whitney and thayer woods (including turkey hill) in cohasset/hingham: i always have good luck whenever i visit (1 2 3 4), i'm always guaranteed to see something new. there's also a long rhododendron path i've never seen in full bloom so more the reason to go again. bruce and i left cambridge around 11am, first getting some gas, then making sure to avoid harvard square (where students were graduating today) as we made our way south to 93 then onto route 3. traffic was excellent for the most part and we managed to avoid any sort of delay. we parked on turkey hill. the weather was warm enough to be pleasant yet still cool enough to wear something long-sleeved, which we'd need to avoid the mosquitoes. nevertheless, we sprayed anyway, just our hands and faces.
to try to explain what we saw would be futile; it's better to let the photos speak for themselves. we did see a male rose-breasted grosbeak, and further down the trail who spotted a
black-headed grosbeak eastern towhee (updated 6/13 - thanks for the id, zach!), a first for me. initially i thought it was a robin since it had an orange breast, and was even congregrating with several robins. but looking through the monocular it was obviously something entirely different, and bruce was able to identify it from the field guide he was carrying in his backpack.
we encountered a large mass of bright orange chicken mushroom growing from a fallen log. when i first saw it i thought it was a trick of the light, maybe the sun was reflecting off of a large boulder. when we finally stood next to it however we able to see it was quite real. chicken mushroom is edible but anything so shockingly bright just screams poisonous to me.
the rhododendrons were definitely in bloom but not to the point we'd expected. somehow in my mind i imagined the path completely enveloped with pink flowers, but the different flowering bushes planted there each bloom during a different time so it's very difficult to get them to synchronize their colors.
pink ladyslippers littered the forest floor, with their grotesque alien-like flowers. their display is ephemeral and soon there will be nothing left but pairs of petals.
we had lunch on a sunny outcropping on the top of a small hill dotted with glacial erratics. a large toad greeted us before it hopped away underneath some rocks. it was a good spot to rest, sunny enough to keep the mosquitoes away, surrounded by pink ladyslippers.
after we made it through milliken path and had our lunch on the hill, we made our way back to the entrance at turkey hill. we cut across the abandoned railroad tracks (the last time we were hear this whole area was flooded) to the tract of meadow space below the water tank. in the distance we could see the boston skyline.
and what is naturing without insects? i saw several firsts: ringlet butterflies, ctenophora crane fly, bee-mimicking robber fly, and a giant ichneumon wasp (megarhyssa atrata) with the longest ovipositor i've ever seen in an insect. the tiger beetles are out and there were several species of dragonflies that were if i was naturing alone i'd spend a good deal of time stalking to get good photos. out in the meadow there were lots of milkweed but none in bloom, therefore no monarch butterfly caterpillars to collect.
we left at 3pm, stopping at a gas station so bruce could get a cold bottle of water (i went with a grape soda drink). surprisingly, we encountered traffic when we headed back home, but nothing that grounded us to a halt, just slow near-bumper-to-bumper congestion. after we passed the gas tanks however, the traffic picked up again. we skirted by the periphery of harvard square but still couldn't avoid seeing the hordes of graduates along with friends and families marching through town. bruce was able to identify the degree from the gown they were wearing.
before i had a chance to take a shower, i made a quick run to the garden to water the plants. more weeds have started to sprout out. i need to find a mulching solution soon, and get some fertilizer for the vegetables.
after my shower i finally checked e-mail. naturally on the day when i'm not at home, client S encounters an emergency crisis related to the code. after i checked it on my end, there didn't seem to be any problem, so maybe it was just a false alarm. in the meantime, i watched the end of the red sox athletics game and saw curt schilling almost pitch a perfect no-hitter game.