What To Do This Weekend: Aug 18-19

Explore beach wildlife, paint wildflowers, investigate insects, paddle at sunset, gaze at the stars, participate in a duck derby, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

Cape Cod and Islands

This one-hour program at State Beach, run by a Felix Neck naturalist, explores a different aspect of Sengekontacket Pond each week. Saturdays at Sengekontacket include hands-on activities that engage with the birds above us and the creatures below the water’s surface. (all ages)

With their striking, long, curved beaks, whimbrels are always an exciting shorebird to observe. Join a naturalist for an afternoon stroll by the bay in search of Whimbrels at Wellfleet Bay along with other wildlife. (adults, registration required)

Go on a Sunset Kayak at Grays Beach in Dennis, a breeding ground for fish, birds, mollusks and crustaceans. Learn how these animals have adapted to live in the tidalzone by paddling through their waters with knowledgeable Mass Audubon naturalists. (adults, registration required)

More in Cape Cod and the Islands

South of Boston

Go on an Insect Investigation at Tidmarsh in Plymouth to learn all about creeping, crawling, and flying critters. Before going on our bug hunt we will get to make our own device that allows us to safely capture insects to observe them up close! (families, registration required)

Get your ducks in a row for the Allens Pond Duck Derby in South Dartmouth. You could win dinner anywhere in the world! Purchase your ducks and/or watch the race live. (registration required for race watching)

Did you know the razor clam’s can create its own quicksand in order to escape predation. Learn all about mollusks like the razor clam during a Family Fun Day at Duxbury Beach.

More in South of Boston

Greater Boston

Enjoy a free Coastal Bird Walk at Belle Isle Marsh in East Boston. Belle Isle Marsh offers a unique birding experience as it is close to urban life, but also has a highly productive coastal ecosystem. (adults, registration required)

It’s Garden Harvest time at Boston Nature Center. Explore the garden, learn about some tasty recipes, and find out how to prepare your garden for winter. (adults and children ages 5+)

Join local astronomers for a Star Gazing Night at Moose Hill in Sharon. Look at the stars and other night objects through big telescopes. (all ages)

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North Shore

During Wildflowers and Watercolors at Joppa Flats in Newburyport, discover summer wildflowers outside and then sketch and paint what you find. No experience necessary! (adults, registration required)

Search out avian activity in the Newburyport/Plum Island area, one of the best year-round birding locations in the country, as part of Saturday Morning Birding. Beginners and birders of all levels are welcome. (adults)

More on the North Shore

Connecticut River Valley

Beavers are amazing architects with fascinating life histories. Learn all about them as part of Beavers at Laughing Brook in Hampden and then head out on the trails looking for beaver dams, lodges, trees, and other signs. (adults and children ages 4+, registration required)

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Berkshires

Explore the lower trails at Pleasant Valley with an experienced guide on a Wildlife Ramble. Search for evidence of (and hopefully see!) wild birds and mammals as you hike along the rich pond and stream ecosystems that form the heart of the sanctuary. (all ages, registration required)

Go Canoeing on the Housatonic River in Lenox, looking for swallows, herons, kingfishers, muskrats, and signs of beavers along the way. (adults and children ages 10+, registration required)

More in the Berkshires

Salamander - Patrick Randall

Take 5: July Facebook Favorites

Over the course of the 2018 Photo Contest, we will be highlighting 5 photos from the previous month’s entries on Facebook and asking fans to select their favorite. This is just a fun way of sharing some of the amazing entries and doesn’t have to do with the official judging process.

You can pick your favorite by “liking” it on Facebook. Not a Facebook user? Let us know your top pick in the comments. And, there’s still time to enter the contest—the deadline is September 30!

