Category Archives: Get Outdoors

© Sarah O'Connor

An Alternative Spring Break

While some college kids will be heading to the beach during Spring Break, Mass Audubon has teamed up with UMass Boston to offer its conservation-minded students another option.

During the first-ever Alternative Spring Break for Aspiring Environmental Leaders, an idea hatched by TerraCorps member Sam Kefferstan, six students will spend six days getting a “crash course” in Mass Audubon, including our work in conservation science and research, advocacy and community engagement, and education.

© Sarah O’Connor

UMass Boston Connection

UMass Boston’s student population reflects the remarkable diversity of its Boston surrounds, with 57% of the student body being students of color and 56% first generation college students. As part of our commitment to becoming more inclusive and equitable, Mass Audubon partnered with UMass Boston to develop the Environmental Career Pathways Program. As part of this program, Mass Audubon will recruit students to employ in a variety of internships, work-study placements, and summer jobs.

The Alternative Spring Break is just another option to give students exposure to the environmental field through hands-on programming where they will actively participate in on-going conservation projects. This program will also provide professional development and networking to students who may not be able to take summer conservation internships due to financial barriers.

The Itinerary

First up is Nantucket where students will conduct deer density monitoring research at Sesachacha Heathlands Wildlife Sanctuary and water quality monitoring at UMass Boston’s field station.

Following the time on Nantucket the group will head to Drumlin Farm and Mass Audubon’s Headquarters in Lincoln, where students will meet with Mass Audubon’s leadership to determine where their skillset and passions could best be utilized.

Last stop is Wildwood, Mass Audubon’s overnight camp in Rindge, New Hampshire. Here, the students will participate in a Leave No Trace trainer course, in which they’ll learn how to enjoy shared natural spaces while preserving their integrity for future generations as well. The course will conclude with a winter hike up nearby Mount Monadnock where students can put their new skills into action.

The Payoff

Sam’s hope (as well as Mass Audubon’s) is that the students who participate in the Alternative Spring Break will come out of this program as more confident, experienced, and qualified job candidates, leaving them better prepared for future careers in conservation.

What To Do This Weekend: March 9-10

Enjoy a pancake breakfast, learn about maple sugaring, go on a calming nature walk, look for winter birds, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

Sap to Syrup Breakfast at Drumlin Farm

Greater Boston

Head to Drumlin Farm in Lincoln for their annual Sap to Syrup Breakfast on Saturday or Sunday. Enjoy a breakfast of hearty pancakes with real maple syrup and then see how the syrup gets made! (adults and children, registration required)

Tap, collect, and boil down sap from the maple trees during Maple Sugaring at Boston Nature Center. Enjoy a tasty maple treat as well! (adults and children, registration required)

More in Greater Boston

Central Massachusetts

Connect with the natural world in a healing, calming, grounding, and replenishing way through a guided Forest Breathing Walk at Broad Meadow Brook in Worcester. (adults, registration required)

More in Central Massachusetts

North Shore

Attend a Sugaring Off Tour on Saturday or Sunday at Ipswich River in Topsfield. Observe tapping and sap collection methods, watch the sap being boiled down in the sugarhouse, and get a sweet taste of the final product. (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

South of Boston

Look for Winter Ducks at Allens Pond in South Dartmouth as you hike along the beach loop trail. (adults, registration required)

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Cape Cod

Now in its 24th year, the annual Cape Cod Natural History Conference features speakers from environmental organizations across Cape Cod discussing a wide array of natural history topics. (adults, registration required)

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What To Do This Weekend: March 2-3

Go maple sugaring, attend the Birders Meeting, learn how to raise chickens, go birding, look for animal tracks, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

Greater Boston

Get a Behind the Scenes Look at Maple Sugaring at Moose Hill in Sharon Friday night. Try maple syrup, Mead made with our own honey and maple syrup, see our reverse osmosis machine, and get an up close tour of the evaporator in action. (adults, registration required)

