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Team Seven Chicks preparing for the nature trivia challenge

Team Seven Chicks preparing for the nature trivia challenge

Here are a few questions that stumped the teams during the nature trivia challenge at our June potluck last evening.

  • How many eyes does a grasshopper have?
  • What bird has feet so small that they can’t walk?
  • What is the color of llama milk?
  • What North American tree name contains all of the vowels?
  • What is a group of owls called?
Team Bull Moose lounging on the sofas, laughing as the challenge got started

Team Bull Moose lounging on the sofas, laughing as the challenge got started

Team Seven Chicks edged out team Bull Moose by a few correct answers after the 25+ question quiz was over. There was good natured bantering back and forth, especially after we caught onto Haley’s accounting system where correct answers went into one pile and incorrect the other.

And of course the food was great. We also re-elected officers and board members for another term!

Don’t miss the July 14th potluck where we’ll view and vote on best images submitted to the Photo Contest. Submit your photos to jcusworth@EQTL.org and see contest details at Photo Contest Submissions.

P.S. Answers to the above questions: 5, hummingbird, yellow, sequoia, parliament

Sophie's wine tastingSaturday afternoon was an extra special event at the East Quabbin Land Trust offices, thanks to Sofie Vanilla Cookie and her companion Steve. They hosted a Wine Tasting event, which was great fun and raised money for the land trust.

Attendees enjoyed all that goes with a Sofie’s Test Kitchen party: excellent home-made food paired with local wines from Agronomy Vineyard Farm from Oakham, and of course entertainment. Pictured here, the winner of the dance contest is serenaded while enjoying the view and beautiful sunny afternoon in Hardwick. Many thanks to all the attendees, and of course Sofie Vanilla Cookie and Steve!

The crew during one of our monitoring stops - listening and looking for the birds at Wendemuth Meadow

The crew during one of our monitoring stops – listening and looking for the birds at Wendemuth Meadow

Last Saturday was a beautiful morning to be out watching and listening for birds at Wendemuth Meadow and Mandell Hill. These two preserves have large grassland areas, 20 acres or more, that are cut after the first week in July. That means that any young raised in the fields have enough time to fledge before the grass is cut. Of course, we saw or heard other birds too. Here’s the list: Bobolink, tree swallow, black-billed cuckoo, barn swallow, chimney swift, eastern kingbird, American kestrel, catbird, oven bird, common yellow-throat, indigo bunting, chestnut-sided warbler, house wren, red-winged blackbird, starling, rock dove, American bluebird, English sparrow, Baltimore oriole, yellow-throated vireo, rose-breasted grosbeak, goldfinch, cardinal, American robin, red-bellied woodpecker, willow flycatcher, turkey vulture, red-tailed hawk, scarlet tanager, brown thrasher, and cedar waxwing.

There's a male bobolink in this photo. Can you find him?

There’s a male bobolink in this photo. Can you find him?

Hope you get some early morning time to head out and look for these and other birds!

 

20190427_192334The 18th Annual Dinner and Silent Auction was another great affair. It’s always a good sign when the noise volume in the room gets loud with conversation and laughter!

The musicians – Haley Hewitt, Bill Zinni, Bill Cole, Ken Levine, and guest banjo-picker Steve Brewer – shared their tremendous talents as guests joined the party and strolled through the Silent Auction items available for bidding.

IMG_2980A special thanks goes out to Pam and Ray Robinson from Robinson Farm for donating their award-winning cheeses and Cindy and Glenn Mitchell from Rose 32 Bread for donating the delicious dinner rolls. The Eagle Hill dining hall staff, under leadership of Kathey Stone-Johnson, prepared a scrumptious meal. Lots of great compliments on the food, especially the scallops with shiitake mushrooms.

This year we proudly served locally produced beer from Lost Towns Brewing in Gilbertville and wine from Agronomy Farm Vineyard in Oakham. Attendees continue to rave about having great local beer and wine to share.

A big shout out to the event sponsors, including Pioneer Valley Environmental, Atlantic Capital Strategies, Cherie Benoit Realty, Berube Real Estate, Senator Stephen Brewer, Common Grow LLC, Country Bank, Cultural Center at Eagle Hill, Dresser & McGourthy LLC, Gilbert Players, Highland Press, North Brookfield Savings Bank, Raitto Engineering, and Rose 32 Bread. Please support these businesses and thank them for being sponsors of the East Quabbin Land Trust!

