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Wachusett Meadow

A meadow is an area with shallow ground water that allows grasses and wildflowers to flourish. Meadows support a wide range flora and fauna that could not thrive in other habitats, including flowers for native bees and other pollinators.

A recent ramble through this habitat at Mass Audubon’s Wachusett Meadow enabled me to study and appreciate the flowers and grasses up close. In turn, three common meadow creatures kept an eye on me as I walked.

Eastern Bluebird
Common Purple Vetch and Other Meadow Grasses
Wild Turkey

Red-winged Blackbird
Common Milkweed

For more information visit: https://www.massaudubon.org/get-outdoors/wildlife-sanctuaries/wachusett-meadow

To learn more about meadow habitats, visit http://www.magnificentmeadows.org.uk/conserve-restore/importance-of-meadows

All Are Welcome

It’s turkey time at the Wachusett Meadow Audubon in Princeton, MA.

Wachusett Meadow Audubon Sanctuary
A group of thirteen baby turkeys, also called poults, strolled with their mother last evening at the Wachusett Meadow Audubon. Starting at the visitors’ entrance, they ambled across the front porch and over the lawn. Their destination? Bird feeders with fallen seeds underneath.

A Home For All Seasons

A beaver lodge is built for any kind of weather.

A summer evening is the best time to view beavers cruising the Wildlife Pond at Wachusett Meadow Audubon, but the beaver lodge at one corner of the pond is picturesque in all seasons. Canada geese are especially attracted to this home on the water.
Lodge in Summer
Fall
Winter
Spring

A Regal Visit

This stately Ringed-neck Pheasant dramatically paused on a high stone wall for a few moments. His flamboyant red face mask and iridescent blue neck feathers were clasped by a white neck ring. Completing this regal couture was a train of extravagantly long golden brown tail feathers edged with dark brown bars. After posing gracefully over the rocks, he exited with dignity into the nearby meadow.
I hereby name him, “The Posh Prince”.

Ringed-neck Pheasant, Wachusett Meadow Audubon, Princeton, MA

Nature’s Stitchwork

The Mountain Laurel is native to the eastern United States, and was first recorded in America in 1624.

Mountain Laurel is in full bloom in Massachusetts this week.
Cup-shaped buds open up to display tiny blossoms. These blossoms are sometimes said to look like miniature origami rice bowls .
Each blossom has five fused petals that surround ten stamens. Each stamen looks like a tiny half-pulled stitch.
The leaves are evergreen, providing year-round interest to the New England landscape.
The purple tones of a nearby rhododendron contrast with the pinkish laurel blossoms.
Mountain Laurels usually live for fifty to seventy-five years. Happily, this laurel in my yard is at least seventy years old, and is still going strong.

Painted (Turtle) Portraits

The Painted Turtle, common throughout Massachusetts, spends up to six hours a day basking in the sun. This turtle was doing just that at Wachusett Meadow Audubon’s Farm Pond in Princeton, MA.

This photo study includes side and straight-on views, close-up and long views, and some images that include the turtle’s vivid reflection in the water.

The turtle dipped off the log at the sound of hikers.
A close-up of some water lilies nearby.
This pond was man-made for the use of farmers when these acres were part of a large dairy farm.

A Yard For People and Rabbits

Rabbits visit my gardens each Summer. This is how we co-exist.

I expect the rabbits to appear in my yard for “Summer Vacation” any day now.
High raised beds keep the bunnies out of the Spring greens. However, they are welcome to all the lawn clover they desire.
New fencing around the pole beans and squash means the beans are off-limits to rabbits this year, as well. Sometimes they pick at the hostas nearby, and that is acceptable to me.
Tall pots encase my favorite red-blossomed Scarlet Emperor beans. The wild bleeding hearts next to the pots are plentiful, though.
Removable fencing keeps the largest vegetable bed protected, but with easy access for me.
Grow bags keep the Yukon Gold and Early Red potatoes safe. However, the clover and wild daisies left in between the bags are available for munching.
Wild strawberries are everywhere in the yard. The rabbits can eat their fill!
The cold frame provides great protection from both weather and critters in three seasons.
Kale is safe in a small enclosed garden on the edge of the woods.
Time to get some fencing around this cucumber and nasturtium tripod. If you have heard that rabbits don’t like nasturtium, don’t believe it!
The rabbits have ignored the tomatoes in previous years. Plenty of Solomon’s Seal nearby to eat instead.
Garlic has not caught the rabbit’s fancy, either. But will they go for the lettuce purposely planted among it? Stay tuned…
Hopefully, this blue bucket will protect the eggplant. Wild Strawberry is nearby as an alternate selection.
Thank goodness the blueberry bush is out of reach! Alas, the birds are drawn to it like magnets.
A restful area for both people and critters.
One final touch added after the garden is planted.
Wishing you wonderful times outdoors this season!

Pond Party

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

Canada Geese, Princeton, Massachusetts

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.

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

Winter Woods Gem

Encountering this unexpected “treasure” enhanced a recent Winter hike.

Beaver Bend Trail, Wachusett Meadow Audubon Sanctuary, Princeton, MA

Through the Seasons

This beloved Northern Red Oak at the Wachusett Meadow Audubon in Princeton, MA delights all year round.

Spring
Summer
Fall
Winter

Here’s Looking at You

This brilliantly colored Scarlet Tanager paused outside my window for a short while today, just in time to be added to the bird count of Massachusetts Audubon’s Bird-a-thon.

Mass Audubon explains that “its largest fundraiser brings together supporters from across the state to raise essential funds for nature conservation, education, and advocacy”.

Because of the virus, this year all sightings were completed from the areas right around the participants’ homes.

Oriole Arrival, Part 2

This Baltimore Oriole pair chatter as they flash through the yard, pausing for a drink before heading to the nearby forsythia bush.

Oriole Arrival

The first Baltimore Oriole of the season cautiously checked in at the feeder in between rain showers today.

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