Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Senior Nature Walk

Join us on Wednesday, September 7th   has been rescheduled to Monday Sept 12th  still 3:30 - 4:30
 You are invited to take a walk down to the shores of Lake Wallace to appreciate and celebrate Belchertown's Biodiversity.  We leave the Senior Center at 3:30 for an hour of birds, dragonflies, fall flowers and whatever else presents itself.   Look for the flyer in the Senior Center!  Sign up at the front desk.
(Ms Levy is an experienced naturalist, with leading groups on interpretive walks at Lake Wallace and other areas, as well as a moderately skilled birder.  Bring your skills along with you, too ... I'm always up for learning more!)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hurricane Irene

Batten down the hatches, take in your lawn furniture and get your candles and battery powered radios ready ... here comes Irene!

Rotational winds blowing onto the eastern Atlantic off west Africa get carried across by the trade winds, turned north by the Gulf Stream.  On the way, the storms pick up energy and water from the warm waters of the tropical Atlantic and ... voila!  a hurricane.
First come the winds from the east, blowing lots of rain over us, then intensifying as the storms center approaches.  If the eye stays to the east, we get soaked and the winds intensify out of the north.  The closer the eye to us, the stronger the winds.
Check out The Weather Channels' Hurricane Central  http://www.weather.com/weather/hurricanecentral/

Through our dry July and wet August, trees have been stressed and may be weakened by decay.  That increases the likelihood of trees or tree limbs coming down in those high winds.  In the months and years after the trees fall, the new areas of open canopy present opportunities for a variety of shrubs, wildflowers, and sapling trees.  As you take a walk through your favorite woodland, try to notice if the trees are of roughly the same size or many different sizes.  A new successional woodland has lots of trees of similar age and, therefore, size.  The more decades since the last major, tree-dropping event, the greater the variety of ages and sizes of the trees.  The landscape tells the story of the past.  Check out Harvard Forests' information on landscapes.  http://harvardforest.fas.harvard.edu/museum.html   Our landscape has been filling in since the agricultural clearing of the 1800's.

See what Wikipedia has to say about the Hurricane of '38... the one that all of the news channels are comparing Irene to.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1938_New_England_hurricane  One major difference to keep in mind is that we have more trees that are bigger and older than back then.  The aspens and birches that may have dominated 100 to 50 years ago are pioneers that do well in disturbed soil with lots of sunlight.  Now, they're 50 to 100 years old and reaching the end of their lives at roughly the same time.  They've been replaced with oaks and lots of white pine and maples.


Remember, though, if lots of wood comes down in your area ... don't transport it with you to use as firewood when you've gone camping.  The Asian Longhorn Beetle is a growing threat to trees all over New England.  The worst of the infestation may be in the Worcester area, but it's been found in small pockets far beyond.  For more info, go to the Mass DAR website  http://www.mass.gov/agr/alb.htm

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Did you feel it?  1:50 on the afternoon of August 23rd, at first we thought it was one of those large trucks passing by.  We hear that it was a 5.9 magnitude centered in Virginia!  Things rattled, but nothing fell down at our house.
USGS Earthquake in Virginia

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Lake Wallace loop trail

The beautiful and ever-changing landscape of Lake Wallace in a medium-difficulty 1.4mile loop.  Let us know if you spot anything interesting!

Mark your calendars

- Don't forget Belchertown's Hazardous Waste Collection day is Saturday Sept 17th.  Be sure to register by the 10th.
- Belchertown Fair starts on Sept 23.  Get your Lake Wallace landscapes, tree or pond life artwork and poetry to MsLevy at the high school by Sept 16 for the chance to be highlighted on the BEST of Lake Wallace display
 - Wednesday, Sept 28th is the tentative date for Kid-to-Teen Ecomentors ... stay tuned for more info
 - Saturday, October 1 is the Connecticut River Watershed Council's big "Source to Sea Cleanup"  Look for more info and the chance to help clean up the smallest watershed in the state!

Belchertown Biodiversity – Toyota Tapestry grant update

Toyota’s public relations firm GolinHarris, contacted media outlets in Western Mass this week.  Keep an eye out for stories in the news as the school year begins.

Belchertown Biodiversity Project Teams

                                                     hmmmmm is that another 2 owl pellets?!!

BPS Teachers are working hard getting ready to take students outside this coming school year.  Teachers braved rain in June, sticky heat in July and pesky bugs in August.  (Thanks to Ms. O'Rourke for lending her photogenic kids!)   The Belchertown Biodiversity team teachers are busy planning schoolyard experiences and field trips to Lake Wallace.  Mr. Clark (SRE 1st) and Mr. Monroe(BHS), Mrs. Butler (CSS K) and Mrs O’Rourke (JBMS), and Mr. Greene (CHCS 6th) and Ms. Scudere(BHS) started partnering on designing the best possible trips for BPS students.  Students across grade levels will be learning to identify our native trees and conduct measuring and mapping exercises.  The wide array of pond organisms living in Lake Wallace and in bodies of water on school grounds will provide lots of opportunity for observation and monitoring as we move through the seasons.  More on this as the school year gets under way.

Generous donation yields interest and excitement

Through the generosity of Gary Moore (former UMass Chemistry professor), BHS now has a fabulous new device to examine pond life up close.  A Digiscope Blue donated just as school closed, students and teachers have been able to capture some fascinating images.  … and it’ll just get better from here!