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Westford Wildlife Watch, September 2016 – Marian Harman

hill-orchard_marian-harman
Hill Orchard in Westford

Farmland is disappearing in Massachusetts. In response to open space loss, about ten years ago, the Mass Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, developed a continually updated document titled the Smart Growth Tool Kit. The Tool Kit website states, “We are losing agricultural lands and farming opportunities at an alarming rate….over 16,000 acres of open space is developed and lost in Massachusetts each year.” To try to stem the tide of farmland loss, the Mass Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) established the Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) program in 1979. It was a first-in-the-nation model for many other states. The MDAR website states, “the primary purpose of the APR program is to preserve and protect agricultural land, including designated farmland soils, which are a finite natural resource, from being built upon for non-agricultural purposes or used for any activity detrimental to agriculture, and to maintain APR land values at a level that can be supported by the land’s agricultural uses and potential.”

The APR program works by paying farmers the difference between the full market value of their land and the agricultural value of the land. In that way, the landowner retains ownership of the land, but cannot sell the land for anything but agriculture. The program has worked well. It has protected 800 farms and 68,000 acres in Massachusetts.

Westford has followed the State trend. The 2006 Master Plan states, “From 1985 and 1999, Westford experienced the second greatest loss of agricultural land of any town in Massachusetts.” The recent 2006 Westford Reconnaissance Inventory (2006) completed through the Massachusetts Heritage Landscape Inventory Program cited the loss of active farming and the development of agricultural land as “one of Westford’s key planning issues.” In looking at our Open Space Plans, it is evident that since 1957 we have lost over 90% of our farmland. We have only three protected farms left, totaling 64 acres. These farms are protected by Agricultural Preservation Restrictions and conservation restrictions. In 1999, the purchase for $525,000 by the Town of an APR on the Drew Parcel on Boston Rd. was completed. Here is what is written in the 1999 Town Report regarding the purchase: “This will assure the preservation of a critical part of the landscape important for maintaining the character of the Town which has been identified by the citizens of the Town as a high priority during the Master Plan update process.” The 2010 Open Space Plan states, “Westford residents place great value on retaining the town’s farming heritage in addition to protecting open space, and the town has successfully preserved several working farms and orchards through agricultural preservation restrictions and municipal purchase.”

We must stay vigilant in our determination to protect Westford’s farmland. Its the only farmland we will ever have.

Many thanks to all flora and fauna reporters for the month of September. Please send reports by October 26 for inclusion in next month’s column. You can write me at 10 Chamberlain Rd., call me at 692-3907, or e-mail me at mariancharman@verizon.net

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September Reports:

Marian/Bill Harman, Chamberlain Rd. September 2, our crabapple tree is drought stressed. It has dropped most of its leaves already and hasn’t produced any apples. September 6, a red squirrel has learned to squeeze through the tiny space between the baffle and the pole at the bird feeder. We have put up a tighter baffle. So far, so good…There was a stand-off between a female house sparrow and a male downy at the suet. They fought for a few minutes and the downy won. September 4, hummingbirds here, but by September 11 they had left. September 21, phoebes still here. September 26, a lovely doe and fawn crossed over Chamberlain Rd. in front of me and into the woods at Francis Hill Rd. The juncos are back! Black walnut tree on Francis Hill Rd. is fruiting. A beautiful big sulphur bracket fungus is on a stump on Francis Hill Rd. We hear a barred owl hooting most days and evenings.

