Sunday, October 11, 2009

Volunteer research needed at Hawksnest

If you know the answer to any of these questions, or want to work on the answer, please let me know.

  1. Are painted turtles declining? When I was a kid swimming at Hawksnest, at any one time you could see the little black heads of 4 or more painted turtles floating in the water around Hawksnest. On my last visit, I didn’t see any, though I swam around the entire pond. On my previous visit several years ago, I saw only one. Although they are primarily aquatic, the turtles do migrate from pond to pond across land, where they are often squashed by vehicles. Moreover, Route 6 to the north is a complete barrier to migration. Are the turtles really in decline?

  1. Does Plymouth gentian still grow near the isthmus? See the earlier article on this plant of special interest.

  2. Do any rare orchids or other threatened plants occur at Hawksnest?
  3. Which way does the groundwater flow at Hawksnest? Is the pond near the divide between N and S flow? If so, that might protect the pond from pollution of groundwater. If a large residential area with septic systems is upstream, that might threaten water quality at Hawksnest.

  4. Have Ospreys nested at Hawksnest in recent years? They are often seen on the NE bluff.

  5. Does flow of surface water between Black Pond and Hawksnest Pond present any problems? Boaters or pedestrians have established a shallow channel on the isthmus between the two ponds. When the wind blows, the water flows from Black Pond into Hawksnest. Is this harmful, or a benefit to Hawksnest water quality and wildlife? It might be harmful, since Black Pond has lower water quality (it’s “eutrophic”).

  6. Do box turtles occur in the woods at Hawksnest? Is Hawksnest and the undeveloped land to the east officially recognized as Eastern box turtle habitat? Have environmental impact studies been done to justify the new development there, and the widening of Seth Whitfield Road?

  7. How did Hawksnest get it's name? When you look at a map of the pond, it looks surprisingly like a hawk on a nest. The main part of the pond is the round nest, the cove is the head, and the little cove on the cove is the beak. But is there any historical suport for this conjecture?
  8. Duck hunting at Hawksnest. There’s a long tradition of duck hunting at Hawksnest, and we support it. What is the history? Who owned the old hunting camps? How and where is it practiced today? Ducking hunting figures in the career of the renowned East Harwich bird carver, A.E.Crowell.
  9. Protection for Seth Whitfield Rd. Also known as Hawksnest Rd, it runs along the western boundary of the park. Because it has county road status, it is beyond the jurisdiction of the park. Can the northern portion of the road be removed from county status? Or can it be designated as some kind of historic or rustic road, so it can be left narrow and rustic as it is now? Otherwise, it will be eventually paved and... turtles watch out!

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