Saturday, April 26, 2008

Mosquito Season

Those of us who have been out in the woods lately have been enjoying essentially mosquito-free conditions. This is about to change! These are some photos I took of mosquito larvae & pupae in a puddle in some woods in the area (4/26/08). The small woodland pools are absolutely teeming with mosquitoes. In the closeup shot below, you can see the larvae (longer, with a distinct head) and the pupae (black cylinders). The larvae are sometimes known as "wrigglers" because the swim by twisting sideways and spinning. The pupae swim by somersaulting. Mosquitoes are flies (Class Insecta, Order Diptera, Family Culicidae). I believe that these are spring mosquitoes in the genus Aedes or Ochlerotatus)? Mosquitoes are fascinating creatures on many fronts... For information about mosquitoes in Massachusetts, including a citizens quiz, click here.

Red-bellied Woodpeckers Mating

Source: Ken Thomas

Red-bellied Woodpeckers observed mating, south Newton, 4/26/08. This species has expanded its range north in recent decades. Global warming?


Flowering Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) is a sure sign of spring. As of last Saturday (April 19) it was blooming at Hammond Woods in Newton. For a closeup photo of flowers, click here. The plant has brilliant yellow foliage and bright red berries in fall. The leaves are fragrant, when crushed (hence the name). This is a wetland plant, but, as a garden plant, it adapts well to drier soils. It's a great native shrub to include in your garden!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Vernal Pool Day

Saturday, May 10
Join Newton Community Farm & The Newton Conservators as we celebrate spring and Newton's vernal pools. Vernal pools are incredibly diverse ecosystems, supporting a wide array of amphibians, reptiles, and invertebrates. Join us as we explore vernal pool life, and discuss conservation issues facing Newton Vernal Pools.

Schedule of Events
10 - 12 Vernal Pool Walk, meet at west end of Saw Mill Brook Parkway, at trailhead to Charles River Path. We will visit several vernal pools; for those of you who attended the walk last year, we will visit different pools. Flat terrain, fairly easy walk. Adults & children welcome.

12 - 1 Take a break, or picnic at the farm

1 - 4 Vernal Pool Extravaganza at Newton Community Farm
- Adults & children welcome.
Located at corner of Winchester & Nahanton

Life in the Pond Water - come and see vernal pool critters under the microscope
Frog calls - Learn to identify frog & toad calls by ear
Frog calling contest - imitate a frog and win a prize!
Animal Display - turtles and more
Maps of Newton vernal pools
Vernal pool clothing, posters, field guides for sale
And More!

Event canceled by heavy rain - to receive cancellation notice or for additional information, email

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Peepers Calling

Breeding male Spring Peepers call during evenings in April to attract mates. This tiny frog makes a loud noise! Peepers are at the peak of their activity right now. Good places to listen for them include Hammond Woods and Nahanton Park. I was at Nahanton Park on Thursday evening, and heard quite a peeper chorus. I caught a male American Toad on his way to the breeding pond. Soon the toads will be calling as well-if they haven't started yet.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Time to see the Woodcock!

The flight display of the American Woodcock is one of our most wonderful rites of spring. As woodcocks only display for about one month in late March and April, now is the time to head for Nahanton Park at dusk to see and hear the birds. Here is a link to a nice NPR commentary on the woodcock. I once found a disoriented migrating woodcock on a sidewalk in downtown Boston. The American Woodcock Initiative by MassWildlife is working to manage and protect habitat for this species in Massachusetts