Dot Mooney, Monadnock Dr. September 5, various goldenrods along edge of lawn are struggling to bloom in this long drought. September 6, chickadee and titmouse bathing happily at same time. I have never seen two different species bathing together. Hummingbird feeder has a lot of activity all day. September 9, Howard Rd. wetland dry, just a mud flat now with a scattering of tracks. September 10, three tom turkeys around, doves under feeder. September 11, At Howard Rd., an alder flycatcher in shrubs beside the mudflat. Several chickadees and a red-tailed hawk around. Monadnock Dr., in the evening, chickadees, titmice, chipping sparrow and house finches at bird bath for a few sips. At least six birds, after drinking had a quick bath. They looked like a little assembly line. September 13, by water on Beaver Brook Rd., Doug Pederson and I watched a great blue heron and he photographed a red-tailed hawk. Large family of turkeys on Flagg Rd., youngsters nearly the size of mother. September 18, the large wild honeysuckle thicket at the edge of back lawn is completely covered with grape vine now, a haven for birds. September 20, rhododendron in front still very wet from rain. Watched a chickadee repeatedly and deliberately brushing against the wet leave, then fluttering feathers, taking a bath –clever. Under power lines on Parkhurst Dr., a few talkative catbirds in shrubs and nearby blue jays. Bittersweet vine leaves and berries both yellow now. The many ferns are beautiful gold and rust. Winterberry bush full of red berries. A chipmunk chased another, fiercely defending his little territory. The last remnants of Queen Anne’s lace, goldenrod and spotted knapweed still in bloom. The first plants to change color that I notice are poison ivy vines, then more vines and various shrubs begin their beautiful transition, and when they are finished changing, the trees will begin. “Nature just keeps on giving.”

Diane Duane, Howard Rd. September 7, “a yellow sac spider on deck–very cool!” [Diane sent good photo-MH]

Bruce Haraty at Hildreth Heights. September 9, both an adult and an immature coopers hawk hunting behind us, in trees behind feeders, looking to prey on birds.

Kate Phaneuf, at Providence Rd. September 11, two adult female turkeys crossing road, accompanying ten poults of two different ages. One of the females was the white turkey I’ve reported before. Drawbridge Rd., September 22. I think I have had another bear visit. A suet cake, which is hot-pepper flavored was not touched. But a finch sock with niger seed in it was hanging on a branch. The branch was cracked and bent to the ground, and the sock was slit. All seed was gone.

Doug Pederson, on Tyngsboro Rd. near Butterfly Place, September 19, a great egret, and a great blue heron feeding in the water. [Doug sent a photo. We don’t see many great egrets here-MH] September 21, at the town beach, Forge Pond, September 21, cormorant in water. At Beaver Brook bridge, a bald eagle soaring around. September 24, kingfisher, tree sparrow and great blue heron in pond at Tyngsboro Rd. At Forge Pond, an osprey catching fish. At Flushing Pond, three wood ducks perched on a low branch over the pond.

Rosemarie Koester, Providence Rd. September 26, we see a small number of goldfinches, many house and purple finches with many young. One or two pairs of cardinals. Blue jays, about two at a time, chickadees, tufted titmouse, nuthatches, grackles, doves, chipping sparrow. Hummingbirds seem to have left in the past two weeks. A hawk flew to a low branch on a pine tree then fluttered towards the bushes. Also, about ten squirrels, numerous chipmunks, bees around the blossoms–happy to see that. Young turkeys which have grown a lot are out by the street where the big oak tree has dropped many acorns. When cars go by and crush them, they are snacking on that. Friends report a red squirrel in a feeder eating a small bird. Coyote howling last night. A blackish colored butterfly on a hanging flower basket in front- Spice bush swallowtail? no camera handy!

Kate Hollister/Peter Mahler, Vinebrook Rd. September 26, muskrat, two young raccoons, ruffed grouse, great blue heron, Canada geese.

Kate Phaneuf, Drawbridge Rd. September 26, a large oak tree that leans towards Tadmuck Brook behind my house is dropping the ends of its many branches all over, clusters of 5-6 leaves with some nuts. The tree must be so dry that its tips aren’t quite getting enough water.

 

Wildlife Watch by Marian Harman

Marian’s Wildlife Watch Blog

Probably you are discouraged by the severe drought we are having in the northeast. It’s hard on our yards and gardens, and especia

Brown-fruited Rush_Marian Harman copy
Brown-fruited Rush

lly hard on wildlife, which need extra water put out at our bird feeders to survive. But there is one very big upside of the drought from my point of view. I have found two plants that I have been looking for since 1994. I have recently rediscovered two plants first described in 1911 by the highly respected Westford botanist, Miss Emily Fletcher. Emily Fletcher was known about town as the lady who hiked up her long skirts and tramped through the fields and wetlands in search of rare plants. Women were not at that time invited to be members of the New England Botanical Club, so when she had an identification question, she sent her plants to men who were members. Her letters were often published in the club’s publication, “Rhodora”. All of her 630 pressed specimens, most from Westford, were donated to the Gray Herbarium at Harvard University at her death in 1923.

