(See  slideshow below)

On a sunny April afternoon approximately seventy people, young to old, headed out on the trail from Lake Street around Middleton Pond. First stop was a lesson in tree identification (hemlock, spruce, red pine and white pine). Then we engaged the children in a lesson calculating the age of white pines by counting the rows of branches emerging together from the trunk. This put our lesson tree at 13 years old.

The children tested their nets and containers at the causeway of the pond.  As we proceeded up the hill towards the Great Blue Heron rookery we heard the loud chirping of the wood frogs beside a nearby vernal pool.

At the beaver pond and rookery the group took time to admire the many nests with birds perched atop them, and marvel as the big birds flew among the trees. Many in the group had not observed a rookery in the past.

Leaving the birds behind we proceeded back to the causeway where Bob Anderson provided information about vernal pools and the ecosystem they support. We climbed the trail a short way to a large vernal pool, hearing the wood frogs as we approached. The crowd spread out for exploration with nets, containers, eyes and cameras. Species “captured” and returned included fairy shrimp, wood frog, red backed salamander, insect larvae, rower insect, and wood frog egg masses. All finds led to excitement.

The hike took in one more sight after the pool, as what Middleton Stream Team hike would be complete without seeing a beaver dam. Here we heard about the important role beavers play in our ecosystem and everyone admired the two dams squeezed between the hill sides. One boy found 3 or 4 garter snakes along the trails, the last uphill from the beaver dam. Everyone admired his finds. Garter snakes are the official reptile of Massachusetts.

All in all everyone seemed to enjoy the outdoors, the experience, and showed appreciation for the wonderful sights available in Middleton. Thanks to all who joined us on this nice spring day.