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DEATH ON THE HIGHWAY (2008)

“On this walk he counted the flattened carcasses of 5 painted turtles, 1 snapper, 6 frogs, 2 muskrats, 2 squirrels, 1 chipmunk, 1 mink, 1 beaver, and 1 woodchuck for a total of 20 deaths on the narrow shoulders devoid of vegetation.”

Female turtles have been spotted en route to nest sites this late spring and early summer. We find their battered corpses on and along our dangerous roads. Two weeks ago on a hot sunny afternoon the old Closeteer happened upon three active painted turtles a couple hundred feet apart on the soft shoulders of the Essex Rail Way between Howe Manning School and Essex Street in Middleton. They paid no attention to him while continuing to dig holes to deposit their eggs as their ancestors have done for millions of years. The Closeteer wondered if their forbearers had also ignored the trains rumbling by from 1849 to 1926.
     Last week while roaming around town he found a half dozen turtles recently killed. This reminded him of a survey he had done in mid June, 2008. Last Sunday morning he repeated that non-scientific study along busy highway, State Route 114, in western Middleton. He hiked the one and one half miles of road both sides as before from Emerson Brook crossing to the Rockaway Road turnoff near the North Andover line looking for victims. Here is his tally: 5 turtles (2 snappers, 2 painted,1 1 stink pot), 4 frogs (2 bull, 2 green), 2 snakes (1 northern water and another badly damaged and unidentifiable), 1 cowbird, and 1 dragonfly for a total of 13. Below is his report and thoughts from nine years ago after checking the same area.
DEATH ON THE HIGHWAY (June 2008)
Last week the old Closeteer took a macabre mid-day hike up busy North Main Street (Route 114) in Middleton, from Emerson Brook to the North Andover line and back on opposite sides. He had just read articles about June turtle movements in the Tri-Town Transcript and a Massachusetts Fish and Wildlife newsletter. For years he had noticed road kills, especially turtles in this stretch of highway, much of which is flanked by wetlands. On this walk he counted the flattened carcasses of 5 painted turtles, 1 snapper, 6 frogs, 2 muskrats, 2 squirrels, 1 chipmunk, 1 mink, 1 beaver, and 1 woodchuck for a total of 20 deaths on the narrow shoulders devoid of vegetation.

Imagine crossing a road forty times your length on belly with huge vehicles hurdling past. This is what many turtles especially females are experiencing now as they seek out nest sites. Next imagine a just hatched turtle crossing the same road 500 hundred times its own length. Many don’t make it. Even bicycle, especially dirt bikes, and foot traffic on our woodland paths kill many each year. – Judy Schneider photo

He made no attempt to search beyond in the weedy lower shoulders for casualties. He wondered how many had been wounded, been pressed into uncountable stains in the asphalt, been dragged off by scavengers, or were roaming disoriented in the woods suffering PRCS (post road crossing syndrome). In three weeks, after the height of turtle egg-laying, he plans to repeat this three mile walk.

Painted turtle laying her eggs in a hole just dug with hind legs. After she has covered well and left the spot it will be barely visible. Alas, most are found within a couple days by egg loving mammals. – Tyler Simpson of Uxbridge photo

Our paved roads, which allow for high speeds, have been here less than one century.   Turtles have been on Earth two million centuries. Roads fragment the land in unnaturally straight lines that are barriers for animals following their ancient comings and goings. In contrast fish encounter dams and forbidding small-dark culverts. For amphibians the uplands and wetlands are separated. Female turtles seeking suitable soil nesting sites are particularly vulnerable; their speed is one-one hundredth those of shell crushing tires. At night the sudden onslaught of light freezes the movements of mammals. We, in the name of progress, have laid down a deadly grid upon the land.

Turtles such as this old snapper live long lives. Their ancestors have been on Earth forty times longer than man. Our network of roads without over or under passes is doing many in. Their corpses especially this time of year are rotting on our roadsides. – Judy Schneider photo

Lucky are the turtles that live near Butch Cameron’s secluded sunny garden and sandy lawn off Mill Street by the Ipswich River. He counted nine turtles, seven painted and two snappers, laying eggs there this season. Mary Jane Morrin2 stumbled upon a “frying pan size” snapper doing the same in her garden. “Since she looked about as happy as any woman in labor, I quickly went away.” Her guest must have come up from nearby Boston Brook across busy Essex Street.
The old Closeteer told us that the refrain of an old country song by Dorsey Dixon kept running through his mind on that grim hike, which goes something like, “I heard the crash on the highway but I didn’t hear nobody pray.”
1 Painted turtles lay 6 or so oval eggs on average in 4” deep holes May-July. Young hatch in late summer or overwinter until the next spring. Snapping turtles lay on average 20 to 30 spherical eggs slightly smaller than ping-pong late spring-early summer. The newly hatched turtles are very vulnerable but not nearly so as freshly lain eggs. Predators such as skunks and raccoons find most nests each year.
2 Mary Jane Morrin was one of Middleton’s most active citizens during the 1980s – 2010. Selectman, Board of Health, League of Woman Voters . . . the list goes on. She is now happily living up near Canada in Vermont’s “Northeast Kingdom.” We miss her.
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WATER RESOURCE AND CONSERVATION INFORMATION
FOR MIDDLETON, BOXFORD AND TOPSFIELD`

Precipitation Data* for Month of: Mar April May June  
30 Year Normal (1981 – 2010) Inches 6.65 4.53 4.06 3.95  
   2017 Central Watershed Actual 2.86 6.53 4.87 6.1**as of June 23

