Monday, March 14, 2011

What to do in Natick and Wellesley while your Mazda is in the shop

Ring-necked ducks, Morses Pond, Wellesley, MA
First day of spring break. A broken minivan door handle and a lit "check engine" light have me spending the morning at the Mazda dealership. What to do for a couple of hours? Exploration!

It may seem like Route 9 in Wellesley/Natick has little to offer in respect to nature study--the amount of trash and pollution along the road is rather appalling--but in fact there are several good spots nearby with direct access from the south side. Walking towards Natick, past the McDonald's, you will come to a trailhead for Hunnewell Town Forest.

I walked the trail along Jennings Pond, soaking up song sparrow melodies and red-wing blackbird conk-a-rees. The pond is still iced over in spots. Scared up two pair of wood ducks (it would appear that they are actively recruited to nest there).

One branch of the trail leads to a small parking lot on Oak Street (it really isn't necessary to walk Route 9 at all). Here the pond has more of a brook feel; the bird activity this morning was quite impressive. Here was a neat sighting--an apparent oriole nest made out of colorful string.

And then it was back to the Mazda dealership. Uh-oh. A new battery, number six coil, and oil pan will keep the car in the shop until 3 (not to mention putting a strain on the old bank account...). What to do? Plenty of time to walk to Wellesley center (about 2 miles away)! The "Cross-town Trail" offers a wooded route along Morses Pond. It seems heavily traveled, especially by dog walkers, but all I could think about the whole way was how great it will be during warbler season!

Morses Pond is still half-covered with ice but some interesting ducks have found the open spots. I counted about 30 ring-necked ducks, 8 hooded mergansers, and a pair of green-winged teals. This ring-neck was posing on the ice near "Pickle Point."

The Cross-Town Trail takes you to tiny Hunnewell Park near the Wellesley Town Hall. The old attraction--duck feeding--is now officially discouraged by signage posted near the pond. Judging by the speed with which these ducks came ashore I'm guessing the feeding continues. Check out the crazy mallard hybrid on the left.

It snowed during the walk back, but my mind was elsewhere, in May, dreaming of warblers.

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