Friday, September 23, 2016

UNW: Stony Brook Reservation

My latest monthly nature walk group went to Stony Brook Reservation.  One of 5 large "Reservation" parks in the Boston area.   Stony Brook itself used to be a larger waterway, flowing all the way to the Charles, providing power (and water) to many breweries throughout the JP area.  (That's where Stony Brook orange line stop got it's name).  Most of the brook now runs in culverts under ground, and most of the breweries are now condos.

As with many parks I explored this summer, it doesn't take long for the city to disappear and the forest to engulf you.   This was the path into the woods.   I'm all of 10 feet from the main road (Washington St, Dedham) and the bus stop.

The road in
Lawrence Path

It's a good thing I decided to take this path.   There's a main road through the park - Enneking parkway.   While it goes right through the reservation, it isn't very park friendly.  No sidewalks, and barely enough room on one side of the road to walk if you had to.   Cars speed by faster than the speed limit, so walking close the road is a bit dangerous.  Taking a path into the park is definitely preferred.   Stangely enough, if you drive it's allowable to park on the side of the road to visit the park.  No clue how accidents don't happen all the time.

Turtle Pond is the main body of water on the north side of the park.   Its still the source of Stony Brook, although the brook goes underground after running through the park.  The pond is supposed to be for fishing only, but the dock makes a convenient swimming hold for the locals (a few were swimming while we were there).    While nice, the dock itself needs some TLC.   Not sure how much upkeep the DCR does in the park.   We did see evidence of tree maintenance, but the dock, well.

Dock of the Pond
Southern Dock at Turtle Pond

Under this dock is some marshy area, where we spotted some wildlife.   Nothing exciting, but I'm a city boy, and we don't see much.   :)


Painted Turtle
Painted Turtle

After investigating the dock, we walked the path around the pond.  A nice walk, but with the drought in Mass, there wasn't a lot going on.  Less wildlife than usual.  Much of the marsh area was little more than wet mud.  Most of the trees and bushes looked a bit distressed.

Much beauty around the pond

Unfortunately, not everyone respects nature 

The monthly walks give me a chance to go exploring with a different group of folks - some I know from previous walks, and always a few new faces.  This trip we had an entomologist and a lepidopterist.  How often do you see people come to a nature walk with a butterfly net?

On this walk, looking for wildlife meant turning over leaves and rocks to see what we could see.  Again, the dry weather meant fewer insects, but we did make a few interesting finds.

Orgyia leucostigma
Orgyia leucostigma

While I did help find bugs and caterpillars, I'll always enjoy the trees and solitude of a forest.  Stony Brook Reservation provides a nice mix.  Lots of trails (well used and well marked).   Some forest was very walkable off-trail, while other area had so much ground cover it can barely see through it.   Plus, I'm terrible at identifying poison ivy.  It never seems to look like the photos.

Always remember to look up...

This month was a last minute walk, concentrating around the Turtle Pond area of the reservation (North End of the reservation).  The park itself was very nice, and only a short bud ride from the end of the subway.  But I feel I only scratched the surface of the Reservation.  I definitely want to head back when I have more time, and its not blazingly hot outside.  There are plenty of trails and forest there left to explore.

See all the photos from this walk on my Flickr album.

Visit (and join?) the Boston Urban nature Walk facebook page.

Turtle Pond

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