As part of Magnificent Mysterious Mammals at Blue Hills Trailside Museum in Milton, have a close encounter mysterious and sometimes misunderstood resident mammals, the Striped Skunk. There will also be a story and a craft. (families, registration required)

Find out how to raise Backyard Chickens at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln. Topics covered in this hands-on workshop include feeding, checking for egg laying, and any other chicken questions that come up. (adults and children ages 12+, registration required)

Winter is a great time to look for signs of animals as they forage for food and shelter at Broadmoor in Natick. During an Adult and Family program, learn to identify the tracks, chews, scat, burrows and other clues left by many creatures including deer, otter, and coyote.

Go Backyard Birding at Boston Nature Center. Learn how to use binoculars, go on a bird hike, and create some seed and fruit art for the birds to enjoy. (families, registration required)

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Central Massachusetts

The Birders Meeting is this Sunday in Worcester and the theme is The Beauty of Birds. Among the speakers: Pulitzer Prize-nominated evolutionary biologist and ornithologist Richard Prum. (registration required)

Go on a Saturday Morning Bird Walk at Broad Meadow Brook in Worcester to discover the immense variety of birdlife as you explore its trails with an expert guide. (adults, registration required)

Connect with the natural world in a healing, calming, grounding, and replenishing way through a guided and gentle Forest Breathing Walk at Wachusett Meadow in Princeton. (adults and children, registration required)

More in Central Massachusetts

North Shore

Attend a Sugaring Off Tour on Saturday or Sunday at Ipswich River in Topsfield. Observe tapping and sap collection methods, watch the sap being boiled down in the sugarhouse, and get a sweet taste of the final product. (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

Connecticut River Valley

Get an Ecological Update at Arcadia in Easthampton and Northampton to find out what Mass Audubon is doing to protect habitat and how local wildlife populations are affected by our efforts. (adults, registration required)

More in the Connecticut River Valley

South of Boston

Head to Oak Knoll for a Family Habitat Day and explore the different habitats found around the sanctuary. Look for interesting animals, plants, and see what has visited the sanctuary. (families, registration required)

Discover the beauty of tree Buds and Bark in the Winter. Guided by local experts learn to identify local trees by their winter characteristics. (adults, registration required)

More in South of Boston

What To Do This Weekend: February 23-24

Go for a nature walk, build a nestbox, look for tracks, learn how to work with wool, tap a maple tree, attend a climate cafe, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

Eastern Bluerbird

Berkshires

During the hands-on Build a Bluebird Nestbox Workshop at Pleasant Valley in Lenox get crafty while finding out where and how to place the boxes in ideal habitats. (adults and children, registration required)

More in the Berkshires

Connecticut River Valley

Get a perfect introduction to nature during a First Child in the Woods Walk at Arcadia in Easthampton/Northampton. This one-hour hike will enable your child or children to gently discover the natural world around them and give you skills to confidently lead explorations of your own. (families, registration required)

More in the Connecticut River Valley

Central Massachusetts

Learn to identify Wildlife Tracks at Wachusett Meadow in Princeton. Get techniques and track and trail patterns while exploring the sanctuary’s diverse habitats. (families, registration required)

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North Shore

The theme of this week’s Sunday Morning Science at Joppa Flats in Newburyport is Papermaking & Nature Journals. Meet live creatures and design something “green.” (children ages 7-11, registration required)

Focus on Seabirds on Cape Ann. Look for many species of sea ducks, loons, grebes, and gulls as they feed and seek shelter in the cape’s many coves, inlets, and protected harbors. (adults, registration required)

More on the North Shore

Greater Boston

During the Wonders of Wool class at Drumlin Farm, get familiar with basic needle felting tools and techniques. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you catch on as you create and personalize a felted creation of your own! (adults and children ages 12+, registration required)

Celebrate Maple Sugaring at Boston Nature Center. Tap, collect, and boil down sap from the Maple trees found at the sanctuary. Enjoy a tasty maple treat as well! (adults and children, registration required)

Head to the Museum of American Bird Art in Canton to view works from young artists, part of the juried Taking Flight Exhibition.

