Thursday, January 22, 2009

January 22, 2009 - Proving Grounds, Scituate, Massachusetts

For the past two summers, I've participated in the state's Breeding Bird Atlas 2 project. Last year, as a regional coordinator for the project, I looked at the map of the available blocks and noticed a tiny sliver of Scituate coastline that was a block unto itself. I realized it would be silly to assign it to anybody else, and took the task for myself.

I walked here last summer on two or three occasions. Most of the area within the block falls in the old military proving grounds utilized by the Army at the end of World War I. The old documents list it as "1 1/2 miles north of Scituate" - meaning the harbor - and as accessible from the Watertown Arsenal by means of a macadamized road. This was important. The arsenal was providing carriages for howitzers that needed testing and the proving grounds were the spot to find out if they would do the job for which they were made. The Greenbush train line was as useful as that macadam road in getting those carriages to town, and the fact that Scituate Harbor was so close by allowed the Army to consider testing 155 millimeter howitzers from as far away as Bridgeport, Connecticut.

One hundred and thirty enlisted men and ten officers once worked here. During the Second Worl War it became the headquarters of the local Irish mossers. Today's it's overgrown with briars and overrun with robins. And blue jays. And cedar waxwings. And only half of it is publicly accessible, as half is privately owned and possibly in line for development. I walked around and through the public side, straining to hear the voices and the booms of the past, to no satisfaction.

Time: 38 minutes.

New species: cedar waxwing (90).

Stranger hellos: None.

What else happened: eight hours at work, dinner with the in-laws, some more writing, some more photo scanning for an upcoming book.

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