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Michelle holding a block of wood that is being transformed into a crow. The kingfisher is laying on the table.

Michelle holding a block of wood that is being transformed into a crow. The kingfisher is laying on the table.

Michelle Wronski, of Barre, brought many of her finished carved birds to the April potluck supper on Sunday. But there were also birds in various states of completion so we could really see how a block of wood is transformed into a finished piece of art. She demonstrated how to carve with a knife, carefully using strokes away from your hands and body. Michelle also uses a machine carver, which works faster. That also means that you have to be careful to not take off too much wood.

Michelle is etching in feather detail on a meadowlark carving.

Michelle is etching in feather detail on a meadowlark carving.

 

Folks enjoyed meeting new friends and sharing a great supper. People of all ages came together at our offices for a wonderful evening.

Join us on Sunday, May 5th for the next monthly potluck.

Enjoying supper outdoors at the East Quabbin Land Trust offices looking out over the Ware River valley - before the black flies arrive!

Enjoying supper outdoors at the East Quabbin Land Trust offices looking out over the Ware River valley – before the black flies arrive!

 

Proud planters with their painted rocks and pollinator plants at the Mass Central Rail Trail

Proud planters with their painted rocks and pollinator plants at the Mass Central Rail Trail

Thanks to funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service and the Massachusetts Service Alliance, we had a terrific work day advancing projects to beautify and enhance the visitor experience at the Mass Central Rail Trail. Over twenty people spent the better part of the day creating a pollinator garden, cleaning up the main parking area, clearing brush and expanding the space at the pony truss for the picnic table. Additional projects will continue over the summer.

Mark and Mick setting pins to hold the timbers in place, getting ready for the picnic table

Mark and Mick setting pins to hold the timbers in place, getting ready for the picnic table

Would you be able to help water and weed the pollinator garden? We’d love your help over the summer keeping the garden in great shape. Email Cynthia at chenshaw@eqlt.org. Thanks!!

Ken and Becky getting the loam squared away before planting.

Ken and Becky getting the loam squared away before planting.

Forty town representatives from all over the East Quabbin region got together on Thursday evening to talk and share ideas about their local bylaws and how to handle to onslaught of proposals for commercial solar developments. The state incentives, currently known as SMART incentives, have pushed a new wave of development. Members of town planning board, conservation commission, solar bylaw committee and selectboard joined in the discussion. If you’d like to participate in the next conversation, which will be targeted towards concerns of Conservation Commissions, please email chenshaw@eqlt.org.

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Our March potluck featured pulled pork, pork ribs, mashed potatoes, garlic bread, roasted vegetables and much more. Lots of great eats for all! Don’t miss our next potluck on April 14th.

Joshua Bruckner from Mass DAR, highlighting the problem of invasive species.

Joshua Bruckner from Mass DAR, highlighting the problem of invasive species. Pictured here are cane toads in Australia, Asian Long-horned Beetle and Kudzu vines in the US

Then Joshua Bruckner, from Mass Dept of Agriculture brought us up to date on the Asian Long-horned Beetle infestation of Worcester. Fortunately, after almost 10 years of working on the problem it seems like the beetles are eliminated, they’re pretty sure. Last year they only removed 16 trees and the quarantine area was not expanded.  But that’s after removing thousands of ash, maple, oaks and other species that were infected. It was so many trees, that whole neighborhoods were transformed. It will take decades for the newly planted trees to grow large enough to provide the shade and habitat that was lost.

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Asian Long-horned Beetle display of adults and larvae, plus samples of trees that were affected.

Invasive species are non-native to the ecosystem. It’s those plants, animals, fungi, and other species that made their way to another part of the world, outside their natural range. In these new areas, these species can cause ecological harm. The really successful invasive species often reproduce quickly, spread easily and grow fast. And it’s the ones that combine all of these characteristics that are the hardest to control.

20190310_182354webFortunately, the Asian Long-horned Beetle doesn’t spread quickly. While the infestation in Worcester was the largest in the US, because it went undetected for a long time, it is possible to eradicate the insects. The Emerald Ash Borer is another story. The borers spread quickly. They’ve already been found across the Commonwealth. There is little we can do but monitor the changes coming to our woods.