Have fun with Animal Footprints at Broadmoor in Natick by looking for tracks and signs of otters, rabbits, deer, coyote and many other animals. (families, registration required)

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South of Boston

Attend a free Climate Cafe in Middleborough for an informal conversation on climate change and renewable energy sources . Enjoy some drinks and snacks, share your ideas, engage with your fellow community members, and learn how to how to take action! (adults and children, registration required)

Go Birding by Van with a Tutor in Marshfield. Learn the basics to set you up for a lifetime of birding adventures! (adults, registration required)

Enjoy a Family Adventure Day at Tidmarsh in Plymouth. We may read a story, make a craft, or sing songs but we will always explore the outdoors and have fun! (families, registration required)

More in South of Boston

Red Fox Pups © Janet MacCausland

What To Do This Weekend: Feb 16-17

Look for wildlife after dark, go on a nature walk, learn about animal tracks, see a nature documentary, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

Red Fox Pups © Janet MacCausland
Red Fox Pups © Janet MacCausland

Greater Boston

Head to Broadmoor in Natick for a Full Moon Family Owl Prowl to search and listen for our resident Screech, Barred and Great Horned Owls. (families, registration required)

Travel with Trailside Director and raptor researcher Norman Smith to several Massachusetts locations in search of Winter Raptors. (adults, registration required)

Take a Naturalist Walk at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln to explore the sanctuary’s different habitats. (adults and children ages 12+)

Go on a Winter Nature Walk at Boston Nature Center to observe the tracks left by animals and spot birds in their wintering plumage. (families, registration required)

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South of Boston

Once dusk has settled take a Snow Moon Hike at Tidmarsh in Plymouth. Stop, look, and listen for creatures that awaken with the setting of the sun. (adults and children ages 10+, registration required)

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Cape Cod

Watch the PBS Nature film Fox Tales In Wellfleet for an intimate views of red foxes’ lives–from inside a den with fox kits; young foxes wrestling for dominance; and even the view from inside a garbage can as a fox makes a raid. (tickets required)

More on the Cape & Islands

North Shore

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

Central Massachusetts

During the Nature of Your Backyard at Broad Meadow Brook in Worcester, meet some common animals such as a fisher, skunk, turtle, fox, or even a flying squirrel. (families, registration required)

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Connecticut River Valley

Go on a Winter Nature Walk for Families at Arcadia in Easthampton and Northampton to look for animal tracks and signs and play a few games to learn about winter wildlife survival. (families, registration required)

During Tracking and Animal Signs at Laughing Brook in Hampden learn to read the tracks and signs left by animals that live in our area. (families, registration required)

More in the Connecticut River Valley

Berkshires

Strap on snowshoes (or microspikes, depending upon conditions) and enjoy a Snowshoe Hike at Pleasant Valley in Lenox. Track wildlife and watch for animal activity around ponds, streams, meadows, and woodlands. (adults, registration required)

More in the Berkshires

What To Do This Weekend: Feb 2-3

Look for tracks, hike a mountain, go on an owl prowl, make a fairy house, build a birdhouse, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

Eastern Bluebird

Berkshires

Understand Animal Tracks and Signs at Canoe Meadows in Pittsfield. Discover new whodunit mysteries that take place out in nature while we’re typically warm inside our homes. (adults and children ages 8+. registration required)

Strap on snowshoes (or microspikes, depending upon conditions) and Hike to the Summit of Lenox Mountain. Track wildlife, identify trees by their bark, and take in a 50-mile view (on a clear day) from the top. (adults, registration required)

More in the Berkshires

Connecticut River Valley

Learn the basics of tracking and what wildlife does in winter during Tracking Family Fun at Arcadia in Easthampton and Northampton. Start inside learning what to observe while tracking, and then go outdoors to find tracks in forest and field. (families, registration required)