Emily Fletcher reported in a 1911 entry to the “Rhodora” that she had found “a rare grass, Juncus pelocarpus, which occurs only on the bottom of the middle of Grassy Pond when it is dry”. She also reported Rhexia virginica also known as Virginia meadowbeauty. When I read this report in 1984, I hadn’t realized that Grassy Pond ever dried up. Since then, I have found that the pond does almost dry up occasionally, and therefore is classified as a vernal pool. In the 22 years in which I have been searching for this plant, however, Grassy Pond was never dry in the middle. This year, eureka! The pond is completely dry and one can walk right out to the middle. We walked out there recently and found a plant that looked a lot like Juncus pelocarpus as illustrated in my Gleason and Cronquist  Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. I took multiple photos and sent them to Arthur Haines of the New England Wildflower Society. Mr. Haines, who is the author of Flora Novae Angliae confirmed that the plant is, indeed, Juncus pelocarpus. He told me that it is actually a rush, not a grass, and that it is also known as Brown-fruited Rush. He said that it is not on the state list of rare plants, but is uncommon, due to the fact that it only grows in seasonal wetlands. The also uncommon Virginia Meadowbeauty is much easier to identify, and my Peterson’s Field Guide to Wildflowers was all I needed for that. Its a beautiful, startlingly bright pink mass of flowers blooming at Grassy Pond’s margin.

Emily Fletcher was an important contributor to the publication Flora of Middlesex County. At the time of her death at the age of 78, she was movingly recognized by members of the Botanical Club. You can find out more about Emily Fletcher by reading companion papers titled “Emily Frances Fletcher” written by Jean Downy and Marian Harman in 1994. It is available at the Fletcher Library.

After twenty-two years of searching, I am delighted to find that these plants have survived at least 105 years at Grassy Pond, and are now appearing again to have their day in the sun. I like to think that Emily Fletcher would be delighted to see that they are still flourishing. Go see them before the fall rains cover them again! read more…

August 2016 – Wildlife Watch

Brown-fruited Rush_Marian Harman copy
Brown-Fruited Rush by Marina Harman

Westford Wildlife by Marian Harman

Probably you are discouraged by the severe drought we are having in the northeast. It’s hard on our yards and gardens, and especially hard on wildlife, which need extra water put out at our bird feeders to survive. But there is one very big upside of the drought from my point of view. I have found two plants that I have been looking for since 1994. I have recently rediscovered two plants first described in 1911 by the highly respected Westford botanist, Miss Emily Fletcher. Emily Fletcher was known about town as the lady who hiked up her long skirts and tramped through the fields and wetlands in search of rare plants. Women were not at that time invited to be members of the New England Botanical Club, so when she had an identification question, she sent her plants to men who were members. Her letters were often published in the club’s publication, “Rhodora”. All of her 630 pressed specimens, most from Westford, were donated to the Gray Herbarium at Harvard University at her death in 1923.

Emily Fletcher reported in a 1911 entry to the “Rhodora” that she had found “a rare grass, Juncus pelocarpus, which occurs only on the bottom of the middle of Grassy Pond when it is dry”. She also reported Rhexia virginica also known as Virginia meadowbeauty. When I read this report in 1984, I hadn’t realized that Grassy Pond ever dried up. Since then, I have found that the pond does almost dry up occasionally, and therefore is classified as a vernal pool. In the 22 years in which I have been searching for this plant, however, Grassy Pond was never dry in the middle. This year, eureka! The pond is completely dry and one can walk right out to the middle. We walked out there recently and found a plant that looked a lot like Juncus pelocarpus as illustrated in my Gleason and Cronquist  Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. I took multiple photos and sent them to Arthur Haines of the New England Wildflower Society. Mr. Haines, who is the author of Flora Novae Angliae confirmed that the plant is, indeed, Juncus pelocarpus. He told me that it is actually a rush, not a grass, and that it is also known as Brown-fruited Rush. He said that it is not on the state list of rare plants, but is uncommon, due to the fact that it only grows in seasonal wetlands. The also uncommon Virginia Meadowbeauty is much easier to identify, and my Peterson’s Field Guide to Wildflowers was all I needed for that. Its a beautiful, startlingly bright pink mass of flowers blooming at Grassy Pond’s margin.

