this was my second outing to moose hill sanctuary in sharon and once again the place doesn't disappoint when it comes to seeing something new. the first time i came here was one cold and wet spring day 2 years ago, where i saw a grey tree frog for the very first time. this time, on an exceptionally warm and nice spring day, i saw a bluebird for the very time as well as fairy shrimps in a vernal pool, a first as well.
the bluebird i saw by the field near billings loop. wooden posts dotted the landscape, each one with a nestbox attached. from a distance i could see a small bird perched on top of a post. it moved and a flash of red caught my eyes. i thought maybe it was a male house finch, and pulled out my 8x monocular (i didn't have my binoculars today, too much gear to carry). when i saw it was a blue-colored bird, i got excited because i knew right away it was a bluebird. they're not entirely blue, and have a red breast like a robin. if i didn't check with the monocular, i wouldn't have been able to tell what it was. slowly i got out the telephoto lens and screwed it onto the camera, making sure not to make any loud noises or sudden movements that would scare away the bird, which was still maybe 100 yards away. i inched my way closer to the post while taking photos, before the bluebird flew away into the woods. i saw it again later on a different post (probably the same one).
elsewhere, i saw fairy shrimps (along the vernal pool loop). yeah, you heard me right! shrimps that actually live in the forest! not sure why i've never seen them before since i've seen vernal pools before, but it could be because it's early in the season and the animals that normally feed on fairy shrimps haven't emerged yet. the thing i know about fairy shrimps is they are an indicator species for vernal pools. they sort of remind me of sea monkeys, just larger (about an inch long), with a pink color. they swim upside-down, undulating their legs like paddles, and many of them had egg sacks near the base of the tail. although they were everywhere, i had a hard time getting any good photos because i didn't want to get my shoes wet by standing too close to the pool and the sinking mud. besides the shrimps, there were also an occasional small water beetle swimming underwater, and i also saw some mosquito larvae (i brought mosquito repellent just in case).
there was actually a lot of cars in the parking lot (about 3 dozen) but i didn't meet that many people in the woods - at least no more so than any other weekend (i've been on outings during the weekday where i don't see anybody). this month they're having special events where you can sign up (and pay) to see maple sugaring. a few trees had been tapped, a bucket hanging below to catch the dripping sap. i've seen maple sugaring before, many years with the folks from squid country safari.
just walking the vernal pond loop and the billings loop in my meandering style took up a few hours. by then it was 4pm (i had a late start) and i decided to return to cambridge. i almost died on I-95 when the car in front of me slammed on the breaks to switch lanes to get off at a missed exit. fortunately the car behind me swerved out of the way before rear-ending me. i looked across to see who the driver was of the car in front of me and realized it was an asian driver. i hate it when asians play up to stereotypes. once i was back, i did some groceries shopping and made some french bread pizza for dinner with a side of more edumame beans.