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Wendemuth Kiosk Installed

Harrison looking out one of the kiosk windows. Thank you Harrison for your hard work designing and building the kiosk.

Harrison looking out one of the kiosk windows. Thank you Harrison for your hard work designing and building the kiosk.

This summer we will install more interpretive features at Wendemuth Meadow. The first step happened yesterday with the installation of a kiosk on the old grain silo site next to the barn, at 25 Bates Street, North Brookfield. Harrison and his able crew did a tremendous job designing and building this kiosk. Thank You!! Be sure to investigate during your next time to Wendemuth.

The interpretive trail and brochure that links Wendemuth with the Town Forest Park is still in production, but should be completed by mid-summer. Just in time for the North Brookfield Youth Center summer camp, which is partially hosted at Wendemuth this summer.

The view from inside the kiosk looking over the wet meadow and hay fields beyond.

The view from inside the kiosk looking over the wet meadow and hay fields beyond.

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The 6 x 8 kiosk sits on the old silo foundation, welcoming visitors to Wendemuth!

Discovering Thoreau

Eagle Hill School students and their teacher looking at frog eggs in Fish Brook.

Eagle Hill School students and their teacher looking at frog eggs in Fish Brook.

A dozen students from Eagle Hill School spent yesterday exploring the Coxhall Kitchen Garden and Deer Park Preserve as part of their year-long exploration of Thoreau’s writings. The group did a variety of things, including building a human-sized bird nest as a piece of installation art, collecting freshwater insects from Fish Brook with Lee McLaughlin, a fisheries biologist, looking at scat and an owl pellet along the trails, and observing nature as Thoreau might have done.

It was a beautiful day to be outdoors!

Building a kiosk to install in Wheelwright at the rail trail entrance.

Building a kiosk to install in Wheelwright at the rail trail entrance.

This week, while the schools were out of session, many students were busy helping the East Quabbin Land Trust with a variety of stewardship projects.

Raking out the burn break in preparation for the prescribed burn at Frohloff Farm near the Ware River.

Raking out the burn break in preparation for the prescribed burn at Frohloff Farm near the Ware River.

  • We continued working on the loop trail along the Ware River in Wheelwright,
  • We pulled and cut invasive plants along the Rail Trail,
  • We started construction of two kiosks, to be installed this spring,
  • We raked out the firebreak at Frohloff Farm in preparation for the prescribed burn.

Thank you to all the students for their hard work and dedication! Izzy, Emma, Will, Emily, Lauren, Kayla, Sadie, Nathan, and Kyle.

Wendemuth walls exposed

Clearing brush from the wall along the wet meadow. Thanks to Harbour, Alan, Rod, Linda, Reshma, Devon, Doris, Brandon, Janine, Tate, Jason, Dick, Becky, Harrison and Cynthia

Clearing brush from the wall along the wet meadow. Thanks to Harbour, Alan, Rod, Linda, Reshma, Devon, Doris, Brandon, Janine, Tate, Jason, Dick, Becky, Harrison and Cynthia

Because of the great volunteer efforts yesterday we got a lot more walls cleaned up – both inside and outside.

One group hauled trash from the barn – broken bricks, old wood, empty used bags, and various odds and ends. The 15 yard dumpster filled right up! Now the lower level is virtually cleared out, and the front section is ready for summer campers. The East Quabbin Land Trust is partnering with the North Brookfield Youth Center summer camp program for six weeks of camp. The field component will be at Wendemuth Meadow on Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. We’re very much looking forward to having the campers and their counselors explore Wendemuth and the Town Forest this summer!

A second group got right to work cutting brush back from the rock wall on the far side of the wet meadow. It’s great to start the growing season with last year’s growth removed, keeping the wall clearly visible from the barn and Bates Street. Creating that break in bigger vegetation is also important for the prescribed burn scheduled for May. We are going to burn the wet meadow – almost 5 acres – to help control invasive plants and reinvigorate the native plants. Burning the thatch will provide a surge of nutrients to the plants, making the meadow even greener than before. We are keeping track of what is growing now and will monitor changes over time.

Reshma and Devon hard at work along the edge of the wet meadow cutting back a red maple that re-sprouted last year.

Reshma and Devon at work along the edge of the wet meadow cutting back a red maple that re-sprouted last year.

A sampling of native pollinator homes made during our hands-on workshop.

A sampling of native pollinator homes made during our hands-on workshop.

Native pollinators come in many shapes and sizes. Sunday afternoon we spent some time building structures for the tube dependent kind. Species like the Blue Orchard Mason, Grass Carrying Wasp, Metallic Green Bee, or Leaf-cutter Bee.

20160320_144234webWe created wood structures that can protect the tunnels or tubes from moisture, and then filled the space with logs or boards with holes drilled 4″ – 5″ deep of varying diameters. In between we used dried pieces of Japanese knotweed because it is hollow in the center. A participant pointed out that the pith of sumac can be removed to make a hollow. Plastic straws may also be useful. Whatever you have on hand that allows the bee or wasp to go into the hollow, but also has a closed end.

