Author Archives: Ryan D.

About Ryan D.

Where: Mass Audubon Headquarters, Lincoln | Who: A Vermont girl with maple sap in her veins | Favorite part of the job: Exploring sanctuaries with camera in hand.

Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar © Sean Horton

Take 5: Monarch Caterpillars

As summer draws to a close and the days get shorter, the season’s last generation of Monarch caterpillars are busily munching away at their favorite food: milkweed. This final calorie-binge will sustain them as they “pupate,” ensconcing themselves in a chrysalis to spend 8–14 days metamorphosing into their adult butterfly form. The adult butterflies that hatch this month will fly south to Mexico for the winter where the weather is nice and warm.

Monarch butterflies are a beautiful and easily recognizable member of our ecological community here in Massachusetts, but since the larval caterpillars are working so hard, we thought it would be nice to celebrate them with five photos from our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest.

You can look for chrysalides in various stages of metamorphosis on the undersides of milkweed leaves over the next few weeks, but be careful! It’s best to leave the pupa to its work without disturbing it. Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary in South Dartmouth and Westport leads Monarch Butterfly Tagging programs, so stop by if you’re in the area and want to learn more about these amazing insects.

The 2018 photo contest is closing soon! Submit your nature and wildlife photography by September 30 to be considered for one of several prizes.

Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar © Emily Curewitz

Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar © Emily Curewitz

Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar © Ken Conway

Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar © Ken Conway

Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar © John Linn

Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar © John Linn

Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar © Keegan Burke

Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar © Keegan Burke

Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar © Sean Horton

Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar © Sean Horton

Take 5: Nature Kids

Here at Mass Audubon, we’re all about growing, nurturing, and inspiring nature heroes at every age but we think kids are particularly inspiring. Their unencumbered curiosity for everything they find, their joyful exuberance for exploring the outdoors, and—perhaps most importantly—their innate gift for imagining an ideal world unencumbered by cynicism or limitations make them uniquely qualified to be nature heroes, leading the charge and inspiring us all to make a lasting, positive impact on the natural world.

To celebrate our smallest-but-mightiest nature heroes, here are five photos of kids doing what they do best: reveling in the wonder and beauty of nature. We have an entire category dedicated to People in Nature in our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. The deadline for this year’s contest is September 30, so don’t delay—submit your beautiful nature photography today!

© Debra Bolduc

© Debra Bolduc

© Lisa Roberts

© Lisa Roberts

© Carolynne Bailey

© Carolynne Bailey

© Mark Lotterhand

© Mark Lotterhand

© Lorraine Jackson

© Lorraine Jackson

© James Duffy

Take 5: Seal of Approval

Brace yourself. Serious cuteness incoming.

Seals are a “fan favorite” for wildlife lovers and coastal tourists due in large part to their often playful, expressive nature and adorable fuzziness. Year-round, visitors to the coastal parts of Massachusetts can spot our “resident” Harbor and Gray seals fairly easily. If you’re really lucky you may spy a rarer species such as Harp or Hooded seals although they tend to stay farther north near the pack ice they depend on for pupping. Interestingly, you will not find any sea lions here. Sea lions belong to a different taxonomic family than “true” seals and are not found on the east coast of the United States.

If you’re eager to spot one, many of our coastal wildlife sanctuaries host programs where you can look for and observe seals but here are five cute photos of seals for you to enjoy in the meantime, submitted to our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. The 2018 photo contest is only open until September 30, so submit your great wildlife and nature photography today!

© Paulina Zuckerman

© Paulina Zuckerman

© Kim Barillot

© Kim Barillot

© Terri Nickerson

© Terri Nickerson

© James Duffy

© James Duffy

© Samantha Ferguson

© Samantha Ferguson

Long Pasture © Robert Allen

Take 5: Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary

For a lot of Massachusetts folks, summer is synonymous with the Cape. Families and friends have been flocking to the shores of Cape Cod every summer for generations. If this sounds like you, you don’t want to miss out on visiting Mass Audubon’s Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary in Barnstable.

Sandy beaches, butterfly-filled meadows, woodland trails, and farm animals combine to make Long Pasture a unique experience. Gentle, varied trails lead to what some have called a “million dollar view”—with Barnstable Harbor flanked by the dunes of Sandy Neck Barrier Beach. Explore the expansive tidal flats or sign up for a kayak tour, boat cruise, or family nature program.

Whether or not you make it down to the Cape this summer, enjoy these five photos taken at Long Pasture and submitted to our Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. The 2018 photo contest is open until September 30, so be sure to submit your beautiful nature photography soon!

