I Am Rescued by the Sudbury Police and Fire Departments!

Have you ever gone for a stroll in the woods that didn't go all that well? Of course you have. Stuff happens, as they say, and it happens to everyone. But have you ever needed to be rescued from the deep, dark woods by police officers and firemen at 9:00 at night? That happened to me last Friday night, and I still don't understand why it happened.

I went to Sudbury to discuss a bird blog I'm helping to build for the Sudbury Valley Trustees. They are one of my favorite local conservation organizations, and very big around here. I took this photo of an Eastern Phoebe at Wolbach Farm, which is SVT's headquarters.

After the meeting I headed over to Great Meadows NWR in Sudbury. It took all of five minutes to drive there, and I arrived about 5:30 PM. I checked the sign that said the trails were open from dawn to dusk before I entered the parking lot. There were about 7 white trucks and SUVs with National Fish and Wildlife logos in the parking lot. I wondered why there were so many vehicles in the lot when the Nature Center was closed, but I only thought about it for two seconds. Then I saw three Wood Ducks right at the shore, and I fired up the camera and went after them.
I have yet to get a good look at a Wood Duck, never mind a good picture. I am in love with them. They are so beautiful - male and female both! I stare hungrily at other people's Wood Duck photos whenever I can. I had seen a few flying away when I was at Great Meadows earlier in the week, and that's why I returned on Friday afternoon. They were there, too. I must of seen a dozen Wood Ducks in less than an hour, but every one was flying off in a panic by the time I noticed them. One was up in a tree behind me, and she scared me half to death when she started squawking and flapping. There were two sitting in the middle of the path near the parking lot, and I jumped a mile when they flew up in front of me, too. No wood duck photos were coming out of this trip!

I was back at my car by 6:30, but just when I finished packing up the camera and the monopod I looked up to see a deer at the edge of the parking lot. He was looking back at me, too. Since he didn't appear to be running away, I unpacked the camera and took a few shots. That's when I noticed the that gate looked as if it were closed. Since it was a good hour before sunset, I figured it must be an optical illusion. But guess what? The gate was indeed locked. It was a very big metal gate, too. I was locked in.

At first I was not at all worried. The trucks and SUV's were still there, for one thing. I also knew that whoever had locked the gate must have seen my car in the parking lot, and they wouldn't have locked me in unless there was a way out. I called the big nature center/ house three or four times, but no one answered and the voice mail wasn't working right. I knocked at the door (the house was lit up inside and out, BTW), but no one answered.  It got darker and colder and scarier  with every passing minute.  Eventually I was desperate enough to try driving my little first generation Honda CRV down the trail and over the hill, but the trail turned into stairs and the hill was much steeper than it looked. 

beaver at night
I heard splashing as I sat despondently in the darkness of my car, which sounded like something BIG was coming to get me. That's when I learned that Beavers are really MUCH LARGER than muskrats. I's say at least three times the size, if this one was any indication. I had to use the on camera flash, which didn't cut it, but I did get pictures of him chewing through a big branch and then swimming off with the wood.

I didn't get a picture of his tail, but I saw it and it was as flat as Kansas. If nothing else, I learned how to distinguish between muskrats and beavers. I also learned that beavers are nocturnal, which was news to me.

To make a long story short, I'll skip ahead to the moment when I was spotted by a passing Sudbury Police Officer who was nice enough to turn around and see if I needed help (or maybe he though I was a criminal!) In any case, this officer was incredibly nice about the whole situation. He never acted the least bit annoyed, even though he had to make dozens of calls to find someone who could open the gate. I was mortified to learn that the Fire Department had to be called out because no one else had a key. But the Fireman who arrived was also very kind and patient, and shortly thereafter I was on my way home.


Earth Day 2010

wild turkey broadmoor 2
The Nature of Framingham is a celebration of the amazing variety of birds and wildlife that can be found in an urban setting like Framingham, Massachusetts.

ruddy duck
In 2010 alone, I have seen at least seven bird species that I never knew existed - never mind living in Framingham itself! I saw Common Mergansers, Goldeneyes, Ruddy Ducks, Brown Creepers, Buffleheads, Wood ducks, and a Green Winged Teal this year - and I saw twice as many new-to-me species last year. All these fantastic birds are reason enough for celebration, right?