Ed Anzures

Charles MGibbon

Zhanna Karachev

Patrick Randall

Jordan Kanes

White Admiral

What To Do This Weekend: Aug 11-12

Celebrate butterflies, go on nature walks, watch for shooting stars, enjoy a paddle, practice outdoor yoga, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

White Admiral

Greater Boston

Go on a Summer Morning Canoe on the Charles with Broadmoor in Natick. Listen to bird songs and watch for great blue herons, turtles and dragonflies as we paddle during the quiet morning hours. (adults, registration required)

Take a deep dive into habitats and ecological communities on a Naturalist Walk at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln, where you’ll explore the sanctuary observing, learning, and looking for amphibians, reptiles, mammals, flowering plants, trees, insects, birds, and more. (adults)

During Star, S’mores, and Meteors at Blue Hills in Milton, take in the sunset while we toast marshmallows, enjoy some celestial stories, and watch for early falling stars from the Perseid meteor showers. (families, registration required)

Stretch your legs on a Nature Walk at Boston Nature Center. Find out what there is to discover in the forests, meadows, and seasonal wetlands and learn about the biodiversity in an urban setting. (adults and children ages 4+, registration required)

Explore the fascinating world of Stony Brook in Norfolk during an Evening Wildlife Prowl. The pace will be relaxed and senses heightened as we look for creatures that come out just as the sun is setting (including owls, beavers, otters, and bats). (adults, registration required)

More in Greater Boston

South of Boston

With rates of up to one meteor per minute, the Perseid Meteor Shower is not to be missed!  Pack your telescope and/or binoculars and head to Allens Pond in South Dartmouth to watch as it lights up with beauty. (adults and children 12+, registration required)

Explore the Woods of Wareham on a guided hike through the trails at the Great Neck Wildlife sanctuary. Learn more about the flora and fauna that we encounter in the pine forest and marshes. (adults, registration required)

Learn how shorebirds all eat at the same table and compete with each other for the shoreline’s bounty during this week’s free Duxbury Beach Family Fun Day.

More in South of Boston

Cape Cod and Islands

This one-hour program at State Beach, run by a Felix Neck naturalist, explores a different aspect of Sengekontacket Pond each week. Saturdays at Sengekontacket include hands-on activities that engage with the birds above us and the creatures below the water’s surface. (all ages)

Take in the view from atop Sandy Neck Lighthouse and see all of Cape Cod Bay on a Barnstable Harbor Kayak Excursion. Land on Sandy Neck at the remote cottage colony and learn about one of the bay’s most fascinating places. (adults, registration required)

More in Cape Cod and the Islands

Central Massachusetts

Head to Wachusett Meadow in Princeton to connect with your breath, body, mind, and nature during Yoga at the Sanctuary. This class is appropriate for all levels, from beginners to advanced practitioners, as several options/modifications will be given for each pose. (adults, registration required)

Celebrate butterflies with a day of educational fun for all ages as part of the Barbara J. Walker Butterfly Festival at Broad Meadow Brook in Worcester. Expect nature-themed arts and crafts, a live caterpillar exhibit, butterfly plant sales, delicious food, and music.

More in Central Massachusetts

Connecticut River Valley

Get an Introduction to Grasses at Arcadia in Easthampton and Northampton. Find out the characteristics that distinguish grasses from grass-like sedges and rushes and learn how to identify some of the grasses found at Arcadia. (adults, registration required)

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Berkshires

Canoe the Upper and Lower Goose Ponds or the Housatonic River with Pleasant Valley. Look for wildlife and learn about the region’s waterways. (adults and children ages 10+, registration required)

More in the Berkshires

North Shore

Spend a morning at Ipswich River in Topsfield learning about Butterflies of Massachusetts.  Find out how to identify local species and their host plants, flight times, and life cycles. (adults, registration required)

Search out avian activity in the Newburyport/Plum Island area, one of the best year-round birding locations in the country, as part of Saturday Morning Birding. Beginners and birders of all levels are welcome. (adults)

More on the North Shore

Piping Plovers © Sandy Selesky

Protecting Endangered Species

Recently, the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) has come under unprecedented threat. More than two dozen pieces of legislation and policy proposals designed to weaken the law have surfaced. Mass Audubon has been advocating in support of upholding the ESA, which has been in place for 45 years.

Here are just three species that rely on the Endangered Species Act for protection and what Mass Audubon is doing to ensure that they remain in Massachusetts for generations to come.