More in the Connecticut River Valley

Central Massachusetts

As part of Winter Tracking and Ecology at Broad Meadow Brook in Worcester walk with our expert guide to uncover and understand stories in the snow, and warm up afterwards with hot coffee and cocoa. (adults, registration required)

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North Shore

Take part in a Youth Outdoor Shelter Survival Challenge at Ipswich River in Topsfield. Look at real examples of animal homes, learn some different shelter types, discuss shelter safety, and make our own full-size shelters. (children ages 9-14, 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

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

Take part in Backyard Sugaring at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln. Find out everything that you need to know—tree identification, required equipment, tapping, weather, boiling, finishing, and storing—to get started on this sweet project. (adults, registration required)

Bring your outdoor photography skills to the next level during a Winter Photography Workshop at the Boston Nature Center. Topics include equipment as well as exposure, lighting, and composition techniques. (adults, registration required)

Build a Backyard Birdhouse at Stony Brook in Norfolk. identify the housing needs of several species of birds and then build a birdhouse to take it home. (families, registration required)

More in Greater Boston

South of Boston

Seek out resident screech and great horned owls, explore some owl adaptations, and work up your appetite as part of Owls and Omelets at North River in Marshfield. After the early morning prowl, head indoors for a full breakfast. (adults, registration required)

Go on an Owl Prowl Adventure at Tidmarsh in Plymouth to stop, look, and listen for “whooooo” might be out there! (adults and children ages 14+, registration required)

During a Fairy House Workshop at Oak Knoll in Attleboro, hike to learn about the legends of the fairies and trolls that live at the sanctuary, Then build your very own fairy house back at the nature center. (adults and children, registration required)

More in South of Boston

What is Nature Camp? And Why Should You Try It?

It is summer camp registration season, and that means it’s decision time! Summer is an ideal time for children to be outside, but choosing between camp opportunities can be overwhelming. How do you pick between dozens of options? And why should you consider nature camp?

Photo: Phil Doyle

Why Nature Camp

According to studies done by Common Sense Media in 2017, children ages 4–8 spend three hours per day in front of a screen (outside of school), and that number climbs to over six hours once they reach teenage years. Our camp community is designed to turn that trend on its head and create a new, happy generation of nature enthusiasts who are comfortable in nature and just as excited to share it with others as we are.

Mass Audubon campers laugh, sing, play, and do all of the wacky, fun activities that make summer camp special, and they experience hands-on learning in nature. Exploration and discovery fuel our programming, because campers are curious. Camp activities include things like carefully rolling logs in search of salamanders, dipping nets into ponds to catch water bugs, paddling Massachusetts’ rivers and estuaries, exploring salt marshes for crabs and eels, and tagging butterflies in meadows.

Why You Should Try It

We believe giving campers the opportunity to learn about their surroundings creates better outdoorspeople, community members, and future environmentalists. Additionally, it teaches campers valuable skills like creativity, observation, and self-confidence while giving them opportunities to move and play in both structured and unstructured ways that stimulate mental and social growth.

Our unique and wonderful summer staff help make this possible. We hire counselors who have experience working with children and a passion for sharing their knowledge of the outdoors. Some counselors join us for specific programs based on their area of knowledge in order to deliver the best possible program for our campers. Paddling instructors, nature photographers, birding experts, professional artists, and others enrich the camp experience.

Many campers become Counselors-in-Training (CITs) as teens and eventually staff. Some even go on to be leaders in the environmental and education fields.

Find a Camp Near You!

Mass Audubon offers 20 different camp experiences, from day camps for four-year-olds, to overnight camp for children in elementary and middle school, to teen travel and adventure opportunities—all focused on connecting your child with nature.

Come for a summer experience filled with all the magic and wonder of traditional day camp, and stay for the wildlife, exploration, and new friends. Laugh, love, and learn something new at a Mass Audubon camp this summer!