 

Kate Hauske, program coordinator, shares the details of the Bird Habitat Assessment project with woodland owners at a session in North Brookfield on February 18th.

Kate Hauske, program coordinator, shares the details of the Bird Habitat Assessment project with woodland owners at a session in North Brookfield on February 18th.

There is a new grant fund for woodland landowners who want to create a Forest Management Plan with Bird Habitat Assessment built right into the document. Promoting wildlife is often a major goal for woodland owners. And there are many things that can be done to actively promote better and diverse bird habitat.

This special grant, funded through the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, in partnership with The Last Green Valley, MassConn Sustainable Forest Partnership and Northern RI Conservation District, can fund up to 80 Bird Habitat Plans. Click here to get more information.

The East Quabbin Land Trust plans to apply for funding assistance to complete a bird habitat plan for the Pynchon’s Grist Mill Preserve off Wickaboag Valley Road in West Brookfield. This property includes a section of Sucker Brook where wood ducks are known to nest. The upland white pine stand could use some thinning to increase plant diversity and therefore expand the number of birds that might be on the property.

We had a full house during our February 10th potluck supper. Great food and fun making collages from paste paper with Ann Hicks. Before beginning the project, Ann shared a story about creativity with the students. The story is inserted below, after the picture.

Join us for the March 10th potluck and MEET THE (asian long-horned) BEETLES and other invasive insects.

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The Kid Who “Got” Things

Copyright July 5, 2017, Florence Ann Barrett Hicks

Once there was a kid who “got” things—like the hiccups, or a friend’s corny jokes, or a stomach ache from eating too much. Last summer the kid forgot the rule about the ‘leaves of three’ and got poison ivy.

Well, one day this kid got something really special: the kid got an IDEA. Oh, it was a marvelous idea. It was a sunshine and singing birds kind of idea. It was a jump up and down and yell kind of idea. It was an electric guitar, rock and roll kind of idea. Needless to say it was a very good idea.

Now, what to do with this idea?

“I want to make it!” the kid said. It was just too good an idea to hang around un-made.

So the kid got to work, making one part, making another part and then putting the parts together. By late afternoon it was looking pretty good. It felt pretty good too, and the kid was happy.

Next came homework, dinner, brush teeth, put on pajamas, sleep, dream, wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth again, go to school, learn stuff, go home and “Oh yeah, go see the thing I made!”

But oh. What happened? The thing looked different. Somehow, the bird song, guitar solo, jump up and down idea looked sort of flat and boring.

The kid was sad now, and started to have one of those mopey days where it seemed like everything was going wrong, and there was no way to fix anything.

“What kind of stinky world is this, where good ideas can’t turn real?”

The kid kicked the dirt and pouted some more.

Wouldn’t you know it, before too long the kid’s family started giving advice.

“When something’s got you down, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work.”

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

“Face your problems head-on!”

“Discipline is the gift that keeps on giving.”

“All roads that lead to success have to first pass down ‘Hard Work Boulevard’.

Man, they had a million of them.

And then the kid got just a tiny bit angry.

“How can I get to work if I don’t know how to fix it?”

Well, now this is the part of the story where the kid gets an epiphany. Do you know what an epiphany is? It’s an idea—an idea that gives you the answer to a problem.

So the kid got an epiphany. It came out of nowhere. Suddenly the kid knew what to do.

“I don’t have to know how to fix the problem before I start working. I will find the answer BY working! I will try everything I can think of; something’s got to work.”

So the kid started making more parts. And started putting all those parts together in different ways. The kid didn’t stop making things and soon forgot about solving the problem. It was just so much fun making all that stuff. And in the end, the kid didn’t have just one magical thing—there were three—or maybe four if you put them together the other way around.

Now the kid was happy again. Not only for having made some cool things, but for learning a bit about the mystery of creativity.

How does an epiphany work? How can a solution to a problem come out of nowhere? It makes no sense. Well, believe it or not, during all that teeth brushing, dinner eating and sleeping, the kid’s brain was working on the problem.

Did you know that scientists estimate that only 2 to 5 % of our thinking is conscious? While you are doing your daily activities, the unconscious part of your brain, the other 95% or 98%, is often working to solve problems. So making things while letting your brain work out problems is an important part of creativity.

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