Monday, March 4, 2013

Ponkapoag bog and Franklin park

Yesterday was such a great day. In fact, I have a hard time coming up with a name for this blogpost because it feels the day was so rich and full of adventure. It begun with this view outside my window: a redwinged blackbird, returning to my backyard as they always do in March. It is about two weeks earlier than last year, but aside from what this means in terms of global warming and climate change, it was still a happy awakening.

The little boys spent the night on a sleepover and I had the whole day to myself, and although the house could definitively have used some TLC, of course I couldn't wait to get outside. After some thinking I decided to go back to Ponkapoag pond bog. I was hoping to see animals and birds, woods and adventures and open skies. 

It started already in the parking lot. The spine and some bones from a deer. Every bit of tissue had been carefully gnawed off, probably by a number of creatures, each taking their turn. Somehow it was satisfying to see how nothing was left except the bare bones. No waste in nature - the matter that was once a deer is now transformed into other beings and life forms.

Then I marched through the woods down to the bog boardwalk area. 

The heavy planks were sometimes submerged in water, sometimes completely covered with icy snow. For a moment I wondered if this was perhaps not such a good idea, but I carefully went on and it got slightly better after the first red maple swamp area.

In the woody part of the bog grows mainly red maples and Atlantic white cedar trees. Highbush blueberry, swamp azalea and leatherleaf are also common.

It seemed that the bog was more colorful than the regular woods.

Trunks of white cedar. At the sound of a gentle chirp I turned my head and saw a brown creeper just four feet from my head at eye level. I also heard the calls of mourning doves.

Although dead deer is interesting in its own way, I'm glad to see traces of living ones as well.

Cedar twig

Colorful fungus

 Highbush blueberry have twigs both red and green.

Last time I visited the bog was in June. I remembered this clearing where the skies opened up and how happy that made me feel. It was the same yesterday.

The Atlantic white cedars often have Witches brooms on them, curious deformations of branches.

 The sphagnum moss were still a vivid mix of red and green.

Finally I reached the end of the boardwalk and could take in Ponkapoag pond. 

Sweetgale, maleberry and leatherleaf grew at the shore. 

It was while pondering the ID of this twig that I accidentally stepped outside of the snow covered planks and fell into the water with my right leg, up above my knee.

While drying up a bit I could enjoy the sky getting clear and the sun coming out. Somehow the sky is bluer here.

The sundried old planks soon sucked up a lot of water!

After I was back home and with dry socks on, I still wanted more outdoor time. A few days ago I witnessed three redtailed hawks soaring, clearly some territorial game going on, involving a mating couple and a hopeful intruder. Eventually the third one went its own way and the couple took off toward Shattuck hospital. I thought it would be nice to see them again and maybe even see where they are nesting. It took me through the park and back home again until I saw the same threesome game. Redtailed hawks soars on winds for minutes without a single wing flap.

In the park the little fresh water brook has already expanded and is covering a weedy lawn area.

I'm not happy to share this: dying hemlocks - only the very top is still alive. This is how it looks in Boston woods these days. I guess in a few years all of the Eastern hemlocks will be completely gone because of the Hemlock Woolly adelgid pest, an invasive little insect from Asia. It sucks the life out of majestic old trees and young ones alike in as little as 5 years, and only wealthy property owners and botanic parks seem to be able to pick up the tab for the treatment.

I also noted that the great horned owl seems to be at home in its pine grove, by judging from the fresh bone-fur mixes of pellets under the trees.

1 comment:

  1. Great! Thanks for the inspiration, after reading this I have to go out in the woods today!