Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Snapping turtles at Hawksnest

Since my childhood in the 1950s, I've seen snapping turtles at Hawksnest, usually close to Black Pond.  Years might go between sightings, but they were definitely there, and some were BIG.

Common snapping turtle crossing a road.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

More about Purple Bladderwort in Black Pond

The round shape, upper right, is the bladder. Drawing source:Britton and Brown, 1913.

The carnivorous plant in the previous story is probably Eastern Purple Bladerwort Utricularia purpurea.  It's found throughout eastern North America.

"Purple Bladderwort is a free-floating carnivorous aquatic plant.  The name Utricularia is from the Latin 'utriculus' meaning 'a little bag' in  reference to the tiny bladder sacs found in the whorls of submersed leaves."

"The bladders have a trap door which opens to suck in tiny aquatic animals.  Until recently this carnivory was viewed as a typical predator-prey interaction with the plants benefiting from nutrients derived from the trapped organisms. Recent research has shown the bladders support living communities of microrganisms and that Bladderwort plants derive more benefit from the by-products of this living community than from carnivory.From Margo Holt.

The bladderwort flower rises above the surface, buoyed by the clusters of submerged leaves.
It's a floating plant, without any roots.

Two rare species of bladderworts have been found in Harwich:

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Carnivorous plants--Bladderwort in Black Pond

by Rex Merrill

You don't know what lurks below the surface unless you look.

One of the joys of living near a pond is being able to get out on the water for a paddle on a sunny summer day. I often make a quick circuit in a canoe or kayak just inside the zone of submerged aquatic vegetation.

Bladderwort is found in shallow water along the shore of Black Pond, near the isthmus.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Massachusetts Forest and Park Friends Network Annual Conference, October 22, 2011
9:30AM - 2:00PM
  Worcester, MA

The Keynote Speaker will be DCR Commissioner Edward M. Lambert. The theme is Common Goals Strong Partnerships.

Afternoon Guest Speaker Robert T. Leverett, President, Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest -Improving the Quality of our State Parks on a Shoestring Budget.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ponds on Cape Cod with toxic algae, 2009-2011

Blue-green algae creates "toxic algae blooms." They have been known to kill dogs and people. While only a few people have been sickened by algae blooms in the US, about 50 people were killed in Brazil from drinking water tainted with algae.

In 1998, four dogs were poisoned--two of them died--from drinking water at Cliff Pond in Nickerson State Park.  One of the dogs that died belonged to Jeff Hook--and he thinks the four dogs are just the tip of the iceberg.  A few years later, he had a second dog die at Cliff Pond.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Work party to prepare Hawksnest for storm--Sat. morn

Urgent work party Saturday morning.
Erosion control enhancements.
Call Lisa Thompson to coordinate

Most erosion happens during the biggest storms.  When a storm hits, enormous erosion damage can occur.  The big gully to the beach at Round Cove Rd. happened during such a storm.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Urgent Action Needed--by all Friends of Hawksnest

Hawksnest could be logged !
Friday 8/26 is the last day
to tell the State what you think about this bad idea.

The State is revising its classification of various public lands.  They are being labeled as Reserves, Parkland, or Woodland

Monday, August 22, 2011

Protecting fragile vegetation at Hawksnest

The soil's surface... is the living skin of the earth.

When vegetation is destroyed, erosion creates a wound--as dangerous to the ecosystem as a festering sore.  In the resulting scars, invasive plants and animals can become established.

Healthy soil stores nutrients for plants--but with erosion, phosphorus escapes, creating imbalances in waterways downstream.

If erosion is allowed to continue unchecked, the resulting gullies will be very expensive to repair.  At Walden Pond State Reservation near Boston, erosion that went unchecked for decades cost over a million dollars to repair.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Trail over "Sunset Hill" closed for erosion control

Rising to a breath-taking altitude of 79 feet, "Sunset Hill" is one of the highest places in Hawksnest State Park.  A trail over the top didn't exist when the park was established, but it soon became a favorite route of equestrians and off-road vehicles.

The trail is useful, because it links Round Cove Rd. with Nathan Walker Rd.  But to provide that link, it doesn't have to go over the hilltop.

Recently, Friends of Hawksnest secured permission from the State to detour the trail away from the top of the hill.  One of the equestrians was consulted, and agreed to use the new route.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Drug use at Hawksnest

The New York Times reports growing drug use on Cape Cod.  Recent events show drug users are causing litter and fire damage at Hawksnest.

If drug use at Hawksnest isn't stopped, it may lead to break-ins in houses surrounding the park.  Report any campfires you see to the police.  Campfires are illegal in the park and lead to water pollution.

Hash pipe found in campfire at Hawksnest--the "jackknife" they were looking for.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Coyote sighted at Hawksnest

Alert but not afraid.

On July 12 at about sundown, I saw a coyote along the east border of Hawksnest, near Seth Whitfield Rd.  See lower right of photo.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Hiking around Hawksnest and Black ponds

The cove--or the "hawks head"-- from Walker Rd near the cemetery.

There's some lovely hiking at Hawksnest.  You can hike most of the way around the park, although at some distance from the ponds, on Nathan Walker Rd, combined with Seth Whitfield Rd (Hawksnest Rd).  These historic roads, looking much as they did 50 or 100 years ago, are one of the assets of the park.

