Evening Sail on the Schooner Adventure

What To Do This Weekend: Aug 24-25

Go on a evening sail, look for birds, practice yoga, kayak, learn about mushrooms, gaze at the stars, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

Evening Sail on the Schooner Adventure
Evening Sail on the Schooner Adventure

North Shore

Enjoy an Evening Sail aboard the 122-foot Schooner Adventure. During the sail, guests will learn about the schooner, the maritime and natural history of the area, and watch birds. (adults, registration required)

Go Saturday Morning Birding in the Newburyport/Plum Island are — one of the best year-round birding locations in the country. Beginners and birders of all levels are welcome. (adults)

More on the North Shore

Greater Boston

Birders and non-birders of all ages and skill levels are invited for a Morning Bird Walk at Habitat in Belmont. Look for signs of migrating species, mating behaviors, and nest building. (all ages)

Spend your Sunday morning helping Boston Nature Center as part of Volunteer Morning. Drop-in to help out with the gardens and invasive plant control. (All ages)

Go on a Late Summer Bird Walk around Stony Brook in Norfolk to look for breeding birds and maybe migrating shorebirds. (adults, registration required)

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)

More in Greater Boston

South of Boston

Head to Duxbury Beach for a Family Fun Day all about mudflats. Explore the mudflats searching for mollusks, crabs, and other creatures. Wear your boots because you are bound to get muddy!

Practice Yoga in the Stone Barn at Allens Pond in South Dartmouth with nothing but the sounds of birds and nature serving as the backdrop to your practice. Taught by a certified instructor from School of Yoga New Bedford, this program is suitable for yogis of all levels. (adults)

More in South of Boston

Cape Cod

Experience Sunset on the Marsh by Kayak with Long Pasture. See the marshes of Gray’s Beach or Sampson’s Island bathed in opulent oranges, romantic reds, pearlescent pinks and magnificent purples. (adults, registration required)

More on Cape Cod and Islands

Berkshires

Discover Fantastic Fungi at Lime Kiln Farm in Sheffield as we examine mushrooms big and small, edible and poisonous. (adults, registration required)

Find out about Animals A to Z at Pleasant Valley in Lenox. Search for all the critters, from ants to zooplankton. Bring a picnic to enjoy the evening. (families, registration required)

More in the Berkshires

Landscape at Sunset - Lynda Appel

Take 5: July 2019 Facebook Favorites

Over the course of the 2019 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!

© Bonnie Tate
© Craig Clemow
© Tenzin Jampa
© Lynda Appel
© Michael Fager
Beaver © Karen Riggert

What To Do This Weekend: Aug 17-18

Go canoeing, learn about beavers, look for butterflies, save on binoculars, practice yoga, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

Beaver © Karen Riggert
Beaver © Karen Riggert

Berkshires

Canoe the Housatonic River in Lenox. During this leisurely paddle watch for swallows, herons, kingfishers, muskrats, and signs of beavers and learn about why the waterway is the natural heart of the Berkshires. (adults and children ages 10+, registration required)

Find out about Animals A to Z at Pleasant Valley in Lenox. Search for all the critters, from ants to zooplankton. Bring a picnic to enjoy the evening. (families, registration required)

More in the Berkshires

Connecticut River Valley

During Beavers at Laughing Brook in Hampden, learn about these unique mammals and then head out on the trails looking for beaver dams, lodges, trees, and other signs that beavers have been busy! (adults and children, registration required)

Canoe the Arcadia Marsh along with the Connecticut River oxbow and the Mill River on this leisurely canoe trip in Easthampton and Northampton. Learn about the wildlife that inhabits these areas and the ever changing landscape. (adults, registration required)

North Shore

Enjoy Nature Walks & Journaling with Joppa Flats in Newbury. Discover seasonal vegetation and blooms on short walks then create memorable journals using writing, drawing, watercolor painting, and photos. (adults, registration required)

Drop in to Joppa Flats in Newburyport 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

Greater Boston

Take a free Coastal Bird Walk at Belle Isle Marsh to learn more about Boston’s coastal birds. 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 Turtle Time at Blue Hills Trailside Museum in Milton. Start inside with a hands-on investigation of turtle artifacts, an up-close visit with our resident turtles, a story, and a turtle craft. Then visit Trailside’s pond to watch turtles in their natural habitat. (families, registration required)