Emily Fletcher was an important contributor to the publication Flora of Middlesex County. At the time of her death at the age of 78, she was movingly recognized by members of the Botanical Club. You can find out more about Emily Fletcher by reading companion papers titled “Emily Frances Fletcher” written by Jean Downy and Marian Harman in 1994. It is available at the Fletcher Library.

After twenty-two years of searching, I am delighted to find that these plants have survived at least 105 years at Grassy Pond, and are now appearing again to have their day in the sun. I like to think that Emily Fletcher would be delighted to see that they are still flourishing. Go to see them before the fall rains cover them again!

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Many thanks to all flora and fauna reporters for the month of August. Please send reports by August 26 for publication in next month’s column. You can write me at 10 Chamberlain Rd., call me at 692-3907, or e-mail me at mariancharman@verizon.net.

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Late July Reports:

Dot Mooney, at Howard Rd. July 21, so many very small painted turtles in water, hugging the arrowhead leaves. Small water snake, about 15 inches long. They get to be about 30 inches long, quite sturdy and grow darker with age. They look scary but are non-venomous and should not be harmed. A second snake soon appeared near the first one. This water is going down fast, more mud stretches. Monadnock Dr., July 22, three tom turkeys poking around. July 23, female red-bellied woodpecker visiting empty feeder by woods. I filled it and it was instantly visited by a goldfinch, chickadee, titmouse and house finch. They are a bit like us. We all have our own regular food, but its fun to go out to dinner. A pair of blue jays teaching three noisy youngsters how to use the feeder. July 24, rabbit scampering along edge of grass, red-eyed vireo singing in woods, several house finches on bird bath. Red-bellied, hairy and downy woodpeckers often on suet. July 25, bird bath getting busier, just saw a downy there. I rarely see a woodpecker in for a drink. July 26, at Howard Rd. wetland, numerous really small painted turtles. I noticed an animal moving through the dense foliage, a mink. A nice surprise. Many white water lilies blooming. At Monadnock Dr. July 29, small cooper’s hawk on back lawn. He lifted something up and took it into the woods. July 31, three blue jays on bird bath at once. A downy quickly hopped on after them. Two white-breasted nuthatches on deck together, busy checking tiny spaces between boards. Goldfinches regularly visit my pots of zinnias and coneflowers, nipping seed heads apart. Some scattered dove feathers on the ground out front suggest a sad end.

Sue Bonner, Plain Rd. July 25, a bobcat seen in the conservation land between our house and Almeria Circle.  A coyote appeared across street, headed onto our property. Two coyotes seen on Plain Rd. earlier. Two yearlings and one adult ground hog frequent our deck to prune my hibiscus and giant zinnias in a pot. Chipmunks and squirrels also eating hibiscus leaves and blooms. “It is a tough summer for all of us.” We feed birds with mixed seed, black oil sunflower seed and suet and enjoy watching the mom sparrows feed the fledglings as they perch on the shepherd’s crook. We also provide a large saucer of water on the deck for birds, squirrels and chipmunks, and another larger container of water on our stone wall. We have cardinals, blue jays, goldfinches, red-winged blackbird, mourning doves, starlings and grackles.

Marian and Bill Harman, at Grassy Pond, July 25, plants seen: Virginia meadowbeauty, Carex scoparia (a sedge), lance-leaved goldenrod, toad rush, a bulrush, twig rush, Juncus pelocarpus.

