Search results for 'wildlife'

CRWA Awarded Prestigious Fish & Wildlife Grant for Magazine Beach

10 Aug

As part of this grant, we’ll be removing the phragmites that now fill the swale between the soccer fields at the park. Our goal is to return wildflowers to the site, restoring this habitat for birds and insects.

We’ve just heard the good news that the Charles River Watershed Association just received a highly competitive Five Star & Urban Waters Restoration Program grant to improve the Charles River watershed at Magazine Beach and to engage the community in the process. The CNA is a partner in this grant providing community outreach and assisting with the development of educational and interpretative materials (working with Mass Audubon and the CRWA) relating to watersheds, water management and urban habitat.

With this grant we will restore wetlands, add and maintain rain gardens, and remove invasive vegetation—including common reed (phragmites), false indigo, Japanese knotweed and purple loosestrife. Work will begin in the next months and continue over the next two years. The idea is to incorporate these sustainable watershed features and best management practices as we renovate the park. Other partners include: DCR, the Cambridge Public Schools and Afterschools, the Charles River Conservancy, the Riverside Boat Club and the City of Cambridge. For more information, click here. Want to help out? Click here.

Wildlife at MB Oct.-Dec. 2015

5 Feb

Many thanks to the bird and critter watchers at Magazine Beach who are noting what they see and when on the Powder Magazine whiteboard. Among the creatures spotted between October 15th and the end of December were:

Canada geese, White geese, Seagulls, Sparrows, Cormorants, Downey woodpeckers, Golden crowned kinglets, Mockingbirds, Bluejays, Red-tailed hawks, Robins, Eastern phoebe, Chicadees, Scarlet tanagers, Goldfinches, Black-throated blue warblers, Mallard ducks, Northern shovelers, and a Great-crested flycatcher, Slate-colored junco, Catbird, Wood thrush, Brown thrasher, Grackle, Yellow warbler, Mourning dove and Great-blue heron.

Rabbits, squirrels, voles, crickets mosquitoes and a snake—seen in the water near the kayak landing.

This is the beginning of a seasonal record of wildlife at the park. Check out the nature just down the street!

4.29 Earth Day Cleanup & Bird Walk THIS Saturday!

30 Apr

Thanks to all who participated in yesterday’s Earth Day Charles River Cleanup, including: Gensler, Reed Hildebrand, the Green Engineer, MIT, Pack 56 Cub Scouts and Cambridgeport neighbors; and to event organizers: the Charles River Watershed Association and Charles River Conservancy.

DCR will pick up the many piles of sticks and branches this week. Volunteers pulled tons of bits of plastic from the river and shoreline. A high school student took bags of it and will craft artwork from the marine debris.

Nature Lovers: We also sighted a muskrat, living along the river’s edge!!!!!! And, last week: a great blue heron. Jeanne Strahen, who’s conducting the wildlife inventory of Magazine Beach, and CRWA bird watcher Matt Marshall will lead a Bird Walk at the park Saturday, May 6. Meet on the BU bridge, facing the park at 7:30am (rain date: Sunday, May 7). Free. Bring your binoculars! UPDATE: Rain is predicted, but it’s not raining. The walk is on! See you there!

Wildlife photos courtesy of Garrett Newton and Coleen O’Connell.

The Birds are Back!

