Monday, November 25, 2013

Sounds of the Woods in November

Muir Trail, Ridge Hill Reservation, Needham, MA
Let's all listen to the sounds of the suburban woods on a crisp November morning.

Leaf blowers. Cannot escape them. Must learn to appreciate them. Imagine they are some natural phenomenon like singing sand dunes

Friday, November 15, 2013

New Ridge Hill Reservation Esker Trail Loop

Look for the Red Trail Markers
The Esker Trail is the longest trail in Needham's Ridge Hill Reservation, running along the top of the esker that gives Ridge Hill its name. In the past the trail ended in a set of confusing spurs, many leading to private property. 
The Esker Trail branched into spurs at Trail Marker 11
Thanks to the work of Needham Trails folk and the Conservation Commission, the Esker Trail now ends in a loop with a significant extension that comes close to the Wellesley border. 
My rendering, not intended to be cartologically  accurate.
This makes walking the whole Esker Trail much more enjoyable--less backtracking. And it provides access to the upper sections of the gas line easement, which crosses private property around Cartwright Road. 
Algonquin Gas Line Easement, looking to the south-west.
I wasn't able to participate in the blazing of the new trail segment so I was able to try it out as a naive hiker.
Ridge Hill marker on giant birch tree
The loop begins around trail marker #11, though not directly at it (as the maps above might suggest). An enormous birch tree is a suitable landmark for the loop's start. I took the path to the right. It leads up the side of a hill through some lovely wooded (and rather birdy) areas. After crossing the easement the trail continues to the Wellesley border. (If you find yourself at the Wellesley Recycling and Disposal Facility you've gone too far). Look for a trail that branches off to the left, marked by pink ribbons.
Pink ribbons mark the trail extension
The trail loops around, crosses the easement again, and then ends at the intersection of a trail leading to the left and the right. 
Go to the left
Here there is no obvious sign of which way to go, though a little logic would suggest the loop continues to the left, and that would be correct (going to the right leads to private property). Not far away you will come to the enormous birch and the end of the loop. Enjoy!
One of many late autumn dragonflies I disturbed on my walk

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Riverside Ducks

Black Ducks under Yellow Tree, Riverside, RI
Some day I'll make all the way up and down the East Bay Bike Path during duck season. For now, short walks down to some of the protected coves in Riverside will have to do.  Yesterday was good day for American Wigeons (a raft of 50-60 peeping in one inlet), plus lots of Hooded Mergansers and Black Ducks. Today's photo theme will be ducks flying away from me.

Hooded Mergansers, Riverside, RI
American Wigeon displaying its white axillaries, Riverside, RI

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Early November at the Charles River Peninsula

Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
Dawn is late these days. The mowers and leaf blowers are already filling the soundscape by the time the sun is up.
Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
Luckily robins and cedar waxwings are on the scene providing local sonic texture. 
Some sort of warbler, can't quite place it. I wish it had some sort of distinguishing feature....
We've thoroughly made the transition to juncos and white-throated sparrows. Winter flocks of goldfinches and house finches are beginning to arrive. Golden-crowned kinglets twittering in the canopy.