March 27, 2010

Brisk Spring Morning at GMNWR in Concord

It was 20 degrees this morning as we gathered in the parking lot for our first spring walk.  Of course, I was delighted for us to have one more chance to commune with ice before all turns green.  The river appeared to have dropped overnight as hinted by ice stars clinging to reed stems and hovering 4-5" above the water's surface.

The birds were not phased by the crisp temperature.  Buffleheads and tree swallows were spied from the tower.  Various woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees, and goldfinches were all quite active along the woodland trails.  A carolina wren sang in the neighborhood and a golden-crowned kinglet let out his song along the Timber Trail, while wood ducks were seen both on water and in trees.  We found many skunk cabbage blossoms and wild onions near the Edge Trail boardwalk.  In our first exploration of the Timber Trail, we discovered an outcrop draped in evergreen woodfern and polypody ferns with a carpet of partridge berry nearby.  Lots of detours and bushwhacking to maneuver around flooding even deep into the pine woods.  Another wonderful morning spent on the trail with enthusiastic, observant, and knowledgeable folk!  See new photos in GMNWR 2010 photo album.

March 26, 2010

GM Walk is On - Sat., 3/27, 9-11 am

I'll be dressed warmly and waiting in the parking lot for those who'd like to join me for this month's walk.  High water will be the highlight of our explorations.  Unusual wildlife encounters are certain as all the critters continue to adjust themselves to the shifted landscape.  We'll follow the old RR bed out to the upland end of the Timber Trail, stopping along the way to look for tree flowers and skunk cabbage blossoms.  A cold morning's predicted so bundle up and wear rubber boots or muck-around shoes.

March 20, 2010

House Hunting

With many of the nesting boxes underwater, a pair of wood ducks went house hunting high in the oak trees next to the Edge Trail.  The male flew to several trees sticking his head into what I assume was a potentially cozy cavity, then he would turn and look at his doubt for her approval.  She sat still and attentive, but if she had an opinion, it didn't show.  I hope they've settled on a home and won't be dismayed when the water recedes and the traffic resumes underneath them.

March 18, 2010

The River's Reach

The flooding peaked today and river, impoundments, and parking lot became one deep watery expanse.   The water rose to 18" through most of the parking lot and lower driveway and up to 26" near the gate to the dike trail (up to my thighs).  When I arrived at 9:45 AM there were geese swimming across the parking area.  Muskrats made a feeding platform the tower steps and floating tires, chipmunks looked displaced, and redwings were everywhere.

A neighboring farmer told me he hasn't seen the river this high since the winter of 1952-53.  New flood photos are now posted in 2010 album:

March 16, 2010

Equinox Walk - Moved to March 27, 9-11 am

The Edge Trail is living up to its name today.  The parking lot and nearly all the trails have been flooded by this latest deluge.  It likely will be a week until we can comfortably cover ground again, so I've decided it's best to reschedule our walk.  Please join me on Saturday, March 27th for a rare opportunity to explore the floodplain at its best.

Waterworld - March 2010

Beaver lodges submerged, benches floating away, and most of the trails flooded!

March 14, 2010

Signs of Spring

On this day of yet another deluge, be reassured that Spring is upon us!  While we could still be flooded, chilled, or snowed under between now and early May, the rhythmic transition of spring is in full swing.

Water and waterfowl are everywhere

Water wings - ephemeral morning ice, greets early risers along the river's edge

Industrious muskrats nibble on fresh cattail shoots foraged from the thawing mud.


Male and female speckled alder flowers and male silver maple flowers make their subtle debuts

Swans and all the feathered and furred ones, undaunted by the fickle weather of this season, show their renewed procreative zeal

How do I know when Spring truly has arrived?  The curl returns to my hair, my senses revive, passion reignites, and familiar metabolic responses return -- even when the snow and ice are lingering too long.  Seriously, to revel in the beginning of each new season and feel integral to it's unfolding, tune in first to your own body/mind's response.

March 1, 2010

Spring Equinox Walk at Great Meadows - Saturday, March 20, 9-11 am

Skunk cabbage
A continuing series of monthly walks exploring the landscape, plants, and seasonal wonders of Great Meadows in Concord.  The damp and warming earth, freshening breezes, and first blush of new growth are hallmarks of the March landscape.  Rising waters, lingering ice, returning birds, and first flowers all await us on the trail.  Dress for mud!

No pre-registration required. A $5/person voluntary donation will be gratefully accepted.  If necessary, rain/flooding dates will be posted here and at the refuge parking lot.

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 National Wildlife Refuge in Concord, MA. Take Monsen Road, off Rte. 62 to the driveway on left where the road curves right.

Wet and Wild

Last weekend's storms brought in big rains, big wind, and big birds.  As of today, the dike trail is submerged in chest deep water and the parking lot and Edge Trail have assumed their spring-time role as the river frontage.  The Black Duck Trail is just that, and at dusk a muskrat was swimming circles around the legs of the kiosk.

Quite a contrast from last year at this time.

The quickly melting ice is now a flutter with greater black-backed and ring-billed gulls noisily feeding on carp which they pull up through ever widening holes.  Returning red-wings are singing from stranded shrubbery.  Today they were joined by an immature bald eagle, seen feeding this morning by refuge biologist, Jason St. Sauver.  I got a close look at him in the mid-afternoon as he flew low over the tower where I was standing.  A number of eagles are in the area and it's likely that they'll be feeding out on the ice in the coming week.

Top - Flooded dike trail ("Ford", cont. by Anne Whitaker), 2.27.10
Bottom - Stillness at sunset (by Cherrie Corey), 3.3.09