6 Apr

In April, nearly every day of observing at MB brings a special treat. Today, the air is raw and the wind is strong, but my internal complaint about the slowness of spring is interrupted by the sight of a bird with long, crooked dark brown wings moving high over the water.  As it comes into full view, its underside is white, its wings banded black and white with dark patches at the crook, and its eyes sport a black band.   This first Osprey I have seen this season catches a column of air and soars in large ovals above the water. My delight increases as it draws its wings up, extends its feet down, and descends to the water feet first to fish, hovering on beating wings.   It pulls up out of the water having failed to catch its fish and resumes its soaring. The air column takes it downstream out of site and I move along. But moments later an osprey comes up from behind, catches a column of air and soars gracefully ahead of me. I tell myself it is likely the same bird, but then another soars into view, then two more join in an aerial ballet.Robin with wormSo far, spring has been cool and wet, but birds are easy to find at MB. Who is back? Red-wing blackbirds, Crows and Robins. Earlier this week I estimated 300 robins were hunting worms on the lawns. If the lawns look a bit torn up this is because they have thoroughly aerated the grass while removing the worms. Male Redwing Blackbirds claim territory in the hedge for nesting when the females return.   MB’s riverfront location makes it appealing to shorebirds- Killdeer, American Woodcocks, and Snipes are using their long bills to remove insects from the moist leaf litter on the ground. Duck are swimming by, often in pairs, looking for places they might nest. In addition to the usual Mallards, Ring Necked Ducks with purple heads and rings on their bills (not their necks), and Hooded Mergansers with crests like large white sails outlined in black swim by. Double crested cormorants fly through and will shortly perch in groups on the floating orange stanchions across the river. Gold finches flit through in groups. Song sparrows give daily concerts. From here through May it only gets better.

Jeanne Strahan

Note: Jeanne, who’s leading the wildlife inventory of the park, will be leading a FREE bird walk there May 6 (rain date: May 7), at 7:30am, with CRWA birder Matt Marshall. Meet at the BU Bridge, facing the park.

If you’re looking for the CCTV video of the 3.30 Cambridge Meeting about I-90, click here or go to Events. If you’re looking for the CCTV video of our 4.13 meeting a out I-90, click here.

Spring is Bursting Out…

5 Apr


Head to the park to see bird’s nests, budding trees and tiny flowers. They’re all there under the snow…

Last week, Jeanne noted: The birds were in full song—not just chirping, several brand new tiny, beautiful birds nests appeared and the following spring birds: goldfinches, ruby-crowned kinglets, an eastern phoebe, a purple martin, blue-grey gnatcatcher, a white breasted nuthatch. Bees buzzed around.

Note: Much wildlife stayed put for the winter. Spotted between December and February:

Birds: Canada geese (flocks of 40 to 100 birds), seagulls, sparrows, cormorant, great crested flycatcher, slate colored junco, downy woodpeckers, golden crowned kinglets, mockingbirds, catbird, blue jays, red-tailed hawks, robins, eastern phoebe, chickadees, scarlet tanager, wood thrush, goldfinches, brown thrashers, cardinals, grackles, black-throated blue warbler, yellow warbler, mallard ducks, common mergansers, northern shovelers, mourning dove, great blue heron, purple finches, house finches, raven, European starling, redwing blackbird, and cedar waxwing.

Other critters: Rabbit, snake, squirrels, voles, crickets, mosquitoes and tiny flies

Jeanne says that she observed most of the winter birds in the swales and the hedge. The thistles and milkweed pods, as well as seeds that had fallen to the ground there, provided a lot of food. She also saw birds around the berry trees along both sides of Memorial Drive, clustered around the footbridge. These berries lasted through the first half of February. Most of the hawks I saw were in the tall trees beside the footbridge, as well.

 Remember, our Annual Earth Day Cleanup is Saturday, April 30, 9-12 noon!


Look Closely

5 Dec

Among the milk weed and thistles is a tiny bird’s nest I have long been curious about. It is December so the weeds and tall grasses have died back enough that I can now walk among them, and see it up close.  About three inches across, it is shaped like the bulb of a small wine glass and sits in the fork of a small shrub. I pull the branch toward me and see that it is made from small, very fine grasses woven tightly and evenly. Inside, very small leaves form a cradle.  The goldfinch that likely made this is truly a master craftsperson…oops…bird.