As happy as I am about the thriving nature of Framingham, I cannot deny that whenever I go birding I am wading through mountains of trash that is disgusting, to put it mildly. Every day I walk through it, and every day I am either sitting on it or surrounded by it. Framingham may be teeming with wildlife and birds, but it is far from a pristine environment.

 The river is polluted and fish from the river or the reservoirs cannot be eaten.  The mercury levels are outrageous, and nothing we do has any effect at all.  The groundwater is contaminated, which means the soil is contaminated, which means everything that grows out of that soil is contaminated to some degree.

How about celebrating Earth Day by making a contribution to Mass Audubon?  Your generosity will allow them to protect the Nature Of Massachusetts.  Even a small donation will be much appreciated, and the need is great.  All you have to so is click here to make a gift that will help save our little corner of the world.  We can't close our eyes to the wreckage, but we can help to undo some of the damage.  Please consider making an Earth Day gift to the planet by giving a little something to the Massachusetts Audubon Society.  No gift is too small to make the world a better place.

Here is the link, and I thank you for giving something back to the future:  http://www.firstgiving.com/susanwrublewski

Happy Earth Day to All!


Survivor Massachusetts?

Think of it as 'Survivor Massachusetts.'  Mass Audubon's Bird-a-thon is a 24 hour competition to count as many Massachusetts bird species as possible.  There are 26 teams battling each other and battling the elements.  The competition is fierce, and the conditions can be brutal.
Bird-a-thon is never cancelled due to weather.

Team members might be faced with heavy rains and driving winds, forced to huddle under tarps or tattered umbrellas while desperately peering through raindrops in search of birds that don't move or sing when it's raining, anyway.
We might be facing flood conditions again, forced to trudge through slimy, swirling water or trying vainly to keep upright on steep slopes of squelching, foot-sucking mud. 

A heat spell means rivulets of sweat dripping from every pore.  And no matter what the weather, there are hazards waiting to strike around every corner.  Mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, bees, flies, and mayflies are everywhere.  Deer ticks are ubiquitous and bloodthirsty in May, and each one that bites brings the threat of Lyme disease.   
Not to mention poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac, stinging nettles, impenetrable thorns, razor sharp beach grass, and so on.  You know, all the normal outside stuff. 

What do you have to do?  Nothing, really.  Just click here to make a donation to support our team and to support Mass Audubon.  Give whatever you can afford.  Remember that the habitat we are trying to protect is your habitat, too! 


Buffleheads. My first sighting!

bufflehead male female
Pretty poor photos, but a lifelister species for me!

bufflehead male and female 1
According to a friend of mine, if it is your first sighting you can post poor quality pics without penalty.

bufflehead male and female
These are definitely Buffleheads! My very first Buffleheads!

bufflehead male and female dive
Buffleheads are diving ducks (as opposed to dabbling ducks like the mallards). Here the male takes a dive . . .

bufflehead female
Leaving the female alone for a moment or two.


Easter Flowers Blooming

easter flower
Looked at the garden and saw my first real flowers on Easter day! This one looks like a very pale daffodil.

easter daffodil
This one is a normal color daffodil. Very pretty.

purple wildflowers
These are probably nothing special, but they are cool looking up close. They look like little blue bells.

Happy Easter, everyone!

Easter Greetings!

Happy Easter!


Great Blue Herons as Art

Floating Heron

Heron Floating

Great Blue Glide

Lighter Than Air

Note: These are edited photographs and not original artwork


Turkey Vulture - Very Close Up!

turkey vulture roadside
I pulled over so fast I'm lucky I didn't get in an accident. Then I took the picture through my filthy windshield. But how could I resist a Turkey Vulture on route 20 in Sudbury?

muskrat swimming
Sudbury is flooded. (Today it is probably submerged completely.) This used to be a golf course and now it is a lake. A lake with muskrats, no less.

muskrat sudbury
There were at least three muskrats swimming around and climbing in and out of the water within a few feet of me. Here is one of them sitting up.