Kemps Ridley

Rescuing a Kemps Ridley © Esther Horvath

Federal Status: Endangered

Most sea turtles are ectothermic, meaning that their body temperature is regulated by the temperature of the water around them. As winter approaches, the water temperature of Cape Cod Bay slowly drops, and sea turtles should make their way south to warmer tropical waters.

However, each year some juvenile turtles do not make the journey in time and become disoriented. By mid-November, the turtles are often too cold to eat, drink, or swim, and become “cold-stunned.” The turtles are often then pushed up onto the beach by strong winds, and left behind by the receding tide.

The smallest and most endangered sea turtle in the world, the Kemps Ridley is also the most common turtle to strand on bayside beaches each winter. Several hundred have stranded each winter on Cape Cod in recent years.

Since 1979, Wellfleet Bay staff and hundreds of volunteers have patrolled the beaches of Cape Cod, on the lookout for these cold-stunned turtles. Their efforts have resulted in the recovery of thousands of cold-stunned Kemps Ridleys over the past decade.

Rusty Patched Bumble Bee

Rusty Patched Bumble Bee via Jill Utrup/USFWS

Federal Status: Threatened

As recently as 30 years ago, this bumblebee was commonly found in a variety of habitats including prairies, woodlands, marshes, and residential parks and gardens. Their drastic decline started in the mid-1990s, and today they are very rare. This important pollinator is the first bee species to ever be added to the federal endangered species list.

Mass Audubon is protecting and maintaining old field habitats and installing pollinator gardens to support these bees and many other pollinators that live in the Commonwealth. We’ve also supported proposed state legislation that would help improve pollinator health, along with pollinator-friendly land protection programs.

Piping Plovers

Piping Plovers © Sandy Selesky

Piping Plovers © Sandy Selesky

Federal Status: Threatened

The dynamic coastal habitats of Massachusetts are the perfect fit for determined sparrow-sized, sand-colored Piping Plovers. Likely widespread on our coasts historically, Piping Plovers suffered an extreme decline in the early 20th century.

Thanks to the protection of the state and federal agencies, supportive beach communities, and initiatives like Mass Audubon’s Coastal Waterbird Program (CWP), the population has increased five-fold in Massachusetts since the mid-1980s.

CWP is dedicated to protecting coastal habitat for Piping Plovers and other shoreline-dependent birds. By erecting fencing to protect nesting areas, CWP ensures that Piping Plovers have the space to protect and raise their young. CWP also collects detailed data on nesting success and challenges in order to adapt beach management plans across the state.

By providing shorebird education and training opportunities to partners and students of conservation, CWP hopes to ensure the success of Piping Plovers and the enjoyment of our coastal habitats for generations to come.

How You Can Help

Contact your federal legislators and let them know you support the Endangered Species Act. Urge them to oppose any legislative attempts to weaken it that come before them for a vote.

Urge the federal government to continue protecting “threatened” species in the same way they protect endangered species. Waiting until a species becomes endangered increases the risk of extinction, as well as the level of effort and cost required to achieve species recovery. Submit comments >

Urge decision-makers to continue basing rare species protections on scientific data, not on potential economic impacts. Changing how these decisions are made could give corporations more leeway to develop protected habitats, and may make it easier for roads, pipelines, etc., including projects on public lands, to gain approvals despite impacts to endangered or threatened species. Submit comments >

Stars Over Lake © Andrew Santoro

Take 5: Star Trails

Astronomy-lovers across New England gazed upward in wonder last week as Mars made its closest approach to Earth since 2003, shining big and red in the night sky. If you missed the event but still want to see some celestial marvels, you’re in luck—the Perseid meteor shower will be reaching its peak between August 11–13. A few of our wildlife sanctuaries are hosting watch parties and some have astronomy programs year-round, so be sure to look for an event in your area!

To celebrate our astral obsession, we’ve rounded up five stunning photographs of star trails and the night sky from our Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. Enjoy these lovely images and submit your beautiful nature landscape photography to the 2018 photo contest today!

