August 18, 2015

Coastal Grass at Great Meadows

Coastal barnyard grass (Echinochloa walteri), aka Walter's millet
In an August evening walk along the Dike Trail at Great Meadows NWR - Concord Unit, the backlight of the setting sun sets several clumps of coastal barnyard grass (Echinochloa walteri), also known as "Walter's millet," ablaze among the mid-August wildflowers.  The sight stops many in their tracks.

Thanks to one of this month's walk participants at Great Meadows, I was asked to reconsider my ID for this grass, which for several years I have assumed was foxtail barley (Hordeum jubatum).  Re-noting its branched inflorescence and prominent bristles that stand out on the lower stem and continue prominently up through all of the inflorescences, I tracked down the correct ID.  Checking in with Ray Angelo's Vascular Flora of Concord, Massachusetts, he mentions that Richard Eaton (author of the Flora of Concord, 1974) said this grass was abundant in Concord in a single location - along the dike trail at Great Meadows.  It inhabits the upper edges of salt marshes and other low-lying wetland shorelines across the eastern U.S.

August 14, 2015

Great Meadows Evening Walk - Aug. 16

Sunday, August 16, 6:30 pm
Great Meadows NWR - Concord

Join me for one last evening stroll through the refuge to enjoy the colorful glow of late summer wildflowers and fruits, the hum of myriad bees and dragonflies, the choreographed pulsing of evening gnats, and the symphony of crickets and katydids and dusktime birdsong.  We'll meet Joe-Pye weed, buttonbush fruits, silky dogwood berries, tearthumbs, evening primrose, wild cucumber vine, and cardinal flowers along the way.  Come prepared for serendipitous wild encounters of all kinds!  Donations are gratefully accepted.

Led by local naturalist and photographer, Cherrie Corey (yours truly)

Open to all ages.  No pre-registration required. 

Co-sponsored with Friends of the Assabet River NWR

Please note:  Refuge headquarters waives the entrance fee for these walks.  However, I encourage everyone to consider purchasing a $12 annual pass to help support critical visitor service needs at Great Meadows NWR - Concord Unit.

Meet at the information kiosk at Great Meadows NWR in Concord.  Take Rte. 62 to Monsen Rd.  Follow Monsen Rd. and turn left into refuge driveway when road turns sharply right.  Follow refuge road to the parking lot at the end.  GPS coordinates:  203 Monsen Rd. (yellow house on left immediately before the refuge driveway).

For questions or to be added to the emailing list for notice of these and impromptu evening walks, contact Cherrie at or 978-760-1933.

August 2, 2015

Blue Moon Shared - A Glorious Rising

Some forty-three eager walkers joined me on July 31 at Great Meadows for a lovely summer evening stroll down the cross-dike trail, timed to share a glorious Blue Moon rise over the marsh. We explored the many blooming summer wildflowers and airborn and scurrying critters along the way. A swelling chorus of tree crickets and cicadas provided the music and a little family of mallards trying to get from river to marsh through our forest of feet in a 'make way for ducklings' moment.

A blue moon is the contemporary, popular term for a second full moon that occurs within one calendar month, which happens about every 2.5 years.  For an older definition of 'blue moon' see this link, Blue Moon Folklore.

The moonrise was stunning, with the refuge's expansive American lotus field (a mixed blessing) lighting up as the moon climbed higher.  The last blue moon rise took place in August 2012.

Once mother mallard coaxed all of her ducklings through our throng, they paddled away through the moonbeams, giving us all a shiver in the perfection of that moment.