News

SVT Seeks Seasonal Stewardship Technician

SVT has an opening for a Part-Time, Seasonal Stewardship Technician.  This 15 hours per week position starts the week of May 21 and runs through October 19.

The Stewardship Technician will assist with property maintenance at SVT reservations and will be responsible for mowing trails and small fields, maintaining trails and signs, and conducting monitoring visits. The Technician will also work on invasive plant removal projects alone and with volunteers.

Qualifications include:

  • Physical ability and willingness to operate a DR Field & Brush mower.
  • Willingness to spend long hours outdoors, sometimes bushwhacking. 
  • Experience with invasive plant identification and removal preferred.
  • Ability to drive a manual transmission required. 

Application deadline extended to April 30, 2018.

Please read the complete job description and application instructions before applying.

Learn to Certify Vernal Pools

It may be hard to think about spring with all of the snow on the ground, but it will be here in less than a week. And with the arrival of spring, we'll soon be seeing vernal pools on our properties.

This spring, SVT will be documenting and certifying vernal pools in the towns of Harvard, Littleton, Marlborough, Sudbury, and Westborough. The time frame for the field work will likely be late April to mid May.

We are seeking trained volunteers to help us in this endeavor. ​If you are interested in assisting us, please make plans to attend our training session:

Vernal Pool Certification Training
Wednesday, March 21
7:00 to 8:30 pm
18 Wolbach Road
Sudbury
Cost: Free for SVT members; $20 for non-members

At this session Matt Burne, Conservation Director of the Walden Woods Project, will provide an overview of vernal pool ecology , vernal pool inhabitants, and breeding wildlife.  He will also provide instruction on how to certify a vernal pool in Massachusetts.

Matt is an expert in vernal pool ecology, co-founder of the Vernal Pool Association, and moderator of the Vernal Pool list serve.

Please register if you are interested in attending. And please invite others you think might be interested.

 

Volunteer Week 2018: April 15 to 21

SVT invites you to participate in the projects we have planned for National Volunteer Week 2018, April 15 to 21. Please click the links below to learn more and sign up:

April 15: Roadside Cleanup in Framingham
April 15: Glossy Buckthorn Pull at Memorial Forest in Sudbury
April 21: Trail Work Day at Great Oak Farm in Berlin

New volunteers welcome!
If you have never volunteered with SVT before, please fill out a Volunteer Information Form before signing up for a project. Thank you !

Spring-Summer 2018 Program Calendar Now Online

Photo by Sue Kurys.

Check out our 2018 Spring and Summer Program Calendar. It includes dozens of recreational and educational programs, many with reduced fees for SVT members.

Nature walks, wildlife talks, paddles, and more. You're sure to find a program that suits you.

Visit the online calendar to find the complete listings.

Register today. Many programs fill up quickly!

Boylston Protects 95 Acres Near Mount Pisgah

Wrack Meadow Woods

The Town of Boylston has permanently protected 95 acres off Mile Hill Road by deeding seven parcels of land to the Boylston Conservation Commission.

The Town acquired these parcels through "tax takings" during the Great Depression, and at one time local residents used them for gathering ice and pasturing cows. The lands now provide habitat for many species of wildlife.

They are located across the road from Mount Pisgah and are bordered by the Summer Star Wildlife Sanctuary as well as by SVT's Wrack Meadow Woods Reservation. Local residents, members of the Commission, and SVT have long advocated that these lands be permanently protected, and we are thrilled that it has finally happened.

Another plus: These parcels bring the number of acres conserved within the Tri-Town project area to 363, helping SVT and our partners get closer to our goal of 500 acres. 

 

Memorial Forest: Trails Have Reopened

June 2014: One month after the prescribed burn.

As of Monday, March 12, we have reopened all of the trails at Memorial Forest. Thank you for your understanding as we work to improve the habitat  at this popular property.

 

The effort to restore pitch pine/scrub oak barrens in the Desert Natural Area and Memorial Forest on the Marlborough-Sudbury border continues. This is a long-term project being undertaken by the City of Marlborough and SVT. We are working to restore these unusual barrens that provide habitat for rare species such as the whip-poor-will and wild lupine.

In the next few weeks, the City of Marlborough and SVT will begin mowing a 14-acre area near trail junctions E and F. We'll also be removing dead trees from that site. The City of Marlborough received a habitat restoration grant from MassWildlife that underwrites this work.

The work will take approximately seven days, and the public will be unable to use portions of the trails while the equipment is onsite.  

Please comply with the "Do Not Enter" signs posted in the affected areas. This is a temporary closure. We will reopen the trails as soon as possible. Thank you for your cooperation.

The area near trail junctions E and F is where we conducted a prescribed burn in 2014. Pitch pine/scrub oak barrens rely on periodic fires in order to rejuvenate. The current mowing and dead tree removal is necessary to create conditions for another safe burn that we plan to conduct in three to five years.

Read more about the habitat restoration project in the Desert Natural Area and Memorial Forest.

Come to the Forest Jubilee, SVT's Annual Benefit

SVT's Annual Benefit is scheduled for Saturday, March 10, at the Sheraton Framingham (6 to 10:30 pm). The theme of "Forest Jubilee" celebrates both our 25th annual benefit and our 65th anniversary as an organization.

Join us at this annual fundraiser, where you'll enjoy:

Cocktails and Hors d'Oeuvres
Dinner and Dancing
Silent & Live Auction

New: Celebrity Auctioneer--David O'Leary from Magic 106.7

Attire: Forest Flair! (Prize for best costume)
 
Learn more and purchase tickets.