Stars in Night Sky © Paul Blankman

© Paul Blankman

Stars in Night Sky © Mackenzie Dillon

© Mackenzie Dillon

Star Trails © Greg Allison

© Greg Allison

Stars Over Lake © Andrew Santoro

© Andrew Santoro

Star Trails over Lake © Sean Henderson

© Sean Henderson

Bat copyright Dave Shattuck

What To Do This Weekend: Aug 4-5

Paddle in the Berkshires, take a night hike, look for birds, learn how to ID butterflies, run in a race, get the truth about bats, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

Bat © Dave Shattuck

Berkshires

Enjoy a Canoe on the Housatonic River in Lenox, looking for swallows, herons, kingfishers, muskrats, and signs of beavers along the way. (adults and children ages 10+, registration required)

More in the Berkshires

Central Massachusetts

Go on a Moonlight Hike at Wachusett Meadow in Princeton and connect to the landscape in an entirely different way than hiking by day. Landscapes become soundscapes, and familiar daytime wildlife yield the night to those with nocturnal habits. (adults, registration required)

More in Central Massachusetts

North Shore

Spend a morning at Ipswich River in Topsfield learning about Butterflies of Massachusetts.  Find out how to identify local species and their host plants, flight times, and life cycles. (adults, registration required)

Search out avian activity in the Newburyport/Plum Island area, one of the best year-round birding locations in the country, as part of Saturday Morning Birding. Beginners and birders of all levels are welcome. (adults)

More on the North Shore

Greater Boston

Do you like chocolate, bananas, or vanilla?  Without bats, we would not have any of these products. Enjoy an evening at Boston Nature Center for Go Bats to learn fact from fiction about bats.  (families, registration required)

Summer is a great time for a wide variety of  butterflies and dragonflies. During a program for adults and families learn about and explore the world of these beautiful flying insects at some of Broadmoor’s hotspots in Natick. (registration required)

As part of Dazzling Dragonflies and Damselflies at Blue Hills Trailside Museum make a craft and go on a short guided hike around Trailside’s pond to look for dragonflies and damselflies. (families, registration required)

More in Greater Boston

South of Boston

This event has been cancelled Go on a 4.5 mile Tidmarsh Traverse in Plymouth to explore the upland forests and wetland marshes. (adults, registration required)

Take part in the Annual Ducky Dash 5k road race to benefit the Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary in South Dartmouth. Run, walk, or roll (strollers are allowed) along the most gorgeous scenic course that starts at the sanctuary and runs flat and fast to Gooseberry Island and back.

Listen to a fun story, play a nature game, explore the sanctuary, or meet one of our animals as part of Saturday Morning Storytime at Oak Knoll in Attleboro. (registration required)

More in South of Boston

Cape Cod and Islands

During a Climate Change Walk and Talk at Felix Neck in Edgartown see areas that have been impacted by climate and weather events. Look at two ongoing projects that aim to address the changes that are occurring and learn what Mass Audubon is doing to address climate change. (adults, registration required)

Go on a Kayak Expedition of Chase Garden Creek in Dennis, a breeding ground for fish, birds, mollusks and crustaceans. Learn how these animals have adapted to live in the tidalzone by paddling through their waters with knowledgeable Mass Audubon naturalists. (adults, registration required)

More in Cape Cod and the Islands

Be a Garden Hero: Grow Sustainably

Gardeners are well-suited to help fight climate change, but sustainable gardening requires putting aside some traditional practices that work against nature.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to create a beautiful, natural, and functional landscapes that benefit the environment and our senses. Gardening sustainably also reduces the cost and labor required.

Purple Coneflower is a great climate-friendly addition to your garden.

Lawns are a Yawn

Over the country, our lawns add up to about 31 million acres, an area slightly larger than Mississippi. The cost of all that manicured grass is huge. According to the NRDC, Americans consume 3 trillion gallons just to water our residential lawns (about half the volume of Lake Champlain), 200 million gallons of gas to power our lawn equipment, and 70 million pounds of pesticides every year. On top of the ecological burden, lawns deprive birds and other wildlife of useful habitat and food, creating areas with little environmental value.

Instead of keeping large, open lawns, turn your yard into miniature sanctuaries for birds and pollinators.  For species feeling other stresses from climate change or loss of habitat, having a backyard stop to rest and refuel can support them when they need it most.