August Reports:

Dot Mooney, Monadnock Dr. August 1, a male goldfinch spent an extended time splashing, fluttering and drinking in the birdbath. House finches and chipping sparrows are often on the feeder by the woods. August 4, a young hairy woodpecker likes to stay on the suet a long time. Little downies get very annoyed with him hogging the suet. Perky little red squirrel by front woods. Little hummer on the porch, not interested in my flowers. August 6, I’m seeing more birds arrive for little sips of water and then quickly leave. This drought is getting worse. I set out a second dish of water. August 7, the pair of cardinals has become a family and are in and out of the feeder. Various bees also drink at the bird bath. Beautiful red-tailed hawk over the back woods. August 11, being an early riser, I can listen to the summer night insect sounds briefly before they begin to fade. Before the sun rose today, a robin was very loudly annoyed at something out in the woods. I guess we all have some drama in our lives. Chickadee and titmouse visiting suet, along with various woodpeckers. August 20, my feeder was empty for a few days but a friend filled it for me. There were many little birds sitting in the bushes nearby and could not wait to get to the seed, making noise as they waited. “When I rose very early this pleasant morning the night insects could still be heard. These familiar soft sounds usher in the late summer season, just as the peepers usher in spring”.

Marian/Bill Harman, Chamberlain Rd. August 1 at Grassy Pond, cowwheat, a magnolia turning bright orange already, marsh St. Johnswort, yellow-eyed grass, Canadian St. Johnswort. August 4. A mockingbird doing a long imitation of a whippoorwill. I wonder where he picked that up? “Our red squirrel has a clever way of getting seed from our “squirrel proof” feeder. He puts both back feet on the side of the feeder, then leans most of his weight on his left arm which pushes the bar down and closes the feeder. Then he does a little hop up and down which releases a few seeds. These he scoops up with his right paw and puts in his mouth. Such a clever animal, we can’t be angry with him. August 24, screech owl calling from our woods tonight.

Kate Phaneuf, Drawbridge Rd. August 6, one lone turkey pecking at a shiny black car on Providence Rd. Dead water snake on Drawbridge Rd. and a dead garter snake in the woods. The beaver pond is pretty much gone now. The beavers were trapped and moved.

Carol Engel, Lowell Rd. August 7, large baby cowbird being fed by a tiny adult sparrow.

Kate Hollister/Peter Mahler, Vinebrook Rd. August 7, snowshoe hare seen between Trailside Way and the pond, also saw barred owl. August 10, garter snakes, water snakes, green frog, catbirds at Kennedy Pond. Female whiteface dragonfly (Leucorrhinia sp) near Vine Brook. “The new growth on all the small pines trees on the Emmet Conservation land is dying. Many of them won’t survive the drought.”

Ginger Dries, Sherwood Dr. August 9, Mama turkey here every morning for last three days. August 15, rose-breasted grosbeak. Our hummingbird feeders are very busy, and the woodpeckers and a chickadee are using it now too. Two rabbits come every morning and evening. A cooper’s hawk visits and sits on birdbath, porch or feeder. Three to four pair of cardinals here with jays, finches, doves, titmice, chickadees, sparrows.

Rosemarie Koester, Providence Rd. August 14, twenty-three visiting wild turkeys. Saw a bobcat across the street last night, chasing something. August 16, purple, house and goldfinches, two pairs of cardinals with one juvenile, house sparrows, doves, two blue jays, up to six grackles. The grackles toss out the seeds they don’t like, which brings the squirrels and chipmunks to clean it up. Downy woodpecker, red-bellied woodpecker at feeder with a juvenile. A young pileated woodpecker here for a few days, chickadees, tufted titmouse, nuthatch, one lone male red-winged blackbird, hawk flying overhead. About three hummingbirds, very territorial. “One night they were almost battling in the air.” During the hot weather I had to fill the feeder almost every day. Birds, squirrels turkeys all drink from the bird bath. I put another dish on the ground. Coyotes calling to each other one night. Many chipmunks. They come on the deck and try to get our tomatoes, also eating my hostas. Many gray squirrels chasing each other, one red squirrel. Two hen turkeys with little ones (about 12 at first, now down to four). Hungry bunny ate all my hibiscus plant flowers and buds and tops of other blooming annuals. Garter snake by rock wall, wasp nest in gutter. Little black ants, a few bees. Squirrels climb our two very small mountain ash trees and nibble on the last set of leaves. Chunks of oak leaves on the lawn as well. My tall Rose of Sharon bush has many buds missing. Tops of smaller trees are dry, some turning color and dropping leaves already, brook almost completely dry. Bittersweet is still growing and encircling bushes and trees. If people would only check their areas and cut it down. It is so destructive.