I have been walking Magazine Beach nearly every day for years and have experiences of its marvels all the time. As the planning for the second phase of the beach proceeds, we need to remember that MB is the wetland home to many birds and other critters whose presence enriches those who make the time to look. I expressed my concern to Cathie Zusy that some of the larger birds that have been living at MB were not in residence this summer. At her suggestion, I am now compiling an inventory of birds and animals sighted at MB.  If you see interesting wildlife down there, please email me at OR note the name of the creature, and the date and time of your sighting on the new whiteboard on the Magazine door.



3 Jul

Thanks SO MUCH to our lead sponsor, the Sanofi Foundation for North America, and to funders MIT and the Charles River Conservancy, for supporting our summer programs

How to Get to the Park: Magazine Beach Park is at the foot of Magazine Street, at 668 Memorial Drive, along the Charles River in Cambridge, MA. It is a 10-15 minute walk from the T at Central Square (red line) or Boston University, Central Station (green line, B). The 47 bus also has stops nearby. There is some parking–beside the BU bridge, at the foot of Magazine Street, and beside the Riverside Boat Club–but these lots are often full. Walking, biking or taking the T to the park are your best options!


*Birding Along the Charles–Saturday, May 6, 7:30am (Rain date: Sunday, May 7). Bring your binoculars! Led by Jeanne Strahan, who’s doing the wildlife inventory of the park, and birder Matt Marshall, of the Charles River Watershed Association. Meet at the BU Bridge, facing the park. See Jeanne’s latest bird list here.

UPDATE: Rain is predicted, but it’s not raining. The walk is on! See you there!

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*Invasive Removal at Magazine Beach–TBD. Click here to sign up to help with phragmite and other invasive removal at the park. This is part of a larger effort, and CRWA’s F&W grant,to improve the Charles River watershed at Magazine Beach and engage and educate the public in the process. We need your help!

*MassDOT’s Presentation to Cambridge about I-90–Thursday, April 13, 6:30-8:30pm, at the Morse School (40 Granite St.). Starting in 2019, MassDOT is slated to begin a 5-year, $460+ million construction project realigning the Mass Pike–right across from Magazine Beach. This project has the potential to dramatically improve the lives of Allston, Brighton and Cambridge residents. Come hear about the various plans being considered for I-90 and how they will impact Cambridge traffic, access, noise, views and the river environment during and after construction. Meeting organized by the Cambridge I-90 Committee. To see CCTV’s video of the meeting, click here.

*CNA Cambridge Community Meeting about I-90–Thursday, March 30, 7-9pm, at the Central Square Library (45 Pearl St.). Members of the I-90 Task Force, which has met since 2014, will present the major turnpike options (elevated and at grade), river and parkland issues, and other transportation issues, including West Station, the Grand Junction and connectivity. Speakers include representatives of A Better City, the Charles River Conservancy, Walk Boston, Charles River Watershed Association, Charles River Alliance, The People’s Pike, and Livable Streets. Led by Cambridge’s Task Force members Henrietta Davis and Bill Deignan and facilitated by Jack Wofford. For CCTV’s coverage of the event, click here


*3rd Public Meeting about Phase II Design–Oct. 20, 2016. DCR staff and landscape architects will present their latest plans for the park. Come listen and share your thoughts. At the Morse School (40 Granite St.)  The presentation will be viewable after the meeting on DCR’s website at 

If you have questions or concerns or wish to be added to an email list to receive DCR project-specific or general announcements, please email or call 617-626-4973. 

2nd Public Meeting About Phase II Landscape Design at Magazine Beach–Nov. 18, 2015

If you missed the meeting, you can see the presentation at 

DCR Seeks a Tenant for the Magazine. DCR is seeking a tenant for the granite-block building that is the focal point for the park. To see responses to DCR’s Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) in the property, click here. Have an interest in the property? Contact: Update: DCR may be looking for a tenant as early as the fall of 2017 or spring of 2018. Bathrooms and lighting will be added to the interior this summer.


Creating Your Own Special Events at Magazine Beach

Magazine Beach is a DCR park. To learn how to organize your own special events at the park, click here. To schedule the playing fields, contact Lisa Cook, 165 Day Boulevard, South Boston, MA 02127. Phone: 617-727-5290 ext.509.