Spring Internships at SVT

SVT has openings for two interns this spring. These unpaid positions provide valuable, hands-on experience in conservation work and non-profit marketing:

The Stewardship Intern will assist with both property maintenance and data management. Intern must be in good physical condition, be willing to bushwhack, and be an upper-level undergraduate or have a bachelor's degree in natural sciences or related field. 10 hours/week. Read full description.

The Video Communications Intern will assist our staff in filming and editing 3-minute videos of nonprofit organizations in Framingham. Requires a background in film or media studies. 10 hours/week. Read full description.

Record Count for Wild Turkeys at the 2017 CBC

Wild turkeys roosted near Ricci Fields in Lincoln. Photo by Norm Levey
Wild turkeys roosted near Ricci Fields in Lincoln. Photo by Norm Levey

Norman Levey, Compiler for the Concord Christmas Bird Count, reported on the bird sightings by participants in the 2017 count.

The Concord Christmas Bird Count wrapped up its 58th count on Tuesday, January 2, 2018, with a spirited evening in the SVT Wolbach farmhouse, where our coordinators and compilers shared a delicious potluck supper and called out the list of all the birds we found the previous Saturday.

If this count was not a record maker for bird abundance, it was notable for ice, snow, and cold. Our early-rising field teams encountered 4°F temperatures that made the afternoon high of 16°F seem balmy. On the same day, counters in Fairbanks, Alaska, experienced about the same daytime temperatures as those of us at the Concord count.

Few of our field teams saw even one Canada goose, but spots of open water in the Assabet Wildlife Refuge and in Hager Pond in Marlborough (which by some miracle never totally freezes over on the coldest of count days) delivered 222 geese, 32 mute swans, 6 gadwall, 28 American black ducks, 614 mallards, a lone green-winged teal, and a lingering American coot.

We may have one record count for wild turkey, which shortly after its introduction in the Commonwealth in 1972 steadily reestablished a vigorous breeding population and made its Concord count debut in 1997 with a tally of 9. Adjusting for our possibly lower than average participation rate this year may make 319 of these iconic birds a new high. Prehistorically, the wild turkey was abundant in the state until its extirpation in 1851.

Ten great blue herons stood sentinel-like over the few remaining outflows under beaver dams and culverts, with one or two especially bedraggled individuals reported. A great blue heron will eat just about anything it can swallow, head first, but its typical summer restaurant that serves frogs, fish, turtles, voles, and large insects vanished more than a month ago. For every great blue heron, there was a belted kingfisher hunting in the same seasonally vanishing habitat.

A few dramatically dark and boldly marked red-tailed hawks with inky black belly bands, interlopers from the Canadian north, were spotted by a few field teams. Our locals are pale by comparison. Woodland dwelling red-shouldered hawks may be making a small resurgence after a few lean years with a total of 4. We’ve had recent counts of 0 and 1.

Local owls showed expected numbers except for Northern saw-whet, which except for one individual located in Wayland vanished from its winter roosts and very likely migrated to more promising snow-free hunting grounds.

Woodpecker counts hit the average, except red-bellied is still showing a steadily upward trend-line. Downy is our most abundant woodpecker, and our count of 760 hews to the 10-year average.

Falcons made the list with 1 American kestrel and a single merlin. Kestrel once tallied in double digits on our counts, but has declined to one or two individuals every year.

Common feeder birds such as cardinals, chickadees, titmice, and house finches were easily found in neighborhoods. Field parties censusing more remote wooded conservation properties turned up 244 golden-crowned kinglets—just short of 1973’s record 273—and a few red-breasted nuthatches. A school classroom feeder in Lincoln had a wintering Eastern towhee sharing a feeder with 35 house sparrows and 2 white-throateds, and another feeder hosted a ruby-crowned kinglet which are migrants and very uncommon winter residents. Hermit thrush did well, with 11 spotted by several field teams. This winter hardy thrush does just fine and dandy dining on bittersweet fruit and nut and suet cakes at feeders.

Wintering warblers did not make the count this year.

Rusty blackbird counts show peaks and valleys, but this year’s total of 38 is double our 10-year average for this diminishing species. Overall, rusties have had an alarming 45-year decline in population that may have several causes, such as winter habitat loss, poisoning of other blackbird species with rusty as an incidental victim, and disturbance of its boreal wetland breeding grounds. The more common red-winged blackbird nailed the average this year with 133, which is a total surprise considering the severity of the weather.

Our final result will show a grand total of about 26,000 birds counted, 9,500 fewer than last year’s number. The significance of this smaller tally should be attributed to harsh weather and a lower than usual field participation rate.

Again, we extend our thanks to Sudbury Valley Trustees for its sponsorship of the Concord CBC, and especially Laura Mattei for hosting our countdown and potluck supper in the comfort of the Wolbach farmhouse.

Join us next time on Sunday December 30, 2018, for another adventure in winter birding!

Learn more: Spotlight: Norm Levey and the Concord Christmas Bird Count.
 

Improving Habitat for Native Pollinators

Since the autumn of 2015, Nan Burke of Westborough has played an important role in SVT’s efforts to improve pollinator habitats in our region. She has been raising milkweed seedlings that we have planted on our properties and shared with our members to plant in their own gardens. The milkweed is essential habitat for the monarch butterfly caterpillar, and its nectar is also vital to other insects.

In 2017, she expanded her efforts and began raising and releasing the monarch butterflies themselves.

We recently asked Nan to discuss both projects, and she provided some useful resources for others who are interested in raising monarchs. Read the full story.