Friends of Alewife Reservation (FAR)        Join Email List     DONATE!
Get email when website is updated

it's private
The Alewife Reservation has a new Friend
Alewife Spring Exhibition begins

added to website April 12, 2013

Friends of Alewife Reservation is sponsoring walks on the first Friday of every month 1-5 from Alewife Reservation with botanist Walter Kittredge who is doing a region-wide herbarium project to bring attention to the local New England flora, its presence and value.

He is Senior Curatorial Assistant at the Harvard University Herbaria, a worldwide research collection of over 5 million dried plant specimens. Walter is also the Assistant Curator of the New England Botanical Club Herbarium. Walter has 35 years experience as a botanist and 25 years experience as a Wetlands Delineator consultant. Walter is co-author with Bryan Hamlin of Changes in the Flora of the Middlesex Fells Reservation. Walter leads educational hikes on plant identification and ecology, and created a nature trail for the Dark Hollow Pond Trail which is now called Bear Hill Habitats, Current research focuses on documenting the largest trees of the Fells using the Eastern Native Tree Society methodology. Walter has participated in Biodiversity Days at various DCR properties, and conducts floristic inventories of conservation areas throughout eastern Massachusetts.

He recently published a scientific article on research of the flora of the Middlesex Fells Reservation (Rhodora 114: 229-308. 2012.)

He also wrote a popular article on this subject (Arnoldia 70: 2-11. 2013.)

Walter will be posting sightings and musings regularly with FAR so that all can participate in one way or another.

Be in touch with Walter directly for more information and for signing up for his walks.
Phone: 978-270-0151,

You may also call FAR for further information on these walks: 617 415-1884

Walter's work will be listed on the Tasks pages of the website for the future.

A Flora Project with needed tasks of observing and photographing plants to re-survey the Reservation will be listed. People can make observations or take photographs at any time to send him, and he will try to identify them. What he found at the Fells was that many eyes are needed to spot things, which can come and go or just be in a place you didn't look. We will have his Sightings and Musings and Specimen collecting regularly on our FAR website.

4/4/13 Alewife Reservation Musings and Sightings By Walter Kittredge:

With the snow all gone and temperatures breaking fifty degrees it feels as though spring is finally here. For my first foray I decided to venture out into the urban wilds of Alewife Reservation. I started my walk with occasional quick showers interspersed with the warm sun peeking out and making a rainbow. The air was full of birdsong from the flocks of redwing blackbirds to the chitting of a single killdeer. In the wet grassy meadow by the parking lot a pair of woodcocks flew off into the bushes, while in a nearby pool alder catkins dangled over mallard ducks dabbling in the water with their tails up in the air.

Walking along the North Trail patches of white snowdrops provided the first showy flowers below a thorny tangle of blackberries and multiflora rose. A rabbit scurried into the brambles at my approach to join a flock of sparrows making good use of the cover. Looking over the edge of the greenish Little River a very big carp made a bigger splash roiling the muddy bottom. Further along a pontoon bridge of wooden pallets stretched halfway across the river, a fishing pier perhaps? Here a blue heron flapped away with its enormous wings beating slowly to find a more secluded fishing spot. On the far edge of the river a muskrat motored along as oblivious to me as the cloud of midges dancing overhead in the staghorn sumac.

In the alluvial flats last year's tearthumb vines lay flattened. Along with mats of once tall canary reed grass they provide the clayey soil with protection from beating rains, whereas bare soil hosts an army of invasive garlic mustard seedlings marching along the trail. In the next opening yet another pair of woodcocks sprang up at my feet beating a hasty retreat. On my way back I caught a glimpse of iridescent blue-green at the edge of Muskrat Marsh. On investigating I found a male turkey with four hens working the edges for seeds and bugs and the first green shoots.

I had a purpose to my hike, to start a re-inventory of the Reservation's plants, and in doing so discovered a dozen new plants there. But the strongest impression I was left with was the amazing amount of wildlife making use of this sliver of wild lands left among the high-rises and highways. The Alewife Reservation is a good place to slow down and relax from the hectic city, and see what used to be everyday sights and sounds for our predecessors.