There's a particularly charming loop that goes around both Hawksnest and Black ponds.  To avoid some very rough driving, you can park on Seth Whitfield Road near the "four corners," or closer to Queen Ann Rd.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Important hearing on East Harwich development--August 9

Please attend the meeting to let the Planning Board know you support a balanced, comprehensive smart growth package for East Harwich that provides opportunities for economic development, housing AND natural resource protection that will benefit the entire town of Harwich and the region.

The proposed East Harwich Village Center and Natural Resource Protection District zoning package will be discussed.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Big rainstorm pollutes NW side of Hawksnest Pond

On Friday, morning, heavy rain pummelled Harwich while I was showing Selectman Larry Ballantine around.  It was the most intense storm in over a year, and we both were soaked to the skin.  But the pond took the worst beating.

Selectman Larry Ballantine enjoys a drenching at Hawksnest.
The black material under his feet includes campfire ashes and forest debris.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Illegal ATV use at Hawksnest continues

Off-road vehicle use is illegal everywhere in Harwich, including Hawksnest State Park.

Off-road at Hawksnest State Park, July 7.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Power of a Pond

Henry David Thoreau wrote Walden during his two-year stay in a tiny shack on the shores of the pond. It became a best-seller when his literary friends promoted it after his untimely death. As Thoreau gained a worldwide following for his environmental philosophy, the pond itself became a celebrity.

Now people are loving the pond to death. It receives 700,000 visitors a year, who come to worship Thoreau’s legacy, or just to swim in one of the few freshwater ponds near Boston.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Important Meeting on E. Harwich growth, June 7

On Tuesday, June 7th at 6:30pm, the East Harwich Village Center Collaborative will give a presentation to the Harwich Planning Board about a proposed smart growth plan for East Harwich.

The presentation will take place at 6:30pm in the Harwich Public Safety Facility at #175 and #183 Rt. 124 (also known as #175 and #183 Sisson Road).

The plan is the culmination of several years of intensive study and considerable community input regarding the future of the East Harwich commercial district and the region surrounding it.

Thanks to Harwich Conservation Trust

Friday, May 6, 2011

Is ATV abuse a gateway crime*?

A pedestrian area in Hawksnest State Park, 8/5/10.

Use of unlicenced ATVs and dirt bikes is illegal everywhere in Harwich (except on your own property).  This abuse is mostly done by teens, with the tacit approval of their parents.

What's disturbing about this abuse is that young "recreational outlaws" are at risk of becoming real outlaws.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Guided tour of Hawksnest coming

Saturday, May 14th, 10:00 am
Walk in the Hawksnest Woods with Commentary
Veteran walk leader Irwin Schorr interprets the six ponds area

Directions: From Route 6, Exit 11, go west on Spruce Rd. Park on the shoulder of Spruce Rd. near the intersection with Hawksnest Rd. (not marked).

Schedule for all spring walks by Harwich Conservation Trust.

Hawksnest Road, also known as Seth Whitfield County Rd.
It's one of the last old-time country roads on the Cape.  Used as a shortcut, it is being destroyed by too much fast traffic.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Events far away threaten ponds on Cape Cod

Last summer, while swimming in Hawksnest Pond, I noticed--shining in the late afternoon sun--a layer of feathery "stuff" floating on the surface. 

The next day, I found out there were big fires in Quebec--the smoke and ash had drifted over Cape Cod, turning the skies grayish.

We often hear about "algae blooms" in ponds and estuaries caused by nutrients leaking from septic systems.  But did you know--dust and smoke from far away adds to the problem?  That's why action to protect our ponds from excess nutrients is so important.

A dust-->algae-->penguin connection

View from space of the massive growth of red, green, and blue single-celled plants, in the currents flowing north.
Growth may be fed by iron in the brown dust cloud, lower left.
In the ocean, iron feeds the algae, like phosphorus does in our ponds.

"Stirring Up a Bloom Off Patagonia

Off the coast of Argentina, two strong ocean currents recently stirred up a colorful brew of floating nutrients and microscopic plant life just in time for the Southern Hemisphere's summer solstice

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this image of a massive phytoplankton bloom off of the Atlantic coast of Patagonia on Dec. 21, 2010.

Scientists used seven separate spectral bands to highlight the differences in the plankton communities across this swath of ocean."

This bloom of algae helps sustain penguins. The famous Punta Tombo colony of Magellanic Penguins is found on the coast just below the odd peninsula (upper center of photo). With half a million of these birds, it's the largest breeding area for Magellanic Penguins in the world.


The North Pacific, west of Alaska, is extremely fertile. That's where the Humpback Whales come to fatten for the summer, and it supports one of the biggest fisheries in the world. This photo (below) of the Alaskan panhandle shows strong winds blowing dust into the ocean, towards the lower left.

Click to enlarge. NASA photo.

On Cape Cod, dust contributes nutrients to our ponds, especially during strong winds of early spring when the ground is bare.

Clouds of smake and ash from distant forest fires can also deliver phosphorus to the ponds.
NASA photo of fires in Quebec, 2002. Click to enlarge.

While windblown dust may be good for penguins and whales, it's bad for our ponds. It helps create toxic, smelly algae blooms--and ruins recreational values.   With so many sources of nutrients, it's important to reduce them where ever possible.

At Hawksnest, that means picking up after your dog, no fires, stopping shore erosion, and packing out all waste.

Quotes and photos thanks to NASA