— Zach D’Arbeloff, Drumlin Farm’s Assistant Camp Director

Great horned owl © Phil Sorrentino

What To Do This Weekend: Jan 26-27

Go birding, make sourdough bread, search for owls, take a nature walk, look for animal tracks, talk about climate change, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

Great horned owl © Phil Sorrentino
Great horned owl © Phil Sorrentino

North Shore

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, registration required)

See live birds of prey up close during Wingmasters Birds of Prey. This is a fantastic opportunity to see birds such as the Peregrine Falcon, American Kestrel, Red-tailed Hawk, Saw-whet Owl, Barn Owl, Barred Owl, Great Horned Owl, and Eastern Screech-owl. (adults and children, registration required)

More on the North Shore

Greater Boston

Learn the age-old tradition of Sourdough Bread Making in this hands-on workshop. Mix, knead, and shape loaves to taste and take home. (adults and children ages 12+, registration required)

Take a Winter Nature Walk at Boston Nature Center. Along the way, learn about tracks, birds, winter animals, trees in winter, or whatever sparks our interest on the trail! (families, registration required)

Explore the world of owls on a Family Owl Prowl at the Blue Hills Trailside Museum in Milton. Discover unique adaptations of owls, practice owl calls, and meet some of the museum’s resident owls before going on a night hike. (families, registration required)

During Tracks and Traces at Moose Hill in Sharon get to know the basics of animal track patterns and then head outside to look for evidence of our resident winter wildlife. (families, registration required)

Enjoy a guided Sunday Stroll at Stony Brook in Norfolk to look for any interesting and unusual sights at the sanctuary. (adults, registration required)

More in Greater Boston

South of Boston

Take to the trails and discover something new about nature during a Family Adventure Day at Tidmarsh in Plymouth. We may read a story, make a craft, or sing songs but we will always explore the outdoors and have fun! (families, registration required)

Once dusk has settled over the marsh let the moon light your way on a Twilight Walk at Tidmarsh. Stop, look, and listen for creatures that awaken with the setting of the sun. (adults and children ages 8+, registration required)

More in South of Boston

Cape and Islands

Discover the tranquility of Wellfleet Bay in winter on a naturalist-guided Winter Walk. Search for winter waterfowl and other birdlife, tracks and traces of wildlife, and whatever else crosses our path. (adults, registration required)

Attend a Climate Cafe on Martha’s Vineyard. Drink coffee and take part in community conversations about local environmental issues and climate related topics at different island businesses. (adults and children ages 10+)

More on Cape Cod

Central Massachcusetts

Go on a Family Owl Prowl at Wachusett Meadow in Princeton. Learn all about owls in an indoor introduction, followed by a short hike to listen for owls or other nighttime wildlife. (families, registration required)

More in Central Massachusetts

Berkshires

Strap on snowshoes (or microspikes, depending upon conditions) and Hike Pleasant Valley in Lenox. Track wildlife and watch for animal activity around ponds, streams, meadows, and woodlands. (adults, registration required)

Understand Animal Tracks and Signs at Lime Kiln Farm in Sheffield. Discover new whodunit mysteries that take place out in nature while we’re typically warm inside our homes. (adults and children ages 8+. registration required)

More in the Berkshires

Bald Eagle c Dominic Poliseno

What To Do This Weekend: Jan 19-20

Before the snow comes, learn how to ID trees in winter, practice yoga, search for eagles and owls, look for animal tracks, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

Bald Eagle c Dominic Poliseno
Bald Eagle © Dominic Poliseno

Greater Boston

As part of Winter Tree Identification at Boston Nature Center, learn identification techniques. and how trees survive harsh winter conditions. Inside, warm up while making sap and leaf comparisons. (adults registration required)

Experience Yoga and Mindfulness in Nature at Habitat in Belmont. After a 45-minute slow and gentle yoga class indoors, head outside to explore the trails. (adults, registration required)

Go on a Naturalist Walk at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln to explore the habitats at the sanctuary. (adults and children ages 12+)

