that visitors could attend, some with cookies or cakes, but all with the opportunity to share our wonderful sanctuaries with visitors – those that had never been to a sanctuary before and those that enjoy the sanctuaries all the time. It was a great day for greeting old friends and making new ones too!

raccoon at sign 1958

Lotor, the raccoon knows where to hang.

Here at Moose Hill, we had the pleasure of meeting one of the sons of a former sanctuary director, Al Bussewitz. His son, Al, stopped by on April 9 and shared photos and stories, and we even took a tour of the old nature center – the home in which Al had lived when he was younger. It was great to finally hear the truth behind some of the stories that we have heard and to learn what it was like to grow up at a wildlife sanctuary.

staff and volunteers gather for Statewide Volunteer Day in April

staff and volunteers gather for Statewide Volunteer Day in April

With 100 years to celebrate, Moose Hill wanted to provide as many opportunities for people to visit and experience our great sanctuary as possible. On April 30, Moose Hill was one of the host sites for Mass Audubon’s Statewide Volunteer Day. With staff working by their side, volunteers joined us to spruce up our gardens, spread wood chips, weed the fields for our Community Supported Agriculture program, and scrub down the camp garage. Laughter, along with a lot of much appreciated work, was done! We look forward to next year’s volunteer day so we can do it all again.DSC05128

June brought camp – 67 years strong – back to Moose Hill. Our summers just wouldn’t be the same without campers exploring the trails, discovering the farm fields, catching frogs, experimenting with science, dabbling in art, and venturing new places. Building appreciation for the natural world, providing hands-on science learning, and helping children develop important life skills, such as teamwork, leadership, and self-expression remains our focus. Registration for summer 2017 begins soon!barn-display2

As summer ended and campers headed back to school, it was time to turn our attention to fall and Halloween Prowl. With another visit from a former director, Mike Shannon and his wife, Margie, we discovered that so much of this event follows the traditions that Mike and Margie created when they started this event 34 years ago. Each year, the costumed characters change, but since this was our 100th year as the first sanctuary, we decided to bring back our favorites to have on the trails and the opossum, great blue heron, dragonfly, and dung beetle did not disappoint. Of course the luminary lit trails started with a druid and ended with a celebration fire followed by hot chocolate, camp fire songs and even S’mores to finish off the night! Guess we’ll do it again next October; we just have so much fun.

Welcome Mass Audubon staff!

Welcome Mass Audubon staff!

But we didn’t limit our celebrations to events, visits from past staff and campers, and programs, Moose Hill also hosted the Mass Audubon Board of Directors for a meeting in June with a tour of our fabulous sanctuary and organic strawberries from our farm. Then, in early September, we were delighted to be the gathering site for the Mass Audubon annual staff outing, sharing the sanctuary and a few of the surrounding attractions with our colleagues from across the state, and the islands.

And to top it all off, every visit provided everyone the opportunity to explore our Gallery. The four shows this past year all reflected in some way on Celebrating 100 years:

  • Looking Back…Moving Forward – highlighting artists who have exhibited at Moose Hill before, showcasing their creativity and individual expressions of nature with pastels, oil, watercolors, and photography.climate-change
  • What Have We Got to Lose? – an opportunity to capture the potential loss of our natural resources through the impacts of climate change through an artist’s eye.
  • Hidden Treasures at Moose Hill – a return of the innovative photographs by Fred Martins that were featured in Moose Hill Art calendars from 2006-2011. Each photograph explored the many hidden treasures of the sanctuary and invited visitors to get out on the trails and explore the wetlands, vernal pools, streams, and pine forests at Moose Hill.
  • Birds of Prey – noted for their keen vision and powerful talons, birds of prey intrigue and fascinate and were the perfect ending on the year – after all, any exhibit that features birds reminds us of the story of Mass Audubon.

It truly has been a wonderful year and we thank everyone who visited, shared stories, pictures, memories, and time with us. It is the land, the staff, the volunteers, and all of you that make Moose Hill still as vibrant today as it was 100 years ago!

