Weather at Bedford, Hanscom Field, MA - via NOAA's National Weather Service

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

more rain

It's raining again!  Seems to be a Monday tradition this March.  Our yard is sure looking lake-like.  It is raining buckets right now, and I am getting sick of the tapping on the roof, but the birds are still out there, presumably looking for food.  I'd think they'd want to take cover wherever they might find it, but I guess not.  Without searching I've seen a blue jay, a cardinal, a hairy woodpecker and a downy woodpecker.  Too wet for the camera.  And it's chilly today also.  It rained a lot yesterday, but it was in the 50s - now it's closer to 40ºF.  Bleah!

Saturday, March 27, 2010


This morning as I walked there was a wonderful chorus.  I heard birdsong all along my trail.  There were robins, mourning doves, blue jays, chickadees and many others.  It was cold this morning - so cold there was ice on my pond, in spite of last weekend's balmy temps and arrival of spring, but the birds were singing away.  There were at least four-and-twenty blackbirds singing in one area, and a glorious cardinal calling in a meadow.  What a wonderful way to start the day!


red-wing blackbirds

ice on the pond!

Monday, March 22, 2010


If you don't like the weather in New England, just wait a few minutes.
- Mark Twain

It is raining today, but even from inside the house I can see the buds swelling on the shadbush and on the spicebush.  The warm weather and sun in the previous few days got that going.  There will be more flowers and lots of green soon.  And soon I will take down the birdfeeders for the summer.  They are already much less used that even a week ago, which means that the birds are finding food elsewhere.  I am happy to feed the birds, but I feel better when they are eating their "natural" diet.  It seems a little later than usual to me, but the goldfinches are beginning to turn yellow again, another sure sign of spring.  Even though this was an easy winter, those signs of spring are welcome.  We used to live in New Hampshire, and when we moved I said the only thing I didn't miss was the long winter.  I've been here three times as long as I lived there and I love it here, but I am glad that winter around here is a little shorter.  Of course, I wouldn't want NO winter, either.  That's what I love about New England - seasons and their constant change.  Just when you start to get tired of a season, it moves on and changes.  Of course, that goes for weather in any given week, and sometimes in a day!

spicebush (Lindera benzoin)

 shadbush (Amelanchier canadensis)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

spring is here

New colors for the new season.
And here are a few pictures of blooms from my yard yesterday.




Now, since spring has sprung, a new year is beginning in many ways.  I've got nearly a year of pics of Round Meadow on the left column of this blog.  I'm going to start a new series of a different view.  I can't decide if I prefer the "back woods" - the woods in back of my house, or "shadbush" - a shrub in my front yard.  Opinions?
As with Round Meadow, I'll do a sort-of-weekly photo through the seasons.

Friday, March 19, 2010


Signs of spring...  tulips peeking up, perennial herbs resprouting, primroses blooming, shadbush and lilac buds swelling and turning green, new and more bird songs...

and baby painted turtles...

like this one I found at work today.  It was on a busy path, so we moved it closer to the pond it was heading toward

Thursday, March 18, 2010

aural spring

This morning I heard my first wood frogs of the season, and this evening I heard my first peepers of the season.  We are tumbling head over heels into spring! 
If you'd like to hear what I heard today, and a bunch of other frogs as well, try this website - it's from Canada, but you can get the idea of what they sound like.  (I'm sure frog accents aren't any more difficult to understand than any other Canadian's.)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

signs of spring

Here are a few images with honest-to-goodness signs of spring.  The thermometer outside my window (which is not in the sun, but is in a warm, protected spot) reads 70ºF right now, and the forecast is for more of this in the next several days.


trillium (if I didn't know where to look, I would have missed it)



I have a new little waterfall, after all that rain - 3 days of it! - last weekend.  The part of the stream on the upper right used to flow only during heavy rainstorms, but I think now it may be permanent.  Or semi-permanent - my stream is what it termed "intermittent" which means that it dries up at times.  I will be interested to see what this area does now, and if the stream will have an additional segment, or if it will be rerouted.  I'll let you know...

Sunday, March 14, 2010


We've had a lot of rain since yesterday.

Here's the precipitation report as of a little earlier today.

Precipitation Accumulation


1.18 inches In the 3 hours preceding Mar 14, 2010 - 10:56 AM EDT / 2010.03.14 1456 UTC
1.71 inches In the 6 hours preceding Mar 14, 2010 - 01:56 PM EDT / 2010.03.14 1756 UTC
3.54 inches In the 24 hours preceding Mar 14, 2010 - 07:56 AM EDT / 2010.03.14 1156 UTC

If you click the weather link under the moon phase widget you can get the current report.

My little pond and stream are overflowing and the stream now has several branches, which I know from experience are temporary, but they are still impressive.

stream flooding below my house

I'll need a kayak to get to the house!

the pond today - can you see the waterfall?