The gardens are in full swing, and producing some great, fresh, seasonal food. Head to Boston Nature Center in Mattapan for Garden Harvest to survey the garden, learn tasty recipes, and make a garden salad and fresh tea. (adults and children, registration required)

Go on a Naturalist Walk at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln to explore the many habitats of the wildlife sanctuary while building an understanding of ecological communities and our mutual interdependence. (adults and children ages 13+, registration required)

Visit the Mass Audubon Shop in Lincoln for Tax-Free Weekend savings and get 20% off Zeiss and Swarovski binoculars and spotting scopes! 

South of Boston

Head to Duxbury Beach for a Family Fun Day all about Shorebird Feeding Adaptations. Learn how shorebirds all eat at the same table and compete with each other for the shoreline’s bounty.

Practice Yoga in the Stone Barn at Allens Pond in South Dartmouth with nothing but the sounds of birds and nature serving as the backdrop to your practice. Taught by a certified instructor from School of Yoga New Bedford, this program is suitable for yogis of all levels. (adults)

It’s All About Bees and Butterflies at Tidmarsh in Plymouth. Take a short walk, explore, and learn new things about different plants, animals, and other parts of nature. (families, registration required)

During Oak Knoll’s Family Exploration in Attleboro, dive into our worm bin and discover the secret lives of these wiggly creatures and other hard working insects. (families, registration required)

Cape Cod and Islands

Enjoy an Early Bird Walk at Wellfleet Bay. From pine woodlands and freshwater pond to salt marsh and beach, the sanctuary’s diverse natural communities offer diverse bird sightings. (adults, registration required)

Kayak the Herring River in Harwich, one of the most wild and scenic rivers on Cape Cod. Wildlife abound along the peaceful banks and expansive marsh. (adults, registration required)

The Role of Land Conservation in Fighting Climate Change

The climate crisis often evokes images of coal-burning power plants, oil rigs drilling for fossil fuels, and congested roadways filled with gas-guzzling vehicles.

But what about the land that surrounds us?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has told us that we are in the fight of our lives to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Land plays an important role in the climate system and is already under growing pressure from human impacts.

In their most recent special report, scientists describe how agriculture, deforestation, desertification and other human activities have altered 70% of the land on the Earth’s surface. Not only are these changes contributing to a warming climate, they are also reducing the ability of forests and other natural systems to store greenhouse gases that drive climate change.  

And, to make matters worse, climate change exacerbates land degradation through increases in extreme weather, rainfall intensity, flooding, drought frequency and intensity, heat stress, wind, and sea-level rise. Science tells us these natural hazards will continue to impact our land, people’s health, and our economies.

The IPCC report calls out some key land use recommendations for policymakers to consider in the near term in order to maintain land productivity, increase food security, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including:

  • Reduce deforestation and forest degradation
  • Increase the use of sustainable farming techniques
  • Decrease reliance on meat-based diets 
  • Strengthen indigenous land ownership rights
  • Eliminate food waste

Most importantly, the report highlights that scientists, policymakers, and land managers know enough about these recommendations and their impact on our climate that the time to act and create meaningful change is now.

So, what can we do?

At Mass Audubon, our land conservation strategy is directly linked to climate change mitigation and adaptation. As the largest private land owner in Massachusetts with more than 38,000 acres protected, we know how critical land conservation and effective land management is in the age of climate change.

Our recent entry in the California Air Resources Board (CARB) carbon offset market ensures that 10,000 acres of forested land will be protected for the next 100 years, ensuring the carbon stored in this critical landscape remains there.

At our Drumlin Farm and Moose Hill wildlife sanctuaries, we practice community-based sustainable farming because of our deep commitment to the people, land, water, and air that enable our food system to thrive.

And, throughout our advocacy work at the state and local levels, we continue to advocate for the protection of forests, farmlands, and critical wildlife habitat. 

You can be part of our land conservation efforts by protecting land in your community and supporting our efforts to address climate change through effective land protection, advocacy, education, and more.  In your own life, you can reduce your carbon footprint by eating less meat, reducing your food waste, and supporting local, sustainable farmers when you shop.

