Jef led three of us on an urban nature walk around a very urban beach. Savin Hill Beach in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston is bordered by Interstate 93 and William Morrissey Boulevard. We were surprised at the diversity of water birds we found, including a few I hadn’t previously seen in the Boston area.
A great egret, yellow bill and black legs, takes off from its perch on the Dorchester Yacht Club. Two of these egrets graced the beach.
A great blue heron comes in for a landing. This photo makes it look like the bird comically slipped on a banana.
A couple of greater yellowlegs wandered the shore.
At one point, all three of the above birds stood close to each other, making for a nice size comparison.
A few double-crested cormorants dove for fish.
A pair of American crows duked it out mid-air.
A solitary semipalmated plover also made the checklist for the day.
We found a couple of periwinkles and dying green crabs in the salt marshes. But most of these creatures were on or under the rocks in Malibu Beach, across the street. We found a common periwinkle there crawling on a broken piece of porcelain.
We also found a few green crabs (Carcinus maenus), one of which Jef picked up.
The skeleton of a large fish lay drying on the rocks.
An area landmark, a National Grid gas tank painted in rainbow colors, stood not too far away. The work by Corita Kent is entitled Rainbow Swash.
Back to Savin Hill Beach, we found a number of salt-tolerant plants. Sea lavender (Limonium carolinianum) with its dark green basal leaves was in flower, although the plant looked a little dry.
Jef tasted the cylindrical projections of this saltwort plant (Salicornia). “Salty,” he said. The projections, which resemble alien fingers, range from green to red, and are edible.
Seaside goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens) bloomed profusely at the beach’s edge.
This salt-tolerant goldenrod has waxy leaves that lack teeth, and showy flowers.
Beach rose (Rosa rugosa) has developed its red fruit, called rose-hips.
Trees lined an area across the boardwalk. One of them, hackberry (Celtis) is fairly rare in Boston. It is easily identifiable by its bark, which develops dark warts.
A number of wildflowers grew underneath the trees. Jef identified this plant with light blue flowers as blue wood aster (Aster cordifolius).
Our native pokeweed (Phytolacca americana) had plenty of dark purple berries on it.
Jef pointed out the dried seed pods of the money plant (Lunaria annua). This non-native is planted in the belief that it will make the gardener money, its seed pods resembling silver dollars.
Asiatic dayflower (Commelina communis), a popular ornamental, held its small blue blooms. Each flower blooms during the morning for a single day, hence the common name.
Finally, the ever-invasive Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) has started to bear fruit.
I only photographed one insect on this walk: the larva of an Asian multi-colored beetle (Harmonia axyridis). This orange and black creature with double-tipped spines looks nothing like a ladybug, but avidly consumes aphids just as the adults do.
Thanks to Jef for leading another entertaining and educational walk on this beautiful day.