We look forward to seeing you on here in 2017 as we begin the next 100 years of Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary.

Maple Sugaring Festival 2016

Pictures are worth a thousand words – what a great year for our 44th Maple Sugaring Festival

Moose Hill By the Numbers

Connections MH100_fullcolor a newsletter for Mass Audubon members – recently featured Moose Hill in its By the Numbers article, highlighting the fact that Moose Hill is celebrating 100 years throughout 2016.

In preparing for this quick snapshot, there were a lot numbers that we gathered. Fun tidbits of information, and some real data about what we do here at Moose Hill. Needless to say, in 100 years, we provided more information than there was space available. The listing was pared down to fit the allotted space, and we love the numbers that were chosen. They touched on some of the key elements that make Moose Hill the place it is today. The article summarized a little about the land we protect, the natural communities that we encompass, the wildlife that we study, the events that have lasted through the years, the programs that are our backbone, and the staff.

But we just can’t stop thinking about all those other numbers that didn’t make it in and we are inspired to gather even more. In fact, we’d love to fill a wall with all the great facts and fun tidbits that remind us why Moose Hill is here. We will keep adding to our By the Numbers wall, and by the end of 2016, we hope to reach 100 fascinating facts and fun tidbits.

But, we need your help to do it! Share your stories with us – how many times have you hiked here? How many friends have you introduced to Moose Hill? How many photographs have you taken over the years? How many steps have you taken at Moose Hill? We will compile the information and continue to add to our By the Numbers wall. We’ll even post updates on how we are doing through our Facebook page.

And don’t forget to stay connected throughout the year: continue to share your adventures, past and present, on Facebook or Instagram (add Mass Audubon’s Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary as the location) using #MooseHill100.

We hope to see you soon, on the hill!

When the Sun Goes Down

Harry Higbee, a noted ornithologist, was the very first superintendent hired at Moose Hill. He was charged with maintaining the property and teaching visitors about planting to attract birds.

Periodically, Harry Higbee wrote about what was happening at the sanctuary, sharing his own observations and thoughts…and his own poetry.

I came across this great photo by one of our staff, Matt Apone, who captured a sunset (a true bonus to being staff at Moose Hill is the ability to roam the grounds once we have closed – our trails are only open dawn to dusk) and it reminded me of a poem that Mr. Higbee wrote in 1938.sunset at the bluffs

When the Sun Goes Down

I love the fire that burns in the west

At the hour of day’s decline;

When the sweet refrain of the Hermit Thrush

Comes clear on the evening’s golden lush

From the dark and shadowy pine.

‘Tis the end of a day when the sun goes down –

Though it gives me a bit of pain,

At the thought of so much I have left undone

And so few the battles I’ve nobly won,

In these hours of loss and gain.

Yet there comes a feeling of sweet repose

As I look toward the glowing west;

And a promise of better days to come

Seem born in the rays of the setting sun

As it silently sinks to rest. –H.G.H.

Moose Hill Notes – Winter past

Once again, I have been enjoying the notes from past directors and their observations as they worked, and lived, here at Moose Hill. I came across this Moose Hill Notes write-up from January 1952 by Albert Bussewitz. Check out what was happening 64 years ago:

During a large portion of the past month the Moose Hill area was free of snow and temperatures were appreciably above the norm for this time of year. Outside of two or three sharp downward thrusts of the mercury there were relatively few days when weather conditions imposed unduly severe restrictions on the bird population.

Evening GrosbeakThere appeared to be a slight diminution in numbers of Evening Grosbeaks and the Pine Grosbeaks were sighted on only two occasions. The former species made sporadic forays on the sunflower seeds with characteristic avidity but the flocks were smaller and less frequent. However, reports of Evening Grosbeak visitations at feeders in Sharon and nearby town persisted and their large influx this season has made them the conservation piece of many a Sanctuary visitor.

