December 13, 2011

Reassuring Signs

New ice

Last evening I put on my layers and tall rubber boots and headed out to Great Meadows' flooded trails to catch the sunset.  In the shadowy pools along the entry drive, starry ice formations were gathering around waterborn twigs.  

It was 4:05 pm and the sun was poised for its final descent, with perfect streaming clouds ready to catch the spray of color that would follow.  I headed out the Dike Trail, leaving behind other visitors who weren't dressed for high water.  The calf-deep flooding around the first footbridge gave way to drier ground where the views to the west opened up. 

It was completely calm and so silent an evening, that I slipped easily into my zone of perfect communion with the gathering dark and blushing sky and the wildlife's dusktime bustle. 

Hearing the softest sound behind me, I turned slowly around to find a young, solitary snow bunting feeding on spilled evening primrose seeds right at my feet.  We kept quiet company with each other for nearly five minutes, exchanging soulful glances in between its mouthfuls and my shutter clicks.  I've never seen a snow bunting up close and was truly stirred by its soft beauty and remarkably calm and engaging disposition.

Male snow bunting in winter plumage
As the dark gathered around us and coots and muskrats began to scurry across the trail, I reluctantly turned to go while I could still see to ford the flooding.  Just as I reached the kiosk and turned for one last look at the fading light and color, the nightly battalion of Canada geese, a couple hundred strong, came surging over the western horizon toward the marshes, their crescendo of honking breaking the stillness until all tumbled down and were quietly settled on the dark water.
Geese heading in for the night
I left, reassured by the signs, that winter indeed is upon us.

December 1, 2011

Monthly Great Meadows Walk - December

December Ice Dragon, 2010
Sunday, December 11, 2:30-4:30 pm

A continuing series of monthly walks exploring the landscape, plants and seasonal wonders of Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Concord 

As we approach the Winter Solstice, daylight wanes and opportunities multiply to meet beauty and wildlife on the threshold of darkness.  On this month's walk, we'll explore the landscape for details highlighted by the low hanging sun, the bustle of birds feeding and settling, the dusk-time activity of beaver, and revelations of resident owls.  We'll hope for a sunset finish to the afternoon's adventure.

Led by Cherrie Corey, local naturalist and photographer

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

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, driveway on left where road curves right)

Email any questions to

Exploring Seasonal Wonders in Concord - 2012

Table ice in the floodplain
Environmental Learning Program for Homeschoolers

Join Cherrie Corey for a series of monthly adventures exploring the mysteries and wonder of three of Concord's renowned natural areas -- Great Meadows NWR, the Estabrook Woods, and a thriving great blue heron rookery.  In this five-part monthly program, students will learn to form an attentive and personal connection with wild landscapes, to ask critical questions and seek answers about their observations and experiences, to recognize varied habitats and their plant and animal inhabitants, to compare notes with Henry David Thoreau, and to build an ongoing relationship with place through the rhythmic cycle of seasonal changes.

Dates and Locations:  Fridays, 10 am - 12:30 pm; January 13/Great Meadows, February 10/Great Meadows, March 9/Great Meadows, April 20/Estabrook Woods, and May 11/Heron Rookery

Fee:  $100/child ($103 with PayPal).  Limited to 10 children (ages 9-14).  If you register with your payment through PayPal/Credit Card below, please send your child's name and your address, phone(s), and email to  

If you prefer to pay by check, send an email to Cherrie with the above information and request additional mailing information.

Registration is encouraged by December 16 and will be confirmed when payment is received.