Plant Native Species

Choose native plants whenever possible. They help grow far more insects and provide better resources for birds and pollinators. Since native plants are adapted to a New England climate, they’ll also require less protection and effort to maintain. In Massachusetts, butterfly bushes and purple coneflowers are a couple excellent choices among many. Find some great native options.

Avoid Nitrogen Fertilizer

Producing and transporting fertilizers that include urea and ammonium nitrate, which are common in inexpensive home lawn care fertilizers, requires a lot of energy. Four to six pounds of carbon are emitted for every pound produced, so even modest use increases a garden’s carbon footprint. Overusing fertilizers (a common mistake) releases nitrous oxide, which has 300 hundred times the warming potential of carbon dioxide and makes a garden’s carbon footprint excessive.

With stronger, more frequent storms, we’re also seeing more nitrogen-loaded runoff in waterways. The buildup contributes to harmful algae blooms and toxic dead zones. Avoiding the use of such fertilizers helps offset the impact of stronger storms due to climate change.

Replace nitrogen fertilizers with manure or locally-produced compost sparingly and strategically.

Plant Trees

Trees or other woody plants help remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, so plant as much of your property with trees and rigid shrubs as possible.

Placing trees, shrubs, and vines to block winter winds and create summer shade can reduce the amount of energy required to heat and cool your home. Red Oaks, Red Maples, and Dogwoods are good native choices that should remain resilient to changing climate conditions over the next few decades.

Save the Rain

Gardens filled with native plants will generally thrive with normal amounts of rainwater, saving the time, energy, and water of irrigation. When you need more than what the weather is providing, or at different times, collect and store water with rain barrels, or sculpt your land to drain to areas where you want the water to go slowly and effectively, using what you receive as efficiently as possible.

Grow Your Own Food

Growing fruits and vegetables at home reduces your carbon footprint. It’s the ideal way to “eat local.” It eliminates the fuel needed to transport, store, and process food elsewhere. Grow plants from seed and make your food garden as diverse as possible, while mixing perennials with annuals. Berries are a great perennial option, as is rhubarb. Asparagus, grown commercially actually has a high carbon footprint, so growing your own can be a big help. Kale and garlic are good to grow as annuals.

Trade in Gas-powered Equipment

Reduce usage of gas-powered equipment like mowers, weed whackers, and leaf blowers as much as possible. Your neighbors will love you for it and you’ll be keeping carbon out of the air. When you can, use manual equipment: rakes, reel mowers, and shears. When necessary, use electrical equipment.

Blue Dasher dragonfly (female) © Charles Zapolski

Take 5: Dashing Dragonflies

Plentiful and easy to spot, dragonflies are some of the largest insects you’re likely to see in Massachusetts. They come in a dazzling array of colors, some even appearing iridescent in sunlight. Best of all, adult odonates eat a steady diet of other flying insects, including those pesky mosquitoes and black flies.

The summer issue of Explore, Mass Audubon’s member magazine, included an “Ode to Odonates,” highlighting the dragonflies and damselflies that make up the order Odonata. Learn more about odonates, common species found in Massachusetts (more than 160 have been recorded!), and how to tell the difference between dragonflies and damselflies on our website.

Here are five stunning dragonfly photographs that were submitted to our Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest in past years. The 2018 contest is open now through the end of September, so submit your great nature photos today!

Ruby Meadowhawk dragonfly (male) © Kerri Hoey

Ruby Meadowhawk (male) © Kerri Hoey

Blue Dasher dragonfly (female) © Charles Zapolski

Blue Dasher (female) © Charles Zapolski

Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly (female) © Gary Goguen

Eastern Pondhawk (female) © Gary Goguen

Twelve-spotted Skimmer dragonfly © Sharon Siter

Twelve-spotted Skimmer © Sharon Siter

Halloween Pennant dragonfly (male) © Teresa Taylor

Halloween Pennant (male) © Teresa Taylor

 

Black Swallowtail

What To Do This Weekend: July 28-29

Look for butterflies, forage for edible plants, learn how to identify ferns, fly a kite, kayak a creek, search for whimbrels, practice yoga, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