20160320_144222Thanks to all that came, worked hard and walked away with a piece of habitat that can be shared. If you want to make your own pollinator house, there are loads of ways to do it, but the recommendation is to hang or position your structure facing east or southeast so the insects are warmed by the morning sun!

The woodcocks are back and searching for mates. Listen to this one as he’s calling. You can listen for woodcocks at the Frohloff Farm, down by the river near dusk.

American Woodcock

American Woodcock

Pitch pine and group vertical

The group resting by a pitch pine that was released from competition of white pines.

The cool air temperatures didn’t matter much once we got hiking to the Hyde Woodland Preserve yesterday. After a quick ride in the back of the pickup truck we hauled chain saws, hatchets, water and snacks up the slopes of the Dougal Range. Fortunately Chris and Brian had already marked the trees they wanted girdled, and many more that ideally would be cut down.

Thanks to Michael, Renee, Dicken, Jason, Brian and Kelsey we girdled over a dozen large white pine, several multi-stemmed trees. These pines had crowded out the pitch pine along the slope near Old Stagecoach Road. It will take a year or more for those trees to die fully, but once they do so, then the pitch pines will have more light, nutrients and water to sustain their growth. We know from Brian’s investigations over the past few years, there are several rare or threatened moth species that use pitch pine in the area. We want to make sure those invertebrates continue to find pitch pine on the southwestern slopes of the Dougal Range.

The other half of our group set out on the other side of the Hyde Woodland Preserve to begin laying out a walking trail that will provide easier access to Muddy Brook. The trail layout will continue over the coming months. Starting this fall, we hope to begin work clearing the trail off of Old Gilbertville Road. Thanks to Dean, Rick, Jaye and Dave for their work starting this process!

A close up of the end result where the bark was removed all the way around a white pine, down through the cambium.

A close up of the end result where the bark was removed all the way around a white pine, down through the cambium.

 

 

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Trees or Timber?

American canopy coverThe book discussion about American Canopy, written by Eric Rutkow, had a lively back-and-forth conversation last night. It didn’t matter if you read the whole book, some parts or none at all. Everyone got into the discussion about specific tree species, historical figures or the overall premise.

We started off with a simple meal – soup and bread. After  introductions around the table the discussion soon revolved around the history of our country and the importance of trees to European settlement along the way. Was the book really about American trees? Or more focused on the economic impact of the timber resource? Who were the good guys or bad guys related to the nations forests? How did the trees impact internal politics or international relations over the centuries? Why were apple trees so important in the 1700s?

We also came up with a number of other issues, topics and people to learn more about. Thanks to all who shared their evening and thoughts about American Canopy.

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Walk around the Wall

Jason and Tom clearing outside the eastern side of the Coxhall Kitchen Garden wall.

Jason and Tom clearing outside the eastern side of the Coxhall Kitchen Garden wall.

Even though the ground was covered with snow from Friday’s storm, Rod, Linda, Tom, Jason and Cynthia worked at the Coxhall Kitchen Garden clearing the outside of the “Noble Wall” on Saturday morning. The north, east and part of the south side were engulfed in downed trees, young saplings, Japanese barberry and multi-flora rose.

Well, now you can walk around the wall!

Jason, Rod, Linda and Tom at the end of the workday with a cleared wall behind.

Jason, Rod, Linda and Tom at the end of the workday with a cleared wall behind.

When the snow melts, we’ll need to get back out there and clear out the wood that was frozen in and use brush cutters to remove more of the Japanese barberry.

Huge progress was made. Thank you to Rod, Linda, Tom, Jason and Cynthia for their hard work.

After the snow fall, looking into the opening.

After the snow fall, looking into the opening.

Abundant Signs of Wildlife

David Brown, naturalist and tracker, showing the group how to identify what type of squirrel ate which hickory nut.

David Brown, naturalist and tracker, showing the group how to identify what type of squirrel ate which hickory nut.

Today we focused on wildlife. David Brown, renowned naturalist and tracker spent the late morning and afternoon with many eager to learn more about the various animals that also call this area home. First David shared images of tracks and sign from a wide variety of animals. Then we trekked down to Deer Park Preserve on Barre Road and walk the loop trail looking for sign.

Three hickory nuts eaten by three different types of squirrels; grey, flying and red.

Three hickory nuts eaten by three different types of squirrels; grey, flying and red.

David helped us learn how to look for sign, then identify what species left the evidence, and we discussed what that sign means about how the animal was spending its day. Because there was no snow on the ground we didn’t get to go tracking, but we sure saw a lot of animal evidence!

Coyote scat deposited on a stone wall, left there as a sign for other animals to find.

Coyote scat deposited on a stone wall, left there as a sign for other animals to find.

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A bird’s nest that was hidden last summer in thick vegetation.

 

These are castings of animal prints made by David Brown.

These are castings of animal prints made by David Brown.

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