A Wake-Up Call

This new report is yet another bold wake-up call that we must act now to address the consequences of climate change–many of which we are already seeing today and will only increase in severity in the coming decades.

But, we must also remember that this is not all doom and gloom. As conservationists and land managers, we know the solutions are deeply embedded within our work. It is on all of us to answer this call to action with even more tenacity and urgency than ever before.  

Starry sky behind an illuminated lighthouse

Take 5: Seeing Stars

Summer is such a fantastic time of year for stargazing. True, you’ll have to stay up later for it to get dark, but at least you can comfortably enjoy the majesty of the night sky without a wool hat, gloves, heavy boots, parka, and half a dozen base layers.

Typically the most-viewed shower of the year, the Perseid meteor shower falls on August 13 (Tuesday). Although the Perseids can spit out 100 meteors per hour at their peak, the moon will be nearly full around the same time, so it may drown out many of the fainter meteors. Still, if the skies are clear tonight and tomorrow, you should be able to see a few “shooting stars”, especially after the moon sets in the early morning hours.

Enjoy these five great astronomy photos from our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest, see if there’s an upcoming astronomy program near you, and submit your own amazing astrophotography to the 2019 photo contest!

Starry sky behind an illuminated lighthouse
Night sky and lighthouse © Jason Taylor
Night sky over a beach
Night sky © Bill La Pine
Starry sky over an old jetty on the beach
Night sky © Evan Guarino
A jeep parked on a dirt road by a meadow with a star-filled sky above
Night sky © Bob Levesque
Stars and moon over the beach
Night sky © Ralph Freidin
Monarch Butterfly © Rachel Bellenoit

What To Do This Weekend: Aug 10-11

Listen to music, attend a butterfly festival, look for birds, watch a meteor shower, camp out, go on a treasure hunt, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

Monarch Butterfly © Rachel Bellenoit
Monarch Butterfly © Rachel Bellenoit

Berkshires

Bring a picnic, a blanket, and chairs to Pleasant Valley in Lenox for their Trailside Music Series. This week features the Amy Ryan Band. The event is free but registration is required.

More in the Berkshires

Central Massachusetts

Celebrate butterflies with a day of educational fun for the whole family during the Butterfly Festival at Broad Meadow Brook in Worcester. Enjoy nature walks, workshops, live music, face painting, food, live caterpillar exhibits, a butterfly-friendly plant sale, and more!

Head to Wachusett Meadow in Princeton for Yoga at the Sanctuary. In this outdoor class, connect with your breath, body, mind, and nature with Wachusett Meadow as your backdrop. (adults, registration required)

More in Central Massachusetts

Greater Boston

Bring the kids to Drumlin Farm for Children’s Book Talk and Walk with artist Christie Matheson, author of Bird Watch. Search for the hidden birds in the book and then head outside to see birds at the sanctuary. (registration required)

Spend the morning Volunteering at Boston Nature Center and lend hand with the gardens and invasive plant control!

Learn all about Dragonflies and Butterflies at Broadmoor in Natick during programs geared for adults and families. (registration required)

Explore the wonderous world of Fireflies and Art at the Museum of American Bird Art in Canton! Create firefly-inspired art, enjoy an ice cream sundae, and then set off for a walk in our sanctuary in search of fireflies. (families, registration required)

During Stars, S’mores, and Meteors at Blue Hills Trailside Museum, enjoy the sunset from the top of Chickatawbut Hill in Milton while you toast marshmallows around the campfire and enjoy some celestial stories. (families, registration required)

More in Greater Boston

North Shore

Go on an Owl Prowl Family Campout at Ipswich River in Topsfield. Take part in nature games and hands-on activities, set up your tent, and tell stories after the sun sets. (families, registration required)

Drop in to Joppa Flats in Newburyport 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

Cape Cod

Enjoy an Early Bird Walk at Wellfleet Bay. From pine woodlands and freshwater pond to salt marsh and beach, the sanctuary’s diverse natural communities offer diverse bird sightings. (adults, registration required)

More on Cape Cod and Islands

South of Boston

Allens Pond in South Dartmouth is hosting their annual Duck Derby. Watch the event or enter from afar — you could win a trip anywhere in the world!

