March 24, 2011

Monthly Great Meadows Walk - April

Saturday, April 9, 10 am - noon

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

The landscape awakens in April!  Flocks of returning birds, fattening buds, sunning turtles, and brilliant cattail shoots all reassure us that life is renewing.  Join me on our first venture into spring along Great Meadows' marshlands and riverbanks.

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

Led by Cherrie Corey, naturalist and photographer 

Co-sponsored by Musketaquid Arts and Environ. Program  and Friends of the Assabet River NWR

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

For questions, email or call 978-760-1933.

Photo Foray - Saturday, April 2, from 3-5:30 pm

Warmly dressed for early blooming!
The birds, bees, and early bloomers know that spring has sprung.  Join me for a photographic journey through the wet meadows of Concord's East Quarter and Great Meadows where pussywillows and skunk cabbage are blooming, Blanding's turtles may be basking, and flocks of early birds stop in to graze the shallows and shorelines.  In an adventure of seeing, learning, and creating, we'll tune-in to the subtle colors emerging in the landscape, the softening light, and all the lively signs of the new season.  Tips on composition, lighting, exposure, and depth of field will be shared along the way.  Bring a digital or film camera with which you are familiar.  

Photo Foray -  Saturday, April 2, 3-5:30 pm
We'll begin at the National Park Service's Meriam Corner lot on Lexington Rd. and move on from there.

Fee:  $25   Limited to 12 participants, ages 14 - adult.

For registration details, please email me at or call 978-369-4289 (and leave a message in VM box #1).

March 19, 2011

Moonrise Over Carlisle

Full moon rise over Spencer Brook headwaters
(Hand-held, please excuse the blur)
Spencer Brook cuts through a long valley that connects Carlisle to Concord.  Tonight some 60 Carlisle residents and friends joined the Carlisle Trails Committee for their annual full moon walk.  Setting out from the Spencer Brook Reservation, we walked past shadowy wolf pines and through many spring seeps across linked parcels of conservation land.  We stopped to enjoy a woodcock's "peents" and aerial display before heading through the woods, into a back field, just in time to marvel at the moon rising over a distant pine knoll.  Soon we could see the silvery meanderings of Spencer Brook glowing in the marshlands before us.
Steve Tobin welcomes moon walkers of all ages.
 The Trails Committee -- including Steve Tobin, who many will know from our monthly Great Meadows walks -- has recently completed a remarkably constructed wildlife viewing platform out over the marsh. Some stairs and finishing touches will complete the project, but our entire entourage easily mounted the deck to enjoy tonight's brilliant spectacle.  For photos of this remarkable community construction effort, see  For future visits, park at the closed off section of Spencer Brook Road near West Street and follow the fields and trails to South St. and the Benfield Conservation Land access.  Maps to Carlisle Conservation lands and trails can be accessed at

March 18, 2011

Big Birds in Town!

Adult bald eagle at Great Meadows
Bald eagles returned to Great Meadows as the dense ice over the marshes began to melt a couple of weeks ago.  They have been daily visitors since, making a springtime feast of a bounty of carp and other fish.  Yesterday there were two adults and one immature eagle fishing, perching, and soaring together in the late afternoon delighting a crowd of us watching from the observation tower.

One eagle flew down to an island of cattails and, curiously, gathered a clump of dried leaves and carried them up to the branch where the other birds were perched.  Likely these big birds will move on as the weather warms, to return late in the year as winter closes in once again.  But let's not go there just yet!

March 12, 2011

Great Meadows Walk - Sun., March 13, 2:30 - 4:30 pm

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

March brings the water element back to Great Meadows.  Ice gives way to dark brimming pools, the rising river, and muddy trails.  Freshets flow and visiting gulls and bald eagles may come by for an early spring feeding frenzy.  Muskrats emerge, redwings return, and fattening maple buds bring a red haze to the floodplain forest.  Join in the exploration of winter's retreat and spring's awakening.

Warm layers, waterproof winter boots, and ice cleats are recommended.  There will be a strong, chilly breeze and the back trails are still covered with ice and patches of snow. While the dike trail is currently flooded we'll have great opportunities for wildlife encounters.

No pre-registration required.  A $5 donation will be gratefully accepted.

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

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

For questions, email or call 978-760-1933.

Spring Feeding Frenzy

Gulls pull dead carp through the ice for their annual feeding frenzy in the Great Meadows NWR impoundments.  Bald Eagles often join the feasting on either end of the day, as long as the ice lasts.

March 10, 2011

Snow, Ice, Wind, Rising Waters - It Must Be March!

The floodplain has donned its spring attire and the Dike Trail is underwater.  Both a photo foray (3/12 at 2 pm) and the monthly Great Meadows Walk (3/13 at 2 pm) are scheduled for this weekend.  The Great Meadows walk will take place as planned, skirting the edge of the marshes and exploring the woodland trails.  I'll be sending out a note about logistics to photo foray registrants tomorrow.

It won't be long before we can't keep up with all the awakening life!