Rick Ferry, Tenney Rd. August 10, I video’d a downy woodpecker sharing a hummingbird feeder with a hummingbird [Rick sent a great video of this unusual behavior-MH]. Our pond is very dry. All the birds are thirsty and looking to wash. Our birdbath which Sue fills daily gets a lot of action.

Peggy Bennett at Lake Nabnasset. August 10, while in a kayak, I saw a bald eagle flying past Edwards Beach going to Shipley Swamp and landing. At Nabnasset St., a raccoon comes to the bird feeder regularly.

Debbie Prato, Hayrick Lane. August 26, Canada geese, two female turkeys with ten poults, chipping sparrows, two blue herons flying over yard (to the great excitement of the turkeys), woodchuck, skunks, bats, walking stick on the screen.

 

Marian Harman is a member of the Westford Conservation Trust, a non-profit conservation organization. The Trust welcomes new members and volunteers. Check out the Trust’s website at westfordconservationtrust.org, or visit on Facebook.

 

Wildlife Watch by Marian Harman

Marian’s Wildlife Watch Blog

Grey Catbird_Doug Pederson
Grey Catbird – Doug Pederson

How are the birds doing in North America?

To answer that question, the North American Bird Conservation Initiative, a consortium of forty conservation organizations and government agencies has just published an important new document titled “The State of North America’s Birds”. More than 350 species of our migratory birds, such as the gray catbird, Baltimore oriole, and the wood thrush pass between Canada, the United States, and Mexico. The report combined citizen science bird data, collected on platforms such as e-Bird, to come up with the 2016 status report on the birds of all three countries, a total of 1,154 species.

The reports’ findings are alarming. It placed 37% of North American birds on a Watch List for Species in Urgent Need of Conservation. For some habitats birds are even more imperiled.  For instance, 57% of ocean birds are on the Watch List. Birds of tropical forests, coasts, arid lands and grasslands are also in steep decline. For these habitats, up to 56% of bird species are in decline. In other habitats, such as temperate forests, tundra, wetlands, and boreal forests, up to 27% of bird species are on the Watch List. Westford is a temperate forest habitat, but our migratory birds spend the winter in the tropical forest.  read more….

July 2016 – Wildlife Watch

Grey Catbird_Doug Pederson
Grey Catbird – Doug Pederson

How are the birds doing in North America?

To answer that question, the North American Bird Conservation Initiative, a consortium of forty conservation organizations and government agencies has just published an important new document titled “The State of North America’s Birds”. More than 350 species of our migratory birds, such as the gray catbird, Baltimore oriole, and the wood thrush pass between Canada, the United States, and Mexico. The report combined citizen science bird data, collected on platforms such as e-Bird, to come up with the 2016 status report on the birds of all three countries, a total of 1,154 species.

The reports’ findings are alarming. It placed 37% of North American birds on a Watch List for Species in Urgent Need of Conservation. For some habitats birds are even more imperiled.  For instance, 57% of ocean birds are on the Watch List. Birds of tropical forests, coasts, arid lands and grasslands are also in steep decline. For these habitats, up to 56% of bird species are in decline. In other habitats, such as temperate forests, tundra, wetlands, and boreal forests, up to 27% of bird species are on the Watch List. Westford is a temperate forest habitat, but our migratory birds spend the winter in the tropical forest.

One hundred years ago, Canada, Mexico and the US signed the Migratory Bird Treaty in order to protect our shared heritage in birds. Now on the centennial of this treaty, we need to step up our cooperation to protect bird habitat. Keeping oceans clean and free of plastic waste, doing what we can to slow and stop global warming, and especially protecting breeding and wintering habitat for birds, will all be required. As consumers, we can add to citizen science data by watching birds and logging our bird sightings in on e-Bird. We can stop using plastic bags, buy bird-friendly shade-grown coffee, and vote to protect open space. What’s good for birds is also good for our own survival.