It seems very difficult to believe that the two aged apple trees near the museum porch on the north side of the residence can still harbor any form or vestige of insect life. So persistently throughout the four seasons have they (been) finely combed by a large variety of bird visitors. Despite the vigilance of the past the squat boles and crooked branches of these fruit bearers are subjected to an unceasing scrutiny by sharp avian eyes and equally sharp bills. Last month the Brown Creeper was a frequent bark prober and though his gleanings may have been meager enough his visits continued with unflagging perseverance. One wonders how much insect fare remains undiscovered by the searching spirals of this indefatigable worker to placate the appetites of the many Downies, Chickadees, Nuthatches and the occasional Hairy Woodpeckers. All ply the selfsame territory day after day with unremitting zeal.

Ruffed Grouse continue to be seen along the tails and about the residence in gratifying numbers and it seems reasonable to believe that their periodic cycle of abundance is in the ascendancy. At least this seems true on the local level.

We think that five Chickadees feeding and cavorting simultaneously on a single peanut log is a right tidy sum — and sight. Quit often two or three of the sprightly fellows are observed sharing the same the samblack-capped chickadeee larder but last week one day a full fivesome crowded about the buffet-style facility. It was with great regret that we were unable to obtain a photographic record of the busy scene and so we must ask our readers to accept on faith the accuracy of our account. Or are Chickadees equally gregarious at your snack-stick?

Principal fruits of some of the Saturday trail hikes taken by visiting Day campers of last summer have been the snug winter homes of the Saturniidae–especially the cocoons of the Cecropia and Promethea moths. Not all of them, however, will be developing large and colorful lepidopterous forms for the very lightness of many of the silken cases suggests that the ubiquitous ichneumon fly has stolen a march on the carefully spun plans of the moth larvae.

Truly these are the notes of a true nature observer – such detail and embellished descriptions of his observations. While Pine Grosbeak and Ruffed Grouse have not been recorded at Moose Hill for some time, you can still observe Evening Grosbeak, Brown Creeper, Downy Woodpecker, Black-capped Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch, and Hairy Woodpecker on the property. In fact most of them are very easy to observe at our bird feeding area at the Visitor Center – you can warm up inside, enjoy the current show in the Gallery, and sit and watch the activity at the bird feeders. Sounds like a great way to enjoy a cold winter day to me!

A Good Place to Hang

While Moose Hill is ever-moving forward, it is fun to poke through some of the past. While not every detail has been saved, there are various notes, articles, and pictures from over the years. This picture is truly one of my favorites – clearly this was a good place to hang out.

raccoon at sign 1958

Taken in 1958 by Albert “Buzzy” Bussewitz, a former Moose Hill Sanctuary Director (1948-65), the handsome raccoon seems at ease on the arm of a sanctuary signpost. The picture found its way into a local newspaper, the Mansfield News, with an article: Moose Hill Sanctuary in Sharon, Habitat of  Endless Wonders of Nature in this Area.

At the time, the sanctuary protected just 250 acres, had only eight miles of trails, had 10 years of a successful natural history summer day camp for boys and girls under its belt, and, since 1916, 143 species of birds had been identified on site. Today, we protect 1,971 acres of land with another 302 acres held in conservation restriction, there are 25 miles of trails, we still have a very active day camp, and at least 180 species of birds have been identified on site.

In the newspaper article featuring the picture of the relaxed racoon above, Mr. Bussewitz summarized some of the activity at Moose Hill and concluded with some information about the summer camp program:

teacher naturalist Michael teaching about bugs“The discoveries revolve about the birds, mammals, reptiles, insects, trees, flowers, rocks, minerals and weather forecasting…. The program is designed to bring to a youngster a larger world,…”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Registration for our 67th year of summer camp begins January 14.

Don’t forget to check out all of our great programs in our Winter/Spring catalog.

We look forward to seeing you at a program, visiting the Gallery, or out on the trails, soon!