Archive for June, 2005

Lydia Rogers wrote and said that the fish we saw during her walk likely were sunfish.
I bet she is correct.
My children fished with me in the pond several times and I do recall seing some sunfish, but nothing big enough to keep.
– Allan

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Dragon-flies hatching on the Mill Brook today

(at the confluence of Walden and Sandy Ponds)

Yes, Virginia, Walden Pond and Sandy Pond waters do meet in the Mill Brook after flowing into Fairyland pond and Crosby’s pond.  They flow under Cambridge Turnpike and merge just east of the Mill Brook Farm nursery.  Careful examination of the Mill Brook map illustrates the path of outflows from each of the ponds, meeting in the Mill Brook and serving as sources for much of its water.

This junction is also the bridge from which my son Peter caught rainbow trout while fishing from the road over the Mill Brook twenty years ago.  I suggest that Concord resume having the state fisheries stock the Mill Brook near the Heywood Bridge as was true in the past.  Survival of trout represents one measure of the health of a stream, especially one fed by two springs.


Peter’s fishing hole is quite close to the otter pool that I discovered while guided by Lydia Rogers two weeks ago.  Ever since when I pass over this bridge I find new meaning or suspicion when the water roils as my wife and I walk past.  (Was that an otter, beaver, muskrat, fish, turtle, or just a decaying vegetation gas bubble?) 


But today it was different: dragon flies swarmed over the water’s surface.  Could have been the first hatch of the season?  Reminded me of the time I walked into my back yard the just as my bees had swarmed out their hive to mate with the queen and then attach themselves as a dense bee swarm to a nearby tree.    

 " What was he doing, the great god Pan,
Down in the reeds by the river?
Spreading ruin and scattering ban,
Splashing and paddling with hoofs of a goat,
And breaking the golden lilies afloat
With the dragon-fly on the river. "

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. "The Allegash and East Branch" (1864) in The Maine Woods (1864), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 3, pp. 278-279, Houghton Mifflin (1906).)

The French call dragon-flies "demoiselles."
— Thoreau (Journal – Nov. 4, 1852)



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Magic in the Mill Brook along Thoreau’s Trail


Otters, owls, animal tracks, fish and edible wild plants with Lydia Rogers


Riverfest on 6/122005 included: “Mill Brook Explorations. Take a guided natural history tour with wildlife tracker Lydia Rogers along portions of the Thoreau Amble, a new trail winding through fields and woods along the Mill Brook that were once traversed by Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. The walk is limited to 10 people.”

See http://www.sudbury-assabet-concord.org/riverfest/riverfestEvent.html


I saw through new eyes wonders of nature I had walked through many times with my wife, Ellen and our seven children for the last 30 years.  But today we learned secrets of where to look and what to look for in nature. 


Today as we walked and were coached by Lydia Rogers she helped us find the banks an otter pool in the Mill Brook where we looked at fish scales in the otter scat.


Also saw remnants of an owl’s meal plus owl scat containing fur and the regurgitated jaws and teeth from the owl’s meal.  All at the base of the largest diameter tree I have ever seen in the Mill Brook, probably home to the owl.


Lydia taught us how coyote tracks are all in a line because it is a “working animal”, I have often seen them in the snow on my winter walks, sometimes mixed with red drops of blood from winter mice.


We watched fish (small mouth bass?) near the Fairyland Pond dam that were guarding their eggs in shallow pools, Lydia says the male fish often assume that role after his mate has deposited the eggs in a sandy dish they create with their tails.

 I recall seeing fish doing exactly that last year in Fairyland Pond at the same location in the northeast corner of the pond.


I saw beautiful examples of yellow birch, black birch, and white birch trees. 

The bark texture varied with the age of the tree from smooth for young trees to course and flaky for older birch.


Several dens at the base of older trees were examined but a decision regarding their likely inhabitant(s) (fox, woodchuck, skunk, etc) was not determined.


Wild berries (an acquired taste) were sampled and tree bark was etched and inhaled to experience each tree’s signature fragrance.


In filling out Lydia’s evaluation questionnaire I learned of http://www.maccweb.org/index.html

Take a look and check out their 2005 Biodiversity Day events, impressive.


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Two turtle encounters this week. 


One youngster (about 4 inch diameter) trying to cross Cambridge Turnpike near  the Mill Brook’s  Cambridge Turnpike crossing area, just east of the Mill Brook Farm nursery.


It had only moved about 12 inches from the edge of the road bordering the Mill Brook.


Its chances of making it across a 2 lane highway at 9 AM were zero.


I was able to reach across the guard rail and pick up the turtle and toss it back into the brook about 10 feet away.  It landed with a splash and lived to swim on. 


Ellen and I sauntered on our morning walk glad that we will not see the remains of that turtle where I first saw it live on Cambridge Turnpike.


Three days later we are again making our rounds on Hawthorne Lane at its Mill Brook crossing area and I saw a short wet log on the edge of the road abutting the brook.


Then I realized it was a fat snapping turtle (12 inch diameter) fresh from the water and probably looking to build a nest and lay her eggs.  It is that time of year, happens every year. 


Three years ago a similar sized snapping turtle was found in our back yard garden by my son-in-law Tony.  When he picked it up it screamed and clawed like an angry mother.  Tony carefully set the turtle on the ground and it headed off to the Mill Brook tributary that borders the garden. 



Friday, June 10, 2005



for an excellent snapping turtle information source see:


For images see:



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Red Wing Blackbirds have returned to the Mill Brook’s  Cambridge Turnpike crossing area, just east of the Mill Brook Farm nursery.  They appoear remarkably friendly, allowing for many close-up views.


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Mill Brook Flowers on display (June 2005)


A remarkable display of Clintonia Borealis can be seen on the grounds of the Concord Museum (near the parking lot). 


The wetland south of the Cambridge Turnpike crossing was named Clintonia Swamp by Henry Thoreau after the plant Clintonia borealis, also called blue bead-lily.


See: http://www.concordnet.org/dplm/MB%20Brochure.pdf


Mill Brook flower lovers also may see (during June) a stunning  display of native yellow Irises in profuse bloom on both sides of Cambridge Turnpike near the Mill Brook crossing just east of the current Mill Brook Farm nursery.


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