Head to Duxbury Beach for a Family Fun Day Compass Treasure Hunt. Learn how to use a compass and search for buried treasure… maybe even talk like a pirate!

More in South of Boston

The Impacts of Climate Change on Shellfish

For many, summertime in New England means fried clams, oysters on the half shell, and lobster rolls. Unfortunately, the increasing threat of climate change means these delicacies may be harder to come by.

In fact clams, mussels, and other shellfish have seen a drastic decline in their populations. Since 1980, shellfish harvest throughout New England has dropped by 85 percent, causing negative impacts to both the environment and the New England shellfish industry.

"2010-07-15_0027" by kapchurus is licensed under CC BY 2.0
“2010-07-15_0027” by kapchurus is licensed under CC BY 2.0 

It’s All About Chemistry

By now you probably know that the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) due to the burning of fossil fuels is driving climate change. What you may not realize is that it’s also changing our ocean’s chemistry, driving a phenomenon known as Ocean Acidification.

Oceans absorb roughly 30% of the CO2 that is released in the atmosphere. While this may seem like a good thing, there’s a catch: when carbon dioxide is absorbed by seawater a series of chemical reactions occur, reducing the pH and causing the seawater to become more acidic.

In turn, this increased acidity reduces the abundance of carbonate ions. Shellfish need carbonate to build their shells. Without it, clams, mussels, and oysters are having a harder time building and repairing their shells. This results in a shorter lifespans and weaker shellfish larvae.

Without Shellfish, Problems Arise

It’s not just missing out on the annual clambake. A loss of shellfish will lead to several serious issues.

An increase of dead zones.

In the absence of filter-feeding shellfish, nutrients start to build-up resulting in an event known as Eutrophication. This begins with the rapid introduction of nutrients to an area, whether that be through fertilizer runoff or the release of waste. Normally shellfish would filter out these nutrients. Without shellfish, algae and bacteria thrive, absorbing the nutrients along with oxygen in the water. No oxygen will lead to a die off of fish and many other aquatic organisms, resulting in a “dead zone.”

The food web will collapse.

Shellfish are considered a keystone species, organisms that an ecosystem depends on in order to function. When shellfish populations decrease, the food web begins to collapse. Species such as the Atlantic cod, salmon, pollock, squid, and coastal waterbirds will lose a primary food source, decimating their populations as well. 

The economy will suffer.

The loss of these species will threaten thousands of New Englanders who rely on shellfish for their livelihoods. With the value of the New England shellfish industry totaling $440 million a year, Massachusetts cannot afford to lose this precious supply.

Keep Oceans Safe for Shellfish

The best way to protect shellfish populations and all the people and organisms that rely on them is to reduce your own carbon footprint. Some ways to do that can be:

By doing any or all of these changes, you will make a huge impact, for people and shellfish.

– Post by Jonathan Dong

Hooded Mergansers (male) © Nathan Goshgarian

Take 5: Hooded Mergansers

Thinking about taking a radical step with your next hairstyle? You could take a cue from the Hooded Merganser, a common but striking duck with an over-the-top (pun intended), fan-shaped, collapsible crest atop their heads. Adult males have bold black-and-white crests while females sport a cinnamon-colored version of the ‘do. Either coloring would certainly set you apart in a crowd!

Awkward on land but graceful in the water, Hooded Mergansers are diving ducks, preferring small ponds, rivers, and wetlands where they can dive for fish, amphibians, mollusks, and crayfish. They use their eyesight to hunt below the water surface and even have an extra set of transparent eyelids that act as a natural pair of “swim goggles” to protect their eyes.

Here are five fantastic photos of Hooded Mergansers from our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. The entries for the 2019 photo contest are rolling in, so submit yours for consideration soon!

