I went for a walk as soon as the clouds cleared this afternoon. Judging from the forecast, spring has finally arrived and the plants at the Arboretum are starting to show it. The flower buds of red maples are ready to burst. Snowdrops are the only form of snow left in the area. And crocuses have joined the snowdrops in flower, two weeks later than last year.
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.
I didn’t let summer’s final gasp of heat and humidity deter me from a walk in the Arboretum on Wednesday, although, after a month-long break in 90-degree heat, I felt like I was experiencing the first hot day of the season. I spotted a nursery web spider (Pisaurina mira) biding its time under a leaf. Note how it rests with its two front legs touching each other.
This spider has a dark stripe running down the middle that is bordered by a white margin, which undulates along its abdomen. Also note the white hairs along its body and the black spines on its legs.
Late last week, I went to the Explorers’ Garden on Bussey Hill on a pleasant, sunny day. A few butterflies passed me by but did not perch. The eastern kingbird below paused at a the top of a crabapple tree. In about a month, this kingbird will probably make its way to South America for the winter.
I found this white-dotted prominent caterpillar (Nadata gibbosa) crawling across Meadow Road yesterday. A green caterpillar with an opaque, lighter green face, it is covered with white dots. This one had two brown patches on it, perhaps some sort of infection?
Exploring in the meadow of the Arnold Arboretum last weekend, I came upon this giant water bug (Belostoma sp.). This large insect — they named it “giant” for a reason — preys on creatures as large as small fish. It can inflict a very painful bite, and so is also called toe biter. Thanks to John Epler for the ID.
On my walk around Ward’s Pond last week, I saw a pair of hungry baby robins eagerly awaiting food from their parents.
The Pond’s boardwalk, which had been shut down for years, has been re-opened. According to the July 22 edition of Boston’s City Record, the 250-foot boardwalk was damaged by storms in 2010. Its restoration by the Boston Parks and Recreation Department, to the tune of $111,000, was funded through FEMA’s Disaster Recovery Assistance Fund and the Mayor’s Capital Plan. Continue reading →
Can Southern magnolia trees survive in Boston? I thought not. Even the Arboretum’s own Bulletin of Popular Information, didn’t think so, saying in May of 1911 that Magnolia grandiflora is “not hardy at the north.” That changed in 1983, when a tree was planted behind the Visitor Center. More accessible, however, is a tree just off Meadow Road behind a red maple. Planted in 1998, this cultivar — Bracken’s Brown Beauty — is doing very well.