the pond last fall - full, but normal

Friday, March 12, 2010


Trees are living things.  Being a living thing means that the thing must die some day.  That fact seems much sadder for animals (including birds, insects, etc.) than for plants, for some reason.  Maybe because we don't think plants have emotions?  Anyway, while we seldom spend a great deal of time observing dead animals - they tend to get stinky, for one thing, and decomposers work pretty fast on them, for another - dead plants can be fascinating.
And since trees are the biggest plants we have, they tend to last quite a long time after they die.  In fact, they are an integral part of their ecosystems, even after they stop photosynthesizing.
They provide food directly for decomposers, an indirectly for birds and other creatures that eat the decomposers.  As the parts rot away, the nutrients held within those parts go back into the food cycle, feeding young plants - maybe even a tree's own seed.
Dead trees also provide habitat for insects, birds and mammals.  Insects burrow under the bark, or even into the decaying wood.  Birds can still build nests in the branches until they break off, and cavity nesters (birds that nest in holes) excavate nests, or take over nests excavated by others.  Squirrels and blue jays, among others, will store nuts in holes in trees.  Possums will sleep away chilly winter days in large tree holes stuffed with leaves and other warmth-conserving materials.  Fishers will raise families in tree cavities.
And dead trees can give us interesting images to consider as well.  On my walk this afternoon, I noticed a tree that was clearly dead, and rotted around the bottom.  It looks like any slight breeze could knock it over.  I went over and gently pushed on the trunk.  It is still pretty stable - I'm sure a strong wind could take it down, but my nudging barely made it move.
After that, I kept noticing dead trees.  Here are pics of several that were interesting in one way or another....

another oak

too decayed to identify

 white pine

 same pine, up close


 another cedar

 another oak

At this time of year, many trees look "dead" with all their leaves gone, but if you look closely at the twig tips you will see the buds of this coming year's growth.  Those buds were formed as last summer was ending, and they sit there all winter, waiting for warmth and light to release them.  The flowers and leaves will emerge and the living tree will continue to grow.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


We've just come off several gorgeous sunny days.  As I write this, it is raining, and predicted to do so for the next few days, but up until this morning spring has been building.  It has even remained above freezing at night!  The problem with that is that for the sap to run in the maple trees, it needs to be above freezing during the day and below freezing at night.  Ideally, it is about 40ºF during the day, or a little warmer, and about 20ºF at night.  If it is too cold, the sap will freeze up and stop running.  If it is too warm, the sap stops running also.  So this year will probably be a poor syrup year.  The winter wasn't very cold around here, and now it is warm already.  Good thing I have some syrup left from last year.

twisted branches

Sunday, March 7, 2010


What a day!  Cardinals singing to start off the beautiful morning, and then a wonderful two-and-a-half hour walk, part of which was through areas I have not been in for a very long time.  Perfect weather - no jacket!!!
This walk was through the property that lies behind my house, so parts are very familiar to me, but other parts are less so - I tend to be a creature of habit, and often follow the same routes.  This land, more than 250 acres, is owned by the town adjacent to mine.  I live on the edge of my town, and when I look out my back windows I see into the next town - though you'd never know, because it is all woods (second growth pine-oak forest, in case you are interested).
This land is town-owned, but it is not in conservation.  It could theoretically be developed.  It is called land-locked because it is surrounded on two sides by major highways, and on the others by residential areas, putting it in a restricted access situation.  There is no automobile access to the area (other than parking for walkers, bikers, skiers, etc.) so development would be very expensive since a bridge or a tunnel would need to be built to cross a 6-lane state highway (there is no room for an entrance/exit ramp).  BUT this has not stopped some people from thinking that such a project would be financially feasible. 
Part of the town's water supply comes from this land, so it would behoove the selectmen to advise town meeting to do everything possible to preserve the land and prohibit development.  Any building would have to protect the water sources, and there are vernal pools on the parcel, which are protected by state law and cannot be destroyed or filled, but wouldn't it be better for all concerned if the land were to simply remain open space? 
There is already a power line easement over part of the property, and also a natural-gas line easement.  Both of these areas are kept relatively clear of brush, and provide excellent edge habitat for quite a number of birds, and plenty of other wild critters as well.  We saw a red-tail hawk circling as we were starting our walk.
There is, fortunately, a group working to get this property put into conservation in perpetuity.  This is the group that organized the walk I went on this morning - and into the afternoon.  Now, because I live in a different town, there is not much I can do to further the land protection issue, so I feel a little helpless, but I do what I can to support the project - such as adding some natural history knowledge on walks like this morning's.
The tricky part of this situation is that the only really legal access to the land is from a residential area in a different town (my town), so many residents don't know how to get to the area, and since it is not officially conservation land, there are no funds for signage and trail marking, etc.  I kind of like the fact that it is "secret", but I also want it to be protected, and the only way to do that seems to be by telling lots of people about it, so they get excited and interested, and tell their town meeting members and selectmen that the land should be preserved. 
Another interesting facet of this property is that many years ago, it was used as a car dump.  You can find some really interesting old car parts from the 40's and 50's, as well as a few newer dumps.  Of course there are also old batteries, tires, and lots of broken glass that can't possibly be good for the critters that call that area home.  Sometimes people have paintball wars back there, and sometimes kids start brush fires while goofing around, but most of the people who use it are respectful - mountain bikers, runners, walkers and such.

If I had a zillion dollars maybe I'd buy the whole piece and donate it for public use.  Wouldn't that be nice?  But it ain't gonna happen any time soon!  You can learn more about the Land Locked Forest here

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


I'm definitely feeling spring today.  It is over 40ºF today, and the sap is running in the sugar maples.  The sun is out, sort of, and the air has a scent and feel to it that connote spring and warm weather coming.  I can't take a picture of it, and I can't think of words to describe it, but it must be a combination of the wind, the mud, the sun, fattening buds, bright birdsong, and probably many other elements.  It is not received by a single sense, but by all in combination - is there a word for that?  It is not tactile, but neither is it an emotion.  It is very comprehensive, physically and psychically, and I know exactly what it means even though I cannot describe it either way, or any other way very well, apparently.  Maybe you already know what I mean!  It is a knowing, an understanding, of the natural world, and I suppose that it is what has helped us survive for so many eons in so many places.  I wonder how long it will last.
blue jay feather