All posts by Middleton Stream Team

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

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

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!  

2017 Vernal Pool Hike

Middleton Stream Team’s Vernal Pool Hike was recently held on a warm and sunny Sunday afternoon. (scroll down for slide show)The group of almost sixty was excited and laden down with nets. In age, the attendees ranged from toddlers in carriers to octogenarians. We hiked in from Old Hundred Lane, soon venturing off the trail to a large vernal pool, previously scouted by stream team members. Because physical factors such as sunlight, water temperature, acidity, and the duration of the flooding all affect vernal pool life, it is never truly guaranteed that we will find what we had found the week before. However, on this day,   groups of children and adults enthusiastically netted, scooped, observed, and eventually found out they had fairy shrimp, predaceous diving beetles, and a variety of beetle larvae. The Stream Team naturalists were concerned about not finding any frog or salamander eggs, worried that the winter thaw could have affected their survival. We will be following up on this to find some answers.  A favored critter was the garter snake that Briana Grieco caught and showed all the hikers.

    Vernal pools are critical habitats for many species. Through outdoor exploration of these pools, this large group of people learned that much life depends on protecting these ephemeral wetlands. We all had a beautiful day in the outdoors with great exercise and much learning.  A “wonder” of a day!

  • Just scooped several Fariy Shrimp
  • An avid explorer trying to get further into the water
  • Pool Explorer Happy with her finds
  • Turtles out sunning on a log
  • Checking leaves near the pool for salamanders
  • Fairy Shrimp Scooped from Vernal Pool
  • Pike Messenger explains vernal pool life
  • Family walking through the woods
  • Mud puddles are always a big attraction
  • Hikers Gather To Hear about Vernal Pools
  • Trying to figure out what they have in the bucket
  • Hikers line the edge of a vernal pool


Water Closet for December 30, 2016

Ice is back as it should be in December. On Friday, 16 December, the early morning temperature was 0° F; the flags on a fair northwest wind in front of St. Agnes Church, the old Closeteer’s wind gauge, were straight out.

“Even those of us who are very familiar with ice have gone through. Don’t go testing ice alone. “

TV weathermen excitedly said the wind chill was -15 F. The Council on Aging/Conservation Commission Friday morning walkers cancelled their hike.

Middleton Stream Teamers and guests crossing Prichards Pond on a foot of ice in 2005. – Stream Team photo

Some Stream Teamers, who have never given snow birding to Florida a thought, think such weather is not only cold but “cool.”   The water molecules are “chilling” as they lose their kinetic energy.  At 32 F their dance is so slow they cling to one another and become a vast solid of called ice.  As the air above becomes ever colder the heat in the still unfrozen water below the new ice on the surface loses heat.  Remember from your high school physics and chemistry that heat flows from higher to lower temperatures?  If you don’t, step outside for a moment and feel what happens.

Two hikers are walking on the ice of a beaver impoundment among the trunks of drowned red maples. – Judy Schneider photo

One of the reasons that Stream Teamers, lovers of  water bodies, like cold and the resulting ice is the access it gives to beaver impoundments, lakes, ponds, and other water bodies not to be explored on foot.  A week of day long freezing air allows us out on Emerson Bog, Aunt Betts Pond and surrounds, the beaver impoundments under the Pond Meadow Pond Rookery, the southwest Middleton Pond Rookery, the upper Cudhea Crick impoundment, and a dozen other places under water in Middleton.  If foolhardy some might after long cold snaps venture out on the Ipswich River.  The winter of 2014-2015 was infamous to DPWs and wonderful for us ice walkers who ventured out on the tricky ice of Nichols Brook’s broad floodplain between Topsfield and Middleton.  DON’T TAKE ANY CHANCES. Even those of us who are very familiar with ice have gone through. Don’t go testing ice alone.

