Nature Notes

cardinal flower


Cardinal flower

September 16, 2022


By Annie Reid
Westborough Community Land Trust

Celebrating nature’s special sites & special sights

What is special to see in Westborough? This, our 300th Nature Notes column, coincides with the 25th anniversary of the Westborough Community Land Trust (WCLT), which has been making Westborough better since 1997. That’s a reason to celebrate both the special and the ordinary natural sites and sights that help to create our sense of place as nature works its magic in Westborough and neighboring towns as well.

cardinal flower with spicebush swallowtail butterfly


Cardinal flower with spicebush swallowtail butterfly

Have you seen:

Everyday natural sights also contribute to our sense of place. Think of sunsets (over Mill Pond or from a MacCallum WMA hilltop), chickadees (our state bird), wild turkeys, white-tailed deer, winter juncos, woodpeckers, bluebirds, cardinals, red-tailed hawks, wild blueberries, white pines, and colorful sugar maples. Rare sightings of moose, bear, and bobcat have occurred over the years.

yellow warbler


Yellow warbler

Think of those sounds we hear as seasons pass: wood frogs at vernal (spring) pools; spring peepers; early morning birdsong; American toads; bullfrogs, green frogs, and tree frogs; cicadas, katydids, and crickets; distant howling of coyotes.

Our natural environment offers old-fashioned fun for kids, from popping seedpods of jewelweed to keeping a caterpillar in a jar until it turns into a butterfly or moth. There’s rabbit’s foot clover to feel; pineapple weed, wild mint, and checkerberry leaves to sniff; dandelion and milkweed fluff to blow; and whorls of young white pine branches to count. Things to find include deer and raccoon tracks, woolly bear caterpillars, Jack-in-the-pulpit plants, 7-petaled starflowers, blue-eyed grass, monkeyflowers, and Christmas fern.

Fall foliage at Gilmore Pond


Fall foliage at Gilmore Pond

Look for garter snakes and water snakes, painted and snapping turtles, and butterflies large and small, bright or drably camouflaged.

Nature also lets us peek into the past. Discover old-time medicinal and food uses of local wildflowers; the histories of Joe-Pye weed, boneset flowers, and American chestnut trees; the comeback stories of wild turkeys, osprey, coyotes, great egrets, and more.

Nature helped many of us get through the pandemic.

To celebrate nature this fall, check out: the ongoing WCLT 25th Anniversary 25-mile Trail Challenge; WCLT’s 25th Anniversary party on Sunday, October 2 at Nourse Farm; and WCLT’s 25th Anniversary Hike at Bowman Conservation Area (West) on Sunday, November 6, re-creating WCLT’s first organized hike. All are welcome at these events.

Report your own local nature sightings (or check out what others have seen) on WCLT's Facebook page! Find more information about enjoying nature in Westborough, including trail maps and a calendar of events, at the WCLT website

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