Friday, May 22, 2009

May 22, 2009 - Swift Property, Union Street, Marshfield, Massachusetts

People grouse about it now, and it always comes down to a close vote, but when all is said and done, the good that has come of the Community Preservation Act in Massachusetts will make it all worthwhile.

One of the five corners of the CPA pentagon is open space. The people of Marshfield voted at the last town meeting to purchase the Swift property, old farmland that will continue to be mowed as a grassland. And that is an important factor for today's story.

We got the call earlier in the week that there was something special happening in the fields at Swift. (I guess that's what I'm gonna call it from now on). Caterpillars! Caterpillars by the hundreds. So we took our Friday morning birding program there today, after a stop at the Ferry Hill Thicket. And the caller was right.

The plantains there were loaded, just dripping with them: Baltimore checkerspot caterpillars. They will turn out to be stunning black, orange and white butterflies before the summer is over. And it's just amazing. These little caterpillars weren't conceived this year; they overwintered on the ground underneath the plants they're climbing on and consuming today. That's through all the snow, the ice, the freezing rains we had this winter.

In about a month, a walk here in the sunshine will be absolutely colorful. I'll have to remember to come back. Maybe, if it's a slow day, we'll bring the Friday morning group back again. Thank you, voters of Marshfield, for saving yet another special place.

Time: 40 minutes.

New species: (Birds) least flycatcher, northern goshawk, least sandpiper, Wilson's warbler (238); (Wildflowers in Bloom) whorled pogonia, spring cress (35).

Stranger hellos: 1 (317).

What else is going on: built the patio set, opened the pool; post office; posted the other blog; got my copy of the June South Shore Living with my article on the history of the Powder Point Bridge in Duxbury; lots of magazine, book and newspaper work deep into the night.

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