Long Pasture © Hong Ren Wang

Long Pasture © Hong Ren Wang

Monarch Butterfly at Long Pasture © Matthew Magann

Monarch Butterfly at Long Pasture © Matthew Magann

Long Pasture © Frances Strawn

Long Pasture © Frances Strawn

Long Pasture © Robert Allen

Long Pasture © Robert Allen

Horseshoe Crabs at Long Pasture © Gregory Malloy

Horseshoe Crabs at Long Pasture © Gregory Malloy

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

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

 

© 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

© Alyssa Waterman

What To Do This Weekend: July 21-22

Go for a leisurely canoe, enjoy a live outdoor concert, join a family fun day at the beach, practice yoga, paint wildflowers in watercolor, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

© Alyssa Waterman

© Alyssa Waterman

Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard

Explore Sampsons Island by Kayak to paddle past protected nesting habitat for least terns, piping plovers, and common terns. You’ll learn about Mass Audubon’s Coastal Water Bird program’s work to protect these important habitats. (adults, registration required)

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)

More in Cape Cod and the Islands

South of Boston

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)

Construct some simple homemade bathyscopes (a viewfinder for underwater exploration) and ply the shallows in search of intertidal life with North River Wildlife Sanctuary staff at the 2018 Family Fun Day at Duxbury Beach.

More South of Boston

Greater Boston

Join us for a leisurely Summer Morning Canoe on the Charles at Broadmoor in Natick. Listen to bird songs and watch for Great Blue Herons, turtles, and dragonflies as you paddle during the quiet hours. (adults, registration required)

Start your Saturday morning off right with a fun and knowledgeable Stony Brook teacher on the trails learning about nature with their Tiny Trekkers program.

Bring a picnic dinner, blankets, and chairs to Drumlin Farm on Friday night for part two of their Summer Music Series. Enjoy farm-fresh snacks, sweets, and non-alcoholic beverages as you listen to the dulcet tones of local band Lula Wiles. (all ages, purchase tickets in advance online or at the ticket window the day of)

For younger children (ages 0-3), Boston Nature Center has a morning Nature Story Hour that includes a short walk around the trails to learn about the resident animals and plants that call the BNC home. Older kids (ages 4-18) can stretch their legs and their minds on an afternoon Nature Walk through the forests, meadows, and seasonal wetlands.

More in Greater Boston

North Shore

Meet Beach Creatures at Joppa Flats’s 110-gallon tide pool touch tank. Drop in before the beach, after the beach, or instead of the beach! (families)

Discover summertime wildflowers as you walk through their natural habitats, then return to Joppa Flats to sketch what you found, then paint them with watercolors, all part of the Wildflowers & Watercolors program. (adults, registration required)

More on the North Shore

Central Massachusetts

If you are between the ages of three and five, bring your favorite adult to Broad Meadow Brook’s Preschool Story Hour, including a reading of Denise Fleming’s Beetle Bop, an activity, and a naturalist-led walk. (families, children ages 3-5, registration required)

More in Central Massachusetts

Connecticut River Valley

Explore Laughing Brook Wildlife Sanctuary to see and hear some of the many Insects of the Field and Forest that live there. Watch as a bee pollinates a flower, see how many different types of butterflies you can count, and learn what lives within all that white spittle on the field plants. (families, children ages 5-12, registration required)

More in the Connecticut River Valley

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)

More in the Berkshires

Female Northern Flicker © Gates Dupont

Take 5: Northern Flickers

Spotting a Northern Flicker can be truly spectacular. Vocal and conspicuous, flickers may be the most obvious woodpecker in the state of Massachusetts. They don’t visit bird feeders as frequently as their ubiquitous cousins, Downy Woodpeckers, but you may spot one in your backyard or at your birdbath, especially if your yard abuts a wooded area with a mix of trees and open ground. Unlike other woodpeckers, they often feed on the ground, even mixing together with flocks of ground-feeding songbirds, such as robins. Wherever you see one, this handsome bird certainly has unique plumage.

Their tan-brown bodies are patterned with black scalloping or spots, appearing almost polka dotted from a distance. In the East, the undersides of their wing and tail feathers are bright yellow (their Western counterparts have red flight feathers but you won’t see them around here). If you startle one from the ground, you may see a flash of white on its rump. They have a black bib across their breasts, a grey cap with a red nape, and the males sport black “mustache” markings beside their beaks.

These five photos of Northern Flickers were all submitted to our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. The 2018 contest is open now, so submit your spectacular wildlife and nature photography before the deadline of September 30.

Female Northern Flicker © Cheryl Rose

Female Northern Flicker © Cheryl Rose

Male Northern Flicker © Lee Millet

Male Northern Flicker © Lee Millet

Male Northern Flickers © Ken & Judy Proulx

Male Northern Flickers © Ken & Judy Proulx

Male Northern Flicker © Paul Flanders

Male Northern Flicker © Paul Flanders

Female Northern Flicker © Gates Dupont

Female Northern Flicker © Gates Dupont

Beach Scene © Jim McIntyre

Take 5: Beautiful Beach Sunsets

July is here…and it’s HOT! Lots of folks like to cool off by heading to the beach when summer temperatures soar. With “beach season” now in full swing, here are five gorgeous beach sunsets (or sunrises) to get you geared up for that beach life.

These photos were all submitted to our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. Do you have a beautiful landscape photo you’d like to share? The 2018 contest is open now, so submit your nature photographs today!

Beach Scene © Kimberly Nyce

Beach Scene © Kimberly Nyce

Beach Scene © Alison Borrelli

Beach Scene © Alison Borrelli

Beach Scene © Sylvia Zarco

Beach Scene © Sylvia Zarco

Beach Scene © Emily Zollo

Beach Scene © Emily Zollo

Beach Scene © Jim McIntyre

Beach Scene © Jim McIntyre