We have endured a colder-than-normal winter in Boston and so any sign of spring is much celebrated. On March 1, we counted over a hundred American robins near Meadow Road in the Arboretum. While the number might be unusual, robins in and of themselves are not a true sign of spring. Many overwinter in the area.
Today, however, we saw and heard our first male red-winged blackbirds. These birds are a more reliable indicator that winter is waning. Coincidentally, today was the nicest day we have had all year, with balmy temperatures and clear skies. The cold will soon return, but so will more of the red-winged blackbirds, and spring will win out. Continue reading →
I went for a brief walk in the Arboretum today. After a couple of nights where the temperature had dropped below freezing, this afternoon was bright and sunny, hitting 60 degrees. A breeze over the meadow carried with it countless cottony seeds.
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.
We passed a kousa dogwood tree (Cornus kousa) on Parley Ave yesterday afternoon. The ripening fruit look like berries. They are edible, but don’t taste so great.
Kousa dogwoods are native to east Asia and their fruits differ from our local flowering dogwood in that they are compound and much larger. It is possible that these fruits evolved this way to appear more appetizing to macaque monkeys, who would eat the fruit and disperse the seeds.
Honey locust trees in Christopher Columbus Park near Long Wharf have already started to turn. A good number of their leaflets were yellow this afternoon. Most of the honey locust trees in the city are still green, but probably not for too long.
I passed a European alder tree (Alnus glutinosa) on Willow Path at the Arnold Arboretum a couple days ago (accession 1399-73*B), and noticed that many of its branches were covered in a white fungus/mold-like substance. Upon closer inspection, the mold moved!
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.