Saturday, March 28, 2015

A New Adventure: Alley Pond Environmental Center

     I have only visited Alley Pond Environmental Center (APEC) once before, and it was in 2007, and I had a red-tail hawk sitting on my glove while a politician held some kind of event for some local kids who won awards about projects they did involving birds. I didn't get to really check the place out fully, and always meant to come back. Well, here we are, 2015, and I had the chance to check out the trails and see what this area had to offer.
     Also, it's important to note, it's March 28th- it was snowing when I arrived, I had to wear hat, scarf, gloves, and probably should have done another layer. What was I saying about signs of spring yesterday??
     Enjoy the sights...
From the parking lot of APEC, you can walk out onto a nice boardwalk that takes you out to a tidal salt marsh. It must be an absolute joy to watch this marsh slowly come to life and turn green into the summer and grow tall with grasses!
I am ALWAYS so happy to see cattails. These plants play such an important role in the wetlands, they provide a natural filtration for runoff that might make its way into the waterway they grow along. Cattails are having a tough time against the invasive reed, phragmites.
When these cattails go to seed, they explode this fluffy seed that can take to the air to disperse. Birds use the fluff also to line their nests. 
The cattail nemesis... phragmites.
I love trails that look like they are transporting you into some kind of magical place...
A downy woodpecker was feeding on these little seed pods in this tree. He would dangle upside down to get into each nook and cranny with his little beak.
Another downy takes flight from the area.
I always love finding a new bird! This is a Rusty Blackbird. I was intrigued by it because I knew it wasn't a grackle, because of its short tail, and there were 5 or 7 birds calling, sounding nothing like grackles.
An awful picture, but you can at least see the lovely colors his dark feathers are secretly hiding.
A floofy little song sparrow, hopes that this wintry weather will soon pass.
Surprise sneaky flyover by a red tail hawk!
Little birdie feet in the mud of the salt marsh at low tide.
My first greater yellowlegs of the year. What a lovely, leggy creature they are!

Ever see those yellowlegs get stretched? 
APEC is a very cool place, whether as a family or with a friend, I recommend a visit! It looks like once it turns warmer the trails will really come to life as they green up and more animals start to stir. Go on your own adventure: http://www.alleypond.com