David Moon, Sanctuary Director of Mass Audubon’s Joppa Flats Education Center, puts it this way, ” It might be good to reflect on why it is important to go out to see birds. It’s a matter of paying attention and spending time on something of great value. Your attention and your time are valuable…. you spend the hours and the perception you can afford, to the beautiful and important creatures that arose from the dinosaurs to grace our world. If they thrive we will thrive, and because as an entire population we don’t know well enough how to live with the earth, some of us must invest part of our lives watching the creatures that tell us how the world is faring and reminding us how precious it is. Watch birds as much as you can, whether alone, with your dog, with others who share your love of them, or best of all with others who will learn to love them. Our attention and the actions it engenders have saved, protected and restored so many acres, so many lives. ”

To see the full State of the Birds report, go to www.stateofthebirds.org.

Many thanks to all flora and fauna reporters for the month of July. Please send reports by August 26 for inclusion in next month’s column. You can write me at 10 Chamberlain Rd., call me at 692-3907, or e-mail me at mariancharman@verizon.net.

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Late June Reports:

Dot Mooney, Monadnock Dr. June 21, two hairy woodpeckers, one downy on suet, blue jays, male rose-breasted grosbeak on feeder. June 22, hairy woodpecker feeding a youngster, two doves on deck, one a juvenile. June 23, at Howard Rd. wetland, purple loostrife blooming, warbling vireo, duckling, all alone, darted quickly into arrowhead. Other arrowheads being tugged down into water, and saw a six-inch painted turtle doing the tugging. At least three more turtles swimming in same area. June 27, eight doves eating seeds. June 29, three young downies at suet. June 30, little house wren chattering in back woods. At Beaver Brook Rd., one greyish baby swan with parents now. White water lilies, pickerelweed, swamp milkweed blooming, a buttonbush coming up. Heard a warbling vireo. By wetland on Howard Rd, at least five turtles popped heads up here and there, a great blue heron moving at far edge of cattails. Also saw chicken — someone’s hen out for a walk!

Rosemarie Koester, Providence Rd. June 27, spotted turtle next to our garage and then on to lawn.

Marian/Bill Harman, Chamberlain Rd. At Grassy Pond, June 29, area around pond is a bog. It has sphagnum moss, sundews, common pipewort. At home, baby cardinal being fed by father. A walk at Grassy Pond: water almost all dried up- a lingering tiny pool with a great blue heron hunting in it, and white pond lillies wilting. About 2/3 from the edge the land turns boggy with sphagnum moss and many sundws Around the path the mountain laurel has just finished blooming, many grasses, sedges and rushes in the pond. Birds seen or heard: cardinal, mourning dove, chipping sparrow, crow family, catbird, chickadee, white-breasted nuthatch, blue jay, downy woodpecker, titmouse. Also deer flies, grey and red squirrels, chipmunks.

July Reports:

Dot Mooney, Monadnock Dr. July 1, “One bat fluttered by around dusk. A house wren had been chattering til’ sunset, then he turned it over to a robin. Soft breeze catching the aspen leaves, a lovely summer evening.” July 2, house finches trying to find some seed for begging babies. Handsome male grosbeak a frequent visitor. July 5, three turkey vultures overhead. fragrant common milkweed in bloom along back lawn. Red-tailed hawk over woods. July 9, visiting feeder by edge of woods, three titmice, chickadees, chipping sparrows, cardinals, blue jays, several dove on ground. Suet basket always popular with all woodpeckers, other small birds and blue jays. July 12, still dark at 4:45 a.m., cardinal and catbird already singing cheerfully in woods. At Howard Rd. wetlands, mid afternoon, lots of arrowhead bent over into water, and numerous little painted turtles sunning themselves on large arrowhead leaves. They were less than 4 inches long, and were everywhere. Purple loostrife in water, fragrant swamp honeysuckle blooming at water’s edge–no chicken today. July 13, A catbird’s random chatter became serous “mews” for awhile, then back to chatter. Poor Grassy Pond! Its so dry, its hard to picture myself walking around the pond and watching a cormorant sit on rocks in the center of the water. July 14, lovely doe walking in grass, 5:30 am. Family of blue jays around, several noisy youngsters pursuing parents. A squirrel shakes its fists at the feeder, then returns to try again. Five turkeys on ground under feeder. July 15, two deer in their soft, reddish-brown coats, one a doe, one a four-point buck in new antlers still velvet-covered. They seem shiny and healthy, sharing a pleasant moment in the wildflowers. July 16, one bat darting over lawn doing his job at 4:50 a.m. Two white-breasted nuthatches seem to be having a discussion. Feeder busy all day. July 17, back woods full of morning bird song. A wood thrush has added his voice for awhile. Evening, seven doves on ground. July 18, little family of chipping sparrows out front busy on ground, waiting to get on feeder. July 20, heads on sumac bushes showing more color….in the end they will all be beautiful. Chatty catbird nearby. “All of the birds sound as cheerful as can be on this lovely summer morning. I guess we all feel the same way.”