Ipswich R. Flow Rate (S. Middleton USGS Gage) in Cubic Feet/ Second (CFS):
For June 23, 2017  Normal . . . 22 CFS     Current Rate . . . 49.8 CFS
*Danvers Water Filtration Plant, Lake Street, Middleton is the source for actual precipitation data thru May.
** Middleton Stream Team is the source of actual precipitation data for June..Normals data is from the National Climatic Data Center. THE WATER CLOSET is provided by the Middleton Stream Team: www.middletonstreamteam.org or         <MSTMiddletonMA@gmail.com> or (978) 777-4584

Katharine’s Going Away Party

Photos by Judy Schnieder

  • Waiting_for_the_guest_of_honor
  • Waiting_for_the_guest_of_honor
  • view_from_the_clubhouse
  • Last_minute_details
  • She_will_arrive_any_minute
  • Surprise! Tom_delivers_the_guest_of_honor.
  • Hug_from_her_daughter
  • Sisters_kiss
  • Katharine_making_her_way_down_the_table_greeting_guests
  • Love_that_smile
  • Diane_showing_off__the_beautiful_table_setting
  • Donna_writing_tributes_in_the_book
  • Enjoying_the_great_food.
  • Everyone_enjoying_themeselves_in_this_beautiful_setting
  • Frank_and_John_looking_over_the_photo_collage
  • healthy_appetizers
  • Impossible_goup_to_photograph
  • Listening_to_Pike_talk_about_Katharine_when_she_was_a_student
  • Lots_of_great_food
  • Milly_talks_about_making_the_StreamTeam_cards_with_Katharine
  • Must_be_a_big_story._Photo_collage_in_background
  • Pike_took_2_pages
  • Sandy_says_a_few_words_about_Katharines_contributions
  • Sky_over_the_Middleton_golf_course
  • Social_time._Joan_and_John_catching_up
  • Stream_Teamers_enjoy_each_others_company.
  • Table_with_a_view
  • Diane_explaining_how_this_came_together
  • This_group_knows_how_to_pose_Sandy_Roger_Bob_Sharon_and_Joyce
  • Diane_and_Katharine.
  • Catching_up_with_friends_Milly_with_a_toast
  • Appreciating_the_accolades. THE END

2017 Earth Day Festival

  • Sandy conferring with participants
  • Show me that puppet!
  • Thank you Creighton Pond Camp!
  • Big Pike and Little Pike
  • Learned how to fish successfully!
  • Browsing the vendor tents
  • Browsing the raffle items
  • Learning how to categorize your soil
  • Learning from vendors
  • Fishing along the edge of the pond
  • Environmental Science Students from Essex Tech
  • Looking over the Ipswich RIver Watershed puppets
  • lots of educational material
  • One on one fishing instruction
  • Lots of Scout participation
  • Roger Talbot with Briana and Dharma holding the raffle tickets
  • Drum Roll Please!
  • Essex Tech Student asks what kind of fish he is holding
  • Puppets up close
  • Owl pellet contained a skull and hip bone
  • Taking a rest at the end of the day. Great Grandpa Frank Masse in the sunglasses
  • Waiting-to-hear-if-they-won-anything-in-the-raffle
  • Sandy announcing the lucky raffle winners!
  • Briana explaining about her worms or was it yoga?
  • Scooping the duck and water
  • Busy dissecting owl pellets
  • Sandy Rubchinuk introduces the owl pellet dissection activity
  • Roger and John – raffle ticket sales are over!
  • Learning to fish was the most popular activity!
  • So how does goat yoga work?
  • Thank-you-Liz-for-being-Beaver
  • Paddlers kept going even during rain showers
  • Duck Slide always a favorite
  • Dissecting Owl Pellets- lots of finds inside!
  • Yoga explained by Yogi Bri

The 10 Annual Earth Day Festival, organized by the Middleton Stream Team, was an afternoon of fun and learning for all! Attendees enjoyed the Creighton Pond Camp setting and the opportunities the natural setting provided.  Essex Tech environmental students and their science equipment filled the pond side learning building to continually educate visitors with on-site experiments. Masconomet environmental students also had an educational display.  Boy scouts and girl scouts of all ages demonstrated camp-outs, did crafts, and talked about scouting opportunities in the town. New vendors included Sound Play Children’s Music, Moonshadow Yoga with dwarf goats, Green Meadow farm with chickens, Lasting Legacy Soaps and nature jewelry, and Sanctuary Yoga. Loyal participants returning included Sol Bean, Essex County Beekeepers, Cellar Door of Ipswich, and the Flint Library. Massachusetts Wildlife and Fisheries, with the help of the local Peary family, taught many children to fish.  The gigantic beaver, aka Liz Cameron, enjoyed entertaining children! This year, for the first time, IRWA performed a puppet show with a water conservation theme and due to the brief shower, a third show was added and enjoyed in the nice lodge. Owl pellet dissection was taught by Sandy, also known as Mrs. R, and some amazing discoveries were made about the food cycle! One middle age adult asked to join the older children. He was the most excited about what he found, declaring it an activity he had always wanted to do! The raffles, which are the primary funding source for all the free activities the Stream team sponsors, brought in a record amount of sales. Mr. John LeBlanc was awarded the distinction of being hardest working event volunteer, as he had a line for popcorn for a solid three hours! Mother Earth reminded us of her gifts with a shower, we think it was her way of thanking all the people that came out to learn, appreciate, and protect this watershed we all live within. We think we heard her giggle as the people out in the rowboats hunkered down in the rain out on the pond! We would like to thank the  Lynn Boys and Girls clubs for letting us use their beautiful facility. Two hours of sun and a bit of rain, laughter and learning in the great outdoors!  It was an inspiring celebration of the human and nature connection!