December 31, 2010

GMNWR Autumn Walks Wrap-up

Common threeseed mercury (Acalypha rhomboidea)
In October, our monthly walk explored the floodplain forest, wizened by the summer's long drought.  The identity of two vigorous and unfamiliar plants with lingering blooms puzzled us.  Three-seeded mercury and climbing hempvine (Mikania scandens) found enough moisture by the river's edge to flourish.

Leaf miner trails
Wild cucumber fruit cross-section
Numerous mushrooms, including the beauties shown above, grew from still moist and rotting logs.  Leaf miners left their calligraphy on the forest understory.  And the loofa-like fruits of wild cucumber vines fascinated everyone.

November walkers encountered several mysteries, some of which have since been solved...a deer scrape, the still robust leaves of rough avens, an inexplicably large wad of cattail fluff resting in the shoreline shrubbery, muskrat strewings, and a Canada goose egg!  Our walk ended in a celebratory gathering with refuge staff on the new observation deck.

And in December, we explored all of the beaverworks at Great Meadows....
December in the beaver yard

December 24, 2010

Season's Blessings

Last embers of 2010
As this year circles to the next, I want to thank all of you who have walked with us and shared your revelations, wisdom and love for our beautiful wild places...by river, bog, forest and field.  May you find the light that burns, sparkles, and reflects in these darker days and let it dazzle you!

Thanks to walker Anne Whitaker for letting me share her serendipitously ember-like image of a Great Meadows sunset taken on our December walk.

December 8, 2010

Beaver Works and Sunset Walk, Sat., Dec. 11, 2-4 pm

Active beaver lodge on the Concord River
Over the last few years, the beaver have been active at Great Meadows.  Three very different lodges, tunnels, tracks, and many a gnawed tree offer testimony to their eager engineering.  Join us for an exploration of these beaverworks and discover the many creatures and colors that come alive as the sn goes down.  Dress warmly!

No pre-registration required.  A voluntary donation of $5/person will be gratefully accepted.

Led by Cherrie Corey, local naturalist and photographer

Co-sponsored by the Friends of the Assabet River NWR

Meet at Great Meadows NWR in Concord, MA.
(Monson Road, off Rte. 62, turn left where road turns right)

November 18, 2010

Great Meadows Walk: Sat., December 4, 10 - noon

A continuing series of monthly walks exploring the landscape, plants, and seasonal wonders of Great Meadows NWR.

November light and shadows, open vistas, last stirrings, and first crystalline etchings on the landscape...we'll walk the trails to look for ephemeral signs of the earth's readying for her long winter's nap.

No pre-registration required.  A voluntary donation of $5/person will be gratefully accepted.

Led by Cherrie Corey, local naturalist and photographer
Co-sponsored by Musketaquid Arts and Environment and Friends of the Assabet River NWR

Meet at Great Meadows NWR in Concord MA.  
(Monsen Road, off Rte. 62, turn left where road turns right)

November 14, 2010

Gossamer and Light


To quote Thoreau, yesterday was a "gossamer day." From every weed and floating seed, to every branchlet, grass and sedge, fine silken lines filled the air at Great Meadows. Thin, bouncing waves of light spun by tiny spiders that seem to skitter and blow from one anchor point to another. Says Thoreau, "Methinks it is only on these very finest days late in autumn that this phenomenon is seen, as if the fine vapor of the morning were spun into these webs." The Germans, he said, called this fall rite "Der fliegender Sommer", the flying or departing summer and he puzzled about why the spiders appeared to empty themselves just before winter's arrival.  Thanks to Alan Bragg for pointing me to Thoreau's Oct. 31, 1953 Journal entry.

In the midst of honoring darkness and the daily rush toward night, I'd forgotten how exquisite light becomes during the dark months of the year.  It's the angle or reflection of light that catches our attention now -- in the illumined roots and branches of the forest...

in a bright feather come to rest, in foxtail grass, or in the glow of the landscape whitened with the flocking of cattail seeds blowing and clinging everywhere.


November 12, 2010

History of the Night - A Far Cry Orchestra


JP Concerts presents: A Far Cry, the self-conducted, cooperatively directed string orchestra described by the Boston Globe as "thrilling, "brilliant," and "intrepid," in the second concert of its fourth season, themed "History of the Night." During the course of this season, the group will explore the concept of night, as reflected in both traditionally nocturnal works and more standard repertoire. 