Three peeping Toms looking though a window of black ice around a tree trunk. An underworld of liquid water above freezing temperature is revealed. – Katharine Brown photo

En route on safe ice we look for places with black ice.  Black ice, not black at all, is transparent. Muddy bottoms absorb light and don’t reflect much back.  White and gray ice full of tiny bubbles does. Upon encountering patches of transparent ice lie down and peer into the liquid water below.  You may be surprised at the activity you see in 32 F water.   We’ll not explain further. Go look.  Black ice is often seen around the inundated bases of tree trunks where the water is last to freeze.  The sunlight absorbed by the trunk keeps the water next to it warmer. Even after intense periods of cold you might find halos of liquid water around trunks.

Most all substances upon cooling become steadily denser.  Water is an exception. At 39 F, as bonds between the molecules form, it becomes less dense until at 32 F when it follows the usual pattern again of increasing density as the temperature continues to drop.  However, since less dense than liquid water ice floats.  If it was denser you’d need SCUBA gear and a good wet suit to skate on the frozen bottom.

Mother Nature’s art using a black and white ice medium. Can you find a head as well as a heart? – Judy Schneider photo

Why is ice less dense?   Let’s imagine the water molecules dancing individually as their surroundings cool. They slow and get closer, attracted by each other and at 39 F start to form bonds.  The tired dancers are going from a frenetic jitterbug to a waltz. By 32 F even if shy they cling to one another but in a formal way arms extended.  Another way looking at this might be to envision a rugby scrum at 39 F when the players are ordered out of the scrum into formation, one arm forward to another’s shoulder the other sideways to another. By 32 F all are so bonded with spaces now between them so the solid formed in less dense.  The extended arms represent chemical bonds.  H-O-H — H-O-H —  H-O-H —   etc. where the –s represents bonds between the H2O molecules.  The vast crystalline solid formed is called ice.  The energy lost in the freezing process is about 80 cal/g or about that energy in baby’s bite of toast.  This amount of energy is called the heat of fusion.  A gram of ice has about 1/18 x 6.023 x 1023 molecules.  If you want to see that number written out with all its zeros write .33 followed by 23 zeros.  Now of course you want know how this enormous number was determined. Go on line and look up Avogadro’s number.  The explanation is extremely elegant.

Let’s leave that research for another day and go check the ice. BE CAREFUL. The temperature as of this writing has been below freezing for the last few days.   40 F is predicted for tomorrow. The ice receiving the right amount of heat will melt to free

jitterbugging molecules.




  Precipitation Data* for Month of:  Sep Oct Nov Dec
  30 Year Normal (1981 – 2010) Inches  3.77 4.40 4.55 4.12
   2016 Central Watershed Actual  1.85 6.81 4.1**  2.6**as of Dec 23

 Ipswich R. Flow Rate (S. Middleton USGS Gage) in Cubic Feet/ Second (CFS):

For Dec 23, 2016   Normal . . . 60 CFS    Current Rate  . . .35 CFS


*Danvers Water Filtration Plant, Lake Street, Middleton is the source for actual precipitation data thru Oct.

** Middleton Stream Team is the source of actual precipitation data for Nov and Dec.

Normals data is from the National Climatic Data Center.

 THE WATER CLOSET is provided by the Middleton Stream Team: or          <>


Letterboxing is an active way to have fun outside for all ages. Enjoy the beauty of nature while taking on an awesome treasure hunt! Two Cadette Girl Scouts have hidden 17 letterboxes on 4 of Middleton’s scenic nature trails.

How many can YOU find?  Come take a hike, enjoy the scenery, and have some fun following our clues while exploring Middleton’s wonderful trails!  Each hike is different, ranging from less than half a mile to 3.5 miles.  We challenge you to find all 17 of our letterboxes! 