Blue Heron and Oriole Nest Sightings at Magazine Beach!

19 Jan

Many thanks to Bill August for the photos of a heron that he saw at the park October 30th. Birder Janet Crystal notes that Great Blue Heron “don’t migrate like other birds. They are considered a partial migrant because they may move south from their northernmost breeding range as the weather gets colder. They will stay around this area year-round as long as there is open water where they can catch food. It’s not unusual for them to stay around throughout the winter.”

The Riverside Boat Club’s Dick Garver says that rowers often see them standing motionless on the riverbanks. Mary Holbrow added that they are often spotted at the waterfall in Newton/Watertown. Here’s a video of a heron pursuing herring during a recent herring run in the Charles (near the Watertown dam). 2013 was a great year for herring in the Charles

See this List of birds found in this area and information about them.


Oriole nest. Photo by Mary Holbrow

Oriole nest. Photo by Mary Holbrow

Mary Holbrow identified the oriole nest above, looking much like a crocheted sack, just on the park side of the pedestrian footbridge. She notes that “According to an informative piece on the National Wildlife Federation website, many birds that use string seem to like white string best. Where the nesting bird found this much of it is a puzzle, though. Possibly from fiberglass scraps and monofilament fishing line.”

After some research, she added: “I looked into bird vision a bit on line. Birds’ visual capabilities are different from ours and differ from one species to another, but in general they have a higher density of red-green-blue color receptors than we do, and also ultraviolet receptors. This makes their vision and contrast perception sharper than ours, so probably your white string shows up brilliantly to them among the greenery. They probably use rather short lengths of string, too; apparently about 6 inches is ideal. Tight knots would be a problem, though; I imagine that last year’s string, if still around, would be easier for them to get off from shriveled leaves and branches.”

Send us your photos of wildlife at the park. This 15-acre stretch along the Charles is our local preserve! 

August: the pool closes, wildflowers bloom, and Riverside rowers compete in world championships!

26 Aug

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Sunday marked the close of the Veteran’s Memorial swimming pool for the season. What a gorgeous day, with swimmers, picnickers, geese and kayakers, all enjoying a last glorious day of summer.  Beautiful wildflowers, too, and freshly pruned trees, thank you very much, DCR.

Thank you to Carolyn Shipley for the plant identifications. From Carolyn, about Purple Loosestrife:  “It has wiped out millions of acres of native vegetation, thus depriving birds and other wildlife of their favorite plants. It has clogged and is clogging our marshlands, meadows, bogs, and inlets.”

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On the other side of the world (Magazine Beach’s) Riverside Boat Club rowers were competing in the World Rowing Championships in Chungju, South Korea. Go Riverside! Thank you to Riverside’s Amanda Milad for this update–our first, international post.

Riverside members and former Cambridgeport residents Lauren Schmetterling (L) and Emily Hueslkamp (R) on the podium after their win in the Championship Women's Double at the 2012 Royal Canadian Henley Regatta. This week, they are both racing for the USA National Team at the World Rowing Championships Chungju, South Korea. Emily is racing in the Women's 4- (straight four) and Lauren is racing in the Women's 8+ (eight with coxswain). Also racing at the championships are former Riverside members Meg Musnicki, Esther Lofgren, Dave Smith and Dorian Weber.

Riverside members and former Cambridgeport residents Lauren Schmetterling (L) and Emily Hueslkamp (R) on the podium after their win in the Championship Women’s Double at the 2012 Royal Canadian Henley Regatta.
This week, they are both racing for the USA National Team at the World Rowing Championships Chungju, South Korea. Emily is racing in the Women’s 4- (straight four) and Lauren is racing in the Women’s 8+ (eight with coxswain). Also racing at the championships are former Riverside members Meg Musnicki, Esther Lofgren, Dave Smith and Dorian Weber.