Doug Pederson, Woodland Dr. July 4, common yellowthroat warbler, cat bird, turkey vulture, black-billed cuckoo in Harvard at Oxbow refuge.  Lovely cooper’s hawk on tree in yard.

Kate Phaneuf, Drawbridge Rd. July 5, hawk (I think a broad-winged hawk) sitting on top of chimney cap, scanning. On Rt. 110 near post office, a killdeer running around in the grass. Possible raven soaring over Cornerstone Square area.  A little rabbit often visits in yard, nibbles at the moss.

Marian/Bill Harman, walk on Rome Drive. July 4, scarlet tanager singing, wood thrush singing. July 7, three great-spangled fritillaries on the bee balm. July 8, saint johnswort, milkweeds, walnut tree, norway maple, white pine, virginia creeper, grass pink, daisy fleabane. July 10, walk on trail near Blake’s Hill Rd., wood thrush, robins, chipping sparrow, Indian cucumber, common yellowthroat, song sparrow, red-winged blackbirds, chickadees, house finch, wild indigo, white-tailed deer, dogbane, parula warbler, mourning dove, chimney swift, tree swallows, pileated woodpecker, catbird, goldenrod, honeysuckle, bush honeysuckle, St. johnswort, sweet fern, pussy toes, red cover, four great blue herons in marsh, oriole family, red squirrel, scarlet tanager, great-crested flycatcher, sassafras trees, blue-headed vireo, seven heron nests, two have birds on them, two adult herons, one juvenile, kingfisher, cowbird, bracken fern, mosses, wild strawberry, red-eyed vireo, butte and eggs, two barn swallows. July 12, male rose-breasted grosbeak on the feeder.

Marilyn Day, Graniteville Rd. July 9, red squirrels cutting off tips of our spruce trees [to get the cones which were attached-MH]. Female and juvenile rose-breasted grosbeaks are constant visitors. I haven’t seen the male since June.

Flavio Fernandes, Vineyard Rd. July 13, two red-tailed hawks on deck railing, one drinking water from a container and calling parents.

Debbie Prato, Hayrick Lane. July 24, my vegetable garden has been completely devoured. July sightings: mallards, turkey with no tail, woodchuck, Baltimore oriole, crow, yellow warbler, cottontails, turkey vultures, rose-breasted grosbeaks.

Rosemarie Koester, Providence Rd. July report: lots of fledglings–fun to watch them begging for food and trying to fly to feeders. Two pairs of cardinals, two juveniles. chickadee, tufted titmouse, two blue jays, female downy woodpecker, red-bellied woodpecker, one young pileated woodpecker pecking away at a hollow tree in the woods. July 3, my first Baltimore oriole at feeder, several cowbirds, six grackles, six doves, group of red-winged blackbirds, males, females, juveniles. Male and female hummingbirds at two feeders. They are territorial and will chase one another off. I have to fill feeders almost every day. When I took the feeder down to fill, two hummers were at the window, looking inside for food. Bird bath is constantly in use. I put an extra dish on the ground. The birds need the water. Two mama turkeys with 8 and 12 little ones. Six gray squirrels, one or two red squirrels, chipmunks, garter snake, several rabbits, heard group of coyotes howling one night, nest of wasps in gutter.

Marian Harman, director emeritus, is a member of the Westford Conservation Trust, a non-profit conservation organization, whose purpose is the protection of open spaces and trails.