To letterbox, follow the clues and look for our purple and clear plastic containers, which are called letterboxes. In each  letterbox, you will find a stamp, an ink pad, a pen, and notebook. Bring your own stamp and notebook. Letterboxes can be found by following the clues provided on the links below.  They are hidden in spaces like under rocks or logs or in trees. They can be hidden with rocks, sticks, bark,etc.  You will need to search for them and uncover them.  When you  find a letterbox, stamp your stamp into the letterbox’s notebook and write your name and the date. Stamp the stamp provided in the letterbox into your personal notebook. Collect all the stamps you can from other letterboxes in your own personal letterboxing notebook!  Always remember to re-hide the letterboxes exactly as you found them so they are ready for the next person to find. Safety tips:  Hike with a buddy, bring water and a snack, use insect repellent, and always check for ticks!  Good luck and have fun!

Letterboxing is like a treasure hunt in nature.
Letterboxing is like a treasure hunt in nature.
  Links for clues and location/directions:
Reservoir Trail Series (6)  Box #267793
Reservoir Trail Series (3 miles) (6 boxes):  This hike is the most scenic.  It is along the Middleton Reservoir and has much wildlife.  There is an area with many herons and nests.  Also, if you bring a strainer on this hike, you can catch waterlife in vernal pools!  The six stamps in the letterboxes on this hike are all letters, and spell out a secret word at the end of the hike. 
Cudhea Crick Loop Series (3) Box #267796
Cudhea Crick Loop (1.6 miles) (3 boxes):  This wooded trail is beautiful as it goes over Boston Brook and starts near Prichards Pond.  It is a bit of a rougher hike than the other and can be seasonably wet, but is very rewarding.  It is near Boy Scout Bridge Trail.  
Boyscout Bridge Trail Series (3) Box #267797
Boy Scout Bridge Trail (.4 miles) (3 boxes):  This is a short hike that goes over Boston Brooke full of adventure.  This hike is perfect for younger children as it is only .4 miles and has clues and excitement every step of the way.  It is near Cudhea Crick Loop. 
Bald Hill Pirate Series (3.5 mi roundtrip) (5) Box #267864
Bald Head Pirate Series (3.5 miles) (5 boxes):  In this series of letterboxes, the clues are written with a pirate theme and you are sent on a mission.  There are ancient graveyards, an old rusty car, remnants of a burned down house, and the peak of Bald Hill on this hike.  The stamps are hand carved with a pirate theme.
All clues can also be found on by doing a letterbox search either by location (Middleton) or by specific box number or names. You can also download the mobile app BoxFinder.


Middleton Stream Team Winter Hike January 31, 2016

A group of 25 hikers, led by Pike Messenger, explored the hilly and forested terrain West of North Liberty Street. The group viewed historic stone foundations remaining from early settlers in the region as well as large peat bogs, and many stone walls marking old boundaries. The last portion of the hike took the group along Boston Brook. Here we saw a large beaver dam, and the remains of an old mill.
Although the warm weather negated the plan to have an “ice hike” the group was still able to easily get to places that are not usually as accessible in the winter months.


Invitation to the 2016


Sunday, January 31, 1pm

 All are invited to join Middleton Stream Team’s cool Annual Winter Hike in the wintery wilds of northern Middleton.  We will visit the impoundments which are home to the beavers, birds and wildlife and walk on ice where safe; places “you can’t get to from here” nearly all year.

Meet at 12:50 PM, Sunday, January 31st, on the unpaved section of North Liberty Street, about a mile north of Prichard’s Pond; or about 2 miles north (total) from Maple Street (Route 62).  From Maple Street, take Liberty Street (which becomes North Liberty Street). From Sharpener’s Pond Road go south and look for a group of parked cars.  The hike will end at the starting point before 4 PM.

Wear warm clothing, warm non-slip foot gear, and bring a hiking stick if you have one. Anticipate some rough spots and ice.

       Please check our web site the morning of the hike in case of possible changes due to snow or ice conditions. Email or call (978) 777-4584 if you have any questions.

PS – This is a good opportunity to take photos for the 2016 MST Photo Contest, so bring your camera.