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Beautiful Blossoms

Apple blossoms abound in Central Massachusetts this week!

Meadowbrook Orchards, Sterling, MA
Brookfield Orchards, North Brookfield, MA
It is a banner blossom year for the Baldwin apple tree in my backyard.

Enchanted Architecture

The Enchanta Bridge at the Moore State Park in Paxton, MA was given its name by owners who felt the property was so beautiful, it must be enchanted. Originally a mill, the park features an enormous display of rhododendrons, stone mill foundations, a restored sawmill, and networks of wooded paths.

The recently updated Enchanta features traditional New England woodwork with Adirondack chairs for relaxing. Wooden ramps on either end of the bridge allow easy access for all, providing views of the waterfall, pond and woods. The park is free of charge and open year-round.

The Enchanta Bridge, Moore State Park, Paxton, MA
One side of the bridge overlooks a large pond.
Generous ramps blend in with the traditional architecture while making the bridge universally accessible.
Adirondack chairs invite visitors to relax.
The pond provides opportunities for fishing, canoeing and skating.
The waterfall as viewed from the bridge.

Pond Party

Canada Geese goslings explore both open water and pond edge environments under the watchful eyes of their parents.

Canada Geese, Princeton, Massachusetts

Flotilla

The North American River Otter and the North American Beaver cruise the Wildlife Pond at the Wachusett Meadow Audubon Sanctuary in the early evening.

“Watercolors”

Photos taken from my window with the “watercolor” setting of my point-and-shoot camera. The forsythia is such a welcome burst of color at this time of year!

Another “Bluebird”

Tree Swallows, with their deep-blue iridescent backs, are the first swallows to return to Massachusetts in the Spring. They compete with Eastern Bluebirds for nest boxes. These swallows were perched on the bluebird boxes at Wachusett Meadow Audubon Sanctuary.

A Grand Design: Beaver Architecture

Beavers build lodges from woven sticks, grasses, and moss plastered with mud. These architectural marvels can be up to 8 feet wide and 3 feet high inside. A lodge is designed with at least two underwater “doors” to provide instant swimming access, while a “skylight” hole at the top lets in fresh air. There are two main rooms inside – one near the entrance that is used for eating and drying off and another used for sleeping and raising the young. On average, between four and eight beavers live in a lodge.

Beaver Lodge, Wildlife Pond, Wachusett Meadow Audubon, Princeton, MA

Hawk Eyes

Red-tailed hawks have excellent vision; they can spot a mouse from 100 feet in the air. Hawks can see the colors that most humans can, as well as those in the ultraviolet range that humans cannot see.

Young Red-tailed Hawks, like the one pictured, have pale yellow eyes. The eyes darken to brown as the birds get older.

Historic Yankee Barn Design

Information posted at Wachusett Meadow Audubon Sanctuary’s Crocker Barn states:

“Built in 1925 by the Crocker family, this barn formerly housed a herd of prize-winning Milking Shorthorn cattle. It was designed by farm manager Paul Beardsley and was state-of-the-art for its time, featuring a ground floor milking parlor, a trussed, gambrel roof that provided vast interior space to pile loose hay (hay balers were not yet invented), and an overhead tramway system to easily move manure to a separate barn for storage. No longer present, but visible in the historic photo notice the twin silos, the four rooftop ventilators, the additional hay wagon ramp, and the small milk house in the foreground.

Currently, the Cow Barn provides storage for the materials, tools and equipment needed for sanctuary habitat management, and to maintain our trail system, buildings and grounds. Planning is underway to fundraise for renovations that would allow us to welcome visitors and program participants into this wonderful and historic space.”

The Crocker Barn, Wachusett Meadow Audubon Sanctuary, Princeton, MA.
The barn circa 1925.
Doors to a former hay wagon ramp.
Attention to detail is shown on this simple but effective shingle design.
The cow barn is massive compared to the nearby sheep barn.
Fieldstone foundations are featured on both barns.
A section of the outsized doors, commonly found on New England barns.
The barn overlooks a meadow that leads down to wetlands.

This side of the barn will soon feature an all-persons viewing deck.

A Real Head-Turner

This Sharp-Shinned Hawk has no problems keeping a look-out in all directions. It can turn its head 180 degrees.

Sharp-Shinned Hawk, Princeton, MA

An Uncommon Visitor

Pine Grosbeaks usually inhabit Canada or the far West of the United States. However, this was an “irruption year”, when large numbers of the birds flew south in search of more available food. This bird took no notice of me as I walked up close to her to take pictures. Instead, she focused on an easy meal of crabapples ripe for the taking.

All-Weather Rabbits

Eastern Cottontail Rabbits do not hibernate in the Winter; they are active all year. These rabbits were seen daily near the bird feeders, in all types of weather, often sharing fallen seeds with the sparrows.

Eastern Cottontail Rabbit, Wachusett Meadow Audubon Sanctuary, Princeton, MA

Otter Pond

This photograph recently appeared on Massachusetts Audubon’s weekly Facebook feature, “Weekend Goals”. Wishing you a relaxing weekend!

Otter Pond, Wachusett Meadow Audubon, Princeton, MA

Eastern Towhee

Towhees usually stay hidden in the undergrowth, but this brave one ventured out to a nearby bird feeder, hopping on both feet to snatch up fallen seeds.

A Red Barn For All

This barn dating back to the 1800s is a Holden, MA landmark. The structure, with almost eight surrounding acres and a pond, was donated to the town in 2000. Now maintained by the non-profit organization, The Friends of the Red Barn, it is a center that helps people understand New England’s agricultural past while encouraging the appreciation of nature.

Six gardens are maintained on the plot by member/volunteers, and markers around the site educate visitors about the farm’s history. Farm Days offer a wide variety of events to experience farm life close up.

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