Hooded Mergansers (male) © Nathan Goshgarian
Hooded Mergansers (male) © Nathan Goshgarian
Hooded Merganser (male) © Rob Griffith
Hooded Merganser (male) © Rob Griffith
Hooded Merganser (female) © Michael Rossacci
Hooded Merganser (female) © Michael Rossacci
Hooded Merganser (male) © Sandy Murphy
Hooded Merganser (male) © Sandy Murphy
Hooded Merganser (male) © Kim Nagy
Hooded Merganser (male) © Kim Nagy
Twelve-spotted Skimmer dragonfly © Sharon Siter

What To Do This Weekend: Aug 3-4

Learn about dragonflies, look for birds, go for a hike, practice yoga, take a photography class, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

Twelve-spotted Skimmer dragonfly © Sharon Siter
Twelve-spotted Skimmer © Sharon Siter

Cape Cod & Islands

Enjoy an Early Bird Walk at Wellfleet Bay. From pine woodlands and freshwater pond to salt marsh and beach, the sanctuary’s diverse natural communities offer diverse bird sightings. (adults, registration required)

During Examining the Evidence: A Climate Change Walk and Talk at Felix Neck in Edgartown, walk the sanctuary to see areas that have been impacted by climate and weather events. Also see 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)

More on Cape Cod and Islands

South of Boston

Head to Duxbury Beach for a Family Fun Day all about Horseshoe Crabs. Build sand sculptures depicting both this unique creature and its fellow citizens of the beach.

Practice Yoga in the Stone Barn at Allens Pond in South Dartmouth with nothing but the sounds of birds and nature serving as the backdrop to your practice. Taught by a certified instructor from School of Yoga New Bedford, this program is suitable for yogis of all levels. (adults)

Go on a Nature Hike at Tidmarsh in Plymouth. Explore the trails while learning about the history of Tidmarsh, its restoration, and observe first hand how nature is returning. (adults and children ages 6+, registration required)

Attend a free Family Habitat Day at Oak Knoll in Attleboro to look for interesting animals, plants, and see what has visited the sanctuary. (families, registration required)

More in South of Boston

Greater Boston

Take a free Coastal Bird Walk at Belle Isle Marsh to learn more about Boston’s coastal birds. 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)

Go on a Saturday Morning Hike at Moose Hill in Sharon to find out about the changing seasons, local geology, conservation at Moose Hill, and Mass Audubon Quests. (adults and children, registration required)

During Dazzling Dragonflies and Damselflies at Blue Hills Trailside Museum in Milton, investigate native dragonfly and damselfly specimens, hear a story, and make a dragonfly craft. Then go on a short guided hike to look for dragonflies and damselflies. (families, registration required)

Learn how to Tell a Story with Your Images at Broadmoor in Natick. Find out how photojournalists tell their stories through photos using the summer scenery and wildlife at Broadmoor. (adults, registration required)

Head to Boston Nature Center for Go Bats to learn fact from fiction about bats. From the tiny bumblebee bat to the giant flying fox, bats inhabit an amazing variety of ecosystems and are vitally important to the health of the global habitat. (families, registration required)

More in Greater Boston

North Shore

Drop in to Joppa Flats in Newburyport 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

Connecticut River Valley

As part of the Gems of the Valley series with Arcadia, visit Lynes Woods Wildlife Sanctuary in Westhampton. Look for signs of moose and bear while taking a moderate hike to the edge of Lyman Brook and back again. (adults, registration required)

More in the Connecticut River Valley

Berkshires

Celebrate Pleasant Valley’s 90th Anniversary in Lenox. Enjoy a fun-filled day of learning, memories, and a bonfire. Thanks to our sponsors, everyone will enjoy free admission. (some programs require registration)

More in the Berkshires

© Lucy Allen

Take 5: Simply Sunbeams

Incredible wildlife shots and curiously textured mushrooms certainly make for amazing images, but sometimes great nature photography is as simple as capturing an interesting bend of the light.

This week, we are featuring photographs from our Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest that highlight the beauty of “crepuscular rays”, commonly known as sunbeams. This optical phenomenon occurs when sunlight shines through openings in the clouds or forest canopy, creating columns of brightly lit air molecules or particulates. Interestingly, these rays are actually parallel to one another but can appear to radiate outward from the sun’s location in the sky because of linear perspective—the same visual illusion that makes railroad tracks appear to converge in the distance.

Enjoy these five beautiful images and be sure to submit your own gorgeous landscape photography to the photo contest!

© Robin Palazzolo
© Robin Palazzolo
© Lucy Allen
© Lucy Allen
© Kay Ficht
© Kay Ficht
© Chad Parmet
© Chad Parmet
© Rod Parker
© Rod Parker