Seasons in Orbit

* Part: Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten
* Elgar: Serenade for Strings
* Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 3
* Piazzolla: Las Cuatro Estaciones Portenas for Guitar, Bandoneon, and Strings
*Kernis: Musica Celestis

A Far Cry in Jamaica Plain | Buy Tickets!
December 18 2010 4pm
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Jamaica Plain MA

A Far Cry at the Gardner Museum | Buy Tickets!
December 19 2010 1:30pm
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston MA

November 11, 2010

Blazing Edge of Night

The long, gray nor'easter pushes away this evening leaving a blaze of color in its wake.  Watching the treetops ignite from my kitchen window, I hurry over to Great Meadows to be with the burst of light and flight that comes just before dark.  It moves quickly.  Gold and flushes of rose give way to fiery orange and deepening shadows, all dancing on a canvas of streaming clouds.  As the day releases its last flush, the sky fills with wave upon wave of geese and ducks coming in for the night.  And I am left content in the darkness with the wooshing sound of their descending flight and the settling murmur of their voices.

November 6, 2010

Entering the Darkness

Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) afterglow at sunset
The afterglow of a female winterberry is a welcome sight on November evenings as we begin our descent into winter's darker days.  Winterberries, a member of the Holly family, inhabit bottomlands, swamps, and bogs in the Concord area.  Watch for the added touch of color as bluebirds and robins dine on these berries in the late fall and early winter months.

Tiny Bird with a Regal Name

Ruby-crowned kinglet (female or juvenile)
This little bird caught my attention on the Dike Trail while fluttering about between a European spindletree and my head. He was so close that it was hard to get a focused shot and clear identification. Ruby-crowned kinglets pass through during migration and are not seen in as much abundance as their Golden-crowned counterparts.

October 30, 2010

Great Meadows Walk: Saturday, Nov. 6, 1-3 pm

New observation platform at Great Meadows NWR
A continuing series of monthly walks exploring the landscape, plants, and seasonal wonders of Great Meadows NWR.

We'll focus on the season's turning point, when luscious swaths of color and liveliness yield to muted tones and subtler stirrings.  It's a time to shift perception as we welcome in the November landscape.  At 2:30 we'll circle back to the new observation deck for a celebratory gathering and refreshments.

No pre-registration required.  A voluntary donation of $5/person will be gratefully accepted.

Led by Cherrie Corey, local naturalist and photographer
Co-sponsored by Musketaquid Arts and Environment and Friends of the Assabet River NWR

Meet at Great Meadows NWR in Concord MA.  
(Monsen Road, off Rte. 62, turn left where road turns right)
  

October 17, 2010

New Visitor's Center Opens Oct. 17 - Assabet River NWR


The new Visitor's Center for the eastern Massachusetts division of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife's refuge division opens Oct. 17 at the Assabet River NWR.  Programming, refreshments, and opportunity to tour the center and its new exhibits will continue throughout the day.  Read more about the Center and plans for its future programs and resources at http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2010/10/07/visitors_center_to_open_at_assabet_river_national_wildlife_refuge_in_sudbury/.

Dining on Dogwood

Dogwood Sawfly larva (Macremphytus testaceus)
Earlier this month, I received several inquiries about these white "caterpillars" who appeared to be decimating some of the swamp (or silky) dogwood shrubs at Great Meadows NWR/Concord.  Checking in with Sam Jaffe, he advised that these are the larvae of the Dogwood sawfly.  Adult females can lay up to 100 eggs on the underside of a single leaf, so it's no surprise that an entire shrub's foliage can be consumed in fairly short order.

September 19, 2010

Great Meadows Walk: Sunday, October 3, 9-11 a.m.

Lotus leaf reflections
A continuing series of monthly walks exploring the landscape, plants, and seasonal wonders of Great Meadows NWR in Concord.

Cooler days bring welcome color to the landscape after an unusual stretch of flooding, heat, and drought.  We'll enjoy the autumn palette, seed bursts, and wild encounters togetheras we explore the dike trail and floodplain forest.