Black Swallowtail

Black Swallowtail

Greater Boston

Go on a Foraging Walk and Cooking Demo at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln and find out how to identify, harvest, and prepare edible plants found in everyday landscapes. (adults, registration required)

Learn about the Beautiful World of Butterflies at Blue Hills Trailside Museum in Milton. Start inside with an investigation of butterfly and moth specimens, a story, and a craft. Then go on a short walk around a native plant garden followed by a guided hike to look for local butterflies. (families, registration required)

Go Fly a Kite at Boston Nature Center. Partake in feather races, learn about wingbeat patterns, and make our very own kites. Bring your own kite for some quality flying time as well. (families, registration required)

More in Greater Boston

South of Boston

As part of Aquatic Explorers at Tidmarsh in Plymouth, take a closer look at the sanctuary’s pond and stream in search for some of the amazing creatures who call the water home. Use nets and hand lenses to see tadpoles, frogs, fish, and other critters up close! (families, registration required)

Practice Yoga at Allens Pond in South Dartmouth with nothing but the sounds of birds and nature serving as the backdrop to your practice. (adults, registration required)

Celebrate Family Fun Night at Oak Knoll in Attleboro by playing a game or making a craft. (families, registration required)

Head to Duxbury Beach for Free Family Fun about Horseshoe Crabs. Build sand sculptures depicting both this unique creature and its fellow citizens of the beach. Bring your buckets and pails.

More in South of Boston

Cape Cod and Islands

This one-hour program at State Beach, run by a Felix Neck naturalist, explores a different aspect of Sengekontacket Pond each week. Saturdays at Sengekontacket include hands-on activities that engage with the birds above us and the creatures below the water’s surface. (all ages)

With their striking, long, curved beaks, whimbrels are always an exciting shorebird to observe. Join a naturalist for an afternoon stroll by the bay in search of Whimbrels at Wellfleet Bay along with other wildlife. (adults, registration required)

Go on a Kayak Expedition of Chase Garden Creek in Dennis, a breeding ground for fish, birds, mollusks and crustaceans. Learn how these animals have adapted to live in the tidalzone by paddling through their waters with knowledgeable Mass Audubon naturalists. (adults, registration required)

More in Cape Cod and the Islands

North Shore

Drop in to Joppa Flats before the beach, after the beach, or instead of the beach to Meet Beach Creatures in a 110-gallon tide pool touch tank. Volunteers interpret the amazing animals you may or may not have seen on your own beach visits and answer all the “why, what, how” questions you want to know.

More on the North Shore

Central Massachusetts

Learn to connect with the natural world in a healing, calming, grounding, and replenishing way through a Shinrin-Yoku “Forest Breathing” Guided Sanctuary Walk at Wachusett Meadow in Princeton. Slow down and breathe in the “medicine” of nature. (adults, registration required)

More in Central Massachusetts

Berkshires

Go Canoeing on the Housatonic River in Lenox, looking for swallows, herons, kingfishers, muskrats, and signs of beavers along the way. (adults and children ages 10+, registration required)

Go on a journey into the Fascinating World of Ferns at Pleasant Valley to learn clues that reveal their true identity. Find out how to identify a fresh assortment of local ferns, then head outside to test your new skills.

More in the Berkshires

© Benita Ross

Take 5: Photographers in Action

The 2018 Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest is in full swing and the submissions are rolling in! A lot of folks don’t realize that in addition to wildlife and landscape shots, we also have a People in Nature category.

Here, we’ve compiled five photos of photographers in action, each of which was submitted to the People in Nature category. Have you entered your great nature photos yet? Send in your amazing shots of wildlife, landscapes, plants, fungi, and people in nature today!

Norman Smith Releasing a Snowy Owl © Christopher Blood

Norman Smith Releasing a Snowy Owl © Christopher Blood

© Kathy Diamontopoulos

© Kathy Diamontopoulos

© Benita Ross

© Benita Ross

© Amy Letourneau

© Amy Letourneau

© Erica Tworog-Dube

© Erica Tworog-Dube