Get the Most Out of Your Digital Camera at Broadmoor in Natick. This workshop will cover optical and digital zoom, white balance, ISO, resolution, proper lighting, focus, depth of field and composition. (adults, registration required)

More in Greater Boston

North Shore

Focus on Merrimack River Birds with Joppa Flats and look for loons, grebes, gulls, and many species of diving ducks flock to this area. (adults, registration required)

More on the North Shore

Central Massachusetts

Go on an Owl Prowl at Broad Meadow Brook in Worcester to practice owl calls while searching the sanctuary trails for these creatures of the night. End the evening indoors with hot chocolate and games. (families, registration required)

Connecticut River Valley

See a shadow puppet presentation of Jane Yolen’s classic book Owl Moon at Arcadia in Easthampton and Northampton. After the show, we’ll take a walk in the dark, brisk winter woods to call for owls. (families, registration required)

During Tracking and Animal Signs at Laughing Brook in Hampden, learn to read the tracks and signs left by animals that live in our area. (families, registration required)

Discover Bald Eagles at Arcadia with a presentation on the life history of eagles and the eagle restoration project. Then head outside to search for these magnificent birds. (adults, registration required)

More in the Connecticut River Valley

South of Boston

Join in on a Fairy House Workshop at Oak Knoll in Attleboro to learn about the legends of the fairies and trolls that live at Oak Knoll. After a hike, head back to the Nature Center to build your very own fairy house. (all ages, registration required)

More in South of Boston

Cape Cod and Islands

Explore the beaches, dunes, and waters of the Outer Cape In Search of Winter Birds including snow buntings, horned larks, sea ducks, loons, and snowy owls. (adults, registration required)

More on Cape Cod

What To Do This Weekend: Jan 12-13

Go on a winter hike, search for birds by day and owls by night, look for animal tracks, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

Red-breasted Nuthatch © Richard Alvarnaz

Greater Boston

As part of Survive Winter: Coping Strategies for Your Happiest, Healthiest Self at Blue Hills Trailside Museum in Milton, go on a hike that ends with a thoughtful, meditative silence and then move indoors for a session of restorative, gentle yoga. (adults, registration required)

Go on an Owl Prowl Adventure for Families or Adults at Broadmoor in Natick to walk through fields and forests under moon and starlight listening for our resident screech, barred and great horned owls. (registration required)

Enjoy a Family Bird Walk at Boston Nature Center to search for the most common birds found in Boston! Mini-activities along the hike will include singing like a bird, a bird food hunt, and a closer look at feathers, nests, and other bird related artifacts. (families, registration required)

Bird Away the Winter Blues at Mount Auburn Cemetery. Look for winter residents and some surprises like possible yellow-bellied sapsucker and red-breasted nuthatch on this peaceful walk. (adults, registration required)

More in Greater Boston

North Shore

Take a Plant and Animal Adaptation Hike at Ipswich River in Topsfield. Stop along the way to identify mammal tracks, watch birds puff up their down feathers for insulation, and marvel over tree buds. (adults, registration required)

Meet Backyard Birds at Joppa Flats in Newburyport. Bird Banding Station Manager Ben Flemer presents demonstrations on bird research and banding. You’ll learn about your own backyard birds and why they’re here while watching scientific research in action.

More on the North Shore

Connecticut River Valley

Celebrate Arcadia’s 75th Birthday with cake, wish making art, and an engaging talk about the wildlife sanctuary’s history. (all ages, registration required)

More in the Connecticut River Valley

South of Boston

Go on an armchair travel adventure during Desserts and Destinations: Brazil, Birding the Southern States at North River in Marshfield. Through photos and stories, experience the almost 500 species of birds, mammals, flowers and butterflies they encountered. (adults, registration required)

More in South of Boston

Cape Cod

Enjoy a Winter Walk at Wellfleet Bay. Discover the tranquility of the sanctuary while searching for winter waterfowl and other birdlife, tracks and traces of wildlife, and whatever else crosses our path.

More on Cape Cod