 No pre-registration required.  A $5 voluntary contribution will be gratefully accepted.
Led by Cherrie Corey, local naturalist and photographer
Co-sponsored by Musketaquid Arts and Environment Program 
and Friends of the Assabet River NWR
Meet at Great Meadows NWR in Concord, MA
(Monson Road, off Rte. 62, turn left where road curves right)
For questions, email cherrie.corey@verizon.net or call 978-760-1933

 

September 18, 2010

September Bounty - Grapes, Smartweeds, and Other Surprises

Ripened fox grapes
Even after drought and floods, never underestimate the gifts and surprises that wild places have to offer.  Our September walk at Great Meadows NWR had many.   Thanks to those who joined me for their curiosity and revelations.

The musky, sweet aroma of ripening Fox grapes perfumed shady stretches of the Dike Trail where large fruit clusters hung overhead in the shadows.  The dryness has made them extra flavorful this year.  These are a seasonal clue for our next surprise encounter with...Cut-leaved Grape ferns with ripened spores.  I haven't seen Grape ferns in many years.  Veteran walker, Steve Tobin, spotted these growing amidst moss covered roots of a large silver maple tree.
Cut-leaved grape fern, fertile and infertile fronds
The ever-present and perplexing smartweeds (Polygonaceae family) raised many questions.  Why are they "smart?"  It's their chemistry.  Their peppery leaves can make the skin and mouth smart, warding off some foragers.  Great Meadows has a variety of smartweeds and their relatives, challenging for many to identify.  Here's a sampling...
Water-pepper (Persicaria hydropiper)
Pennsylvania and Nodding smartweeds (Persicaria pensylvanica and P. maculosa)

 Lady's Thumb (Persicaria maculosa)

September 7, 2010

Great Meadows Walk: Sept 12 from 8-10 a.m.

New observation platform under construction
The seeds of change have come to Great Meadows.  New vistas have opened with the construction of an observation platform.  Late blooming fall flowers and seeds of every description herald autumn's transformations.  We'll take a lively walk to the Borden Ponds and back to catch all the changes.

Delicate downy swamp milkweed pod and seeds
No pre-registration required.  A $5/person voluntary donation will be gratefully accepted. 

Co-sponsored by Musketaquid Arts and Environment Program and Friends of Assabet River NWR

Meet at Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Concord, MA.  For questions, email cherrie.corey@verizon.net or call 978-760-1933

August 27, 2010

You'll Never Walk Alone - Caterpillar Encounters at Great Meadows

Thanks to Sam Jaffe's guiding eye on our August 21st walk at Great Meadows, we discovered many caterpillars munching away at the foliage all around us.  Humbling to realize how much life teams around us as we take each step.  Here are some highlights...

Harvester butterfly caterpillars (Feniseca tarquinius) dining on wooly aphids (white) on alder branches
American dagger moth (Acronicta americana) feeding on maple in the GM parking lot
Silver-spotted skipper (Epargyreus clarus) eating showy tick-trefoil leaves in parking lotion
Spicebush swallowtail (Papilio troilus) caterpillar wrapped in a sassafras leaf
Spicebush swallowtail, large 4th instar, bird dropping mimic
Yellow-shouldered slug caterpillar (Lithacodes fasciola)
Four-horned sphinx (Ceratomia amyntor) on elm
Waved sphinx (Ceratomia undulosa) on ash
Sam Jaffe, with a Spicebush swallowtail caterpillar, telling us stories about these marvelously transformational creatures.

August 11, 2010

Great Meadows Walk: Aug 21 from 8-10 am

Pandora sphinx caterpillar

WILD PLANTS AND THE CATERPILLARS THAT EAT THEM

Join Cherrie Corey and Sam Jaffe to commune with late summer flora and the caterpillars that dine on this buffet. And bring your binoculars for both bird and caterpillar watching.

A $5/person voluntary donation would be gratefully accepted.   Co-sponsored by Musketaquid Arts and Environment and Friends of Assabet River NWR

Led by Cherrie Corey, local field naturalist and photographer and Sam Jaffe, local expert on Mass. caterpillars

Meet at Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Concord, MA (Monsen Road, off Rte. 62, driveway on left where road curves right)

For questions, email cherrie.corey@verizon.net or call 978-760-1933

Omniscience in a Lotus Field

Imagine a Buddha sitting atop each lotus blossom at Great Meadows!  A closer encounter with these magnificent plants gives a palpable sense of their symbolic importance in Buddhist stories and beliefs.

Potential (bud)

Creative expression (blossom)

Omniscience (ripened pod)
Wisdom (seasoned leaf)