Hidden Twitchers’ Paradise

August 1st, 2010 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

The Neponset River lures me again. Today, I followed up on the comments of the DCR staffer and BNAN guide, thumping around in another hidden border of Boston. This was the nearly invisible trails into the marshes across from Milton.

There was neither a rabbit in a vest nor a phantasmagorical world, but I pronounce it neat and certainly esoteric. I’m almost certain you can’t find it on your own and I won’t be too specific; ask me.

Following the second canoe trip, with its iteration of the presence of hidden natural treasures BACK THERE, I had to play urban-wild explorer. In candor, as it would in any good movie or TV script, my adventure only worked because of the serendipitous appearance of an expert.

My deus ex machina was Russell. He literally led me to the magic entryway.

Foolish I had taken Rob from the DCR at his word — get to the Butler stop on the Mattapan trolley. There are wonderful marshes around the ball field, with scores of waterfowl and more.

Well, yes, but…but…but…

I walked up to Butler, roughly four miles from home and was ready for some avian rewards. Finding the ball field, replete with two adult teams earnestly sportive, I toured the 10-foot chain link fence and then asked the locals. Well, they agreed there were mashes all about, but everything was fenced and there was no access.

Heading northeast, I came to other grand fences. There were MWRA warnings on tall, locked chain link gates and fences, all with barbed wire tops.

Ready to accept defeat, I was also ready for my personal trip savior. Russ appear like in a script, apparently taking out trash. He called to me asking if he could help. He could and did.

I learned:

  • That gate/fence combo marks the boundary of Boston/DCR land
  • 17 years ago, the guy across Bearse Avenue badgered the city into putting up the barriers to stop people from dumping or burning junk cars there, à la Franklin Park
  • Russ has asked the DCR to put up some boulders and such to make it more inviting for hikers and nature lovers like other parks
  • Birders love these marshes — about 100 acres there and another 100 behind the ball field
  • There are paths, esoteric paths, into the marshes

He then led me to one and described the circuitous route into the marsh there, the side route to the marsh behind the ball field, and where the trail is accessible directly from that field. Hot damn. I don’t even need binoculars or to show up with other twitchers at dawn.

Sure enough, much as the canoe-trip guides described it, there’s lots to enjoy here. I’m hard pressed to believe they don’t know how difficult it would be to  find these tiny, hidden trails. Maybe this is just more of this if-you-don’t-know-you-don’t-belong Bostonian stuff.

Rounding four bends, you see an out-of-place gravel road, with plants and birds left and right. gravelroad
waves Phragmites, which many conflate with cattails, are the amber waves of grain variation in these marshes.
For views of the tidal inlets as well as communion with the birds, getting to these marshes at high tide is worth the extra effort. marsh

Anyway, once you wind through the nearly bushwhack level trail to the marsh, there’s suddenly a gravel road to the river. It runs half a mile through phragmites, sea grass and wildflowers. Tidal inlets meander beside the road. Quail, flickers, and wading birds abound. The road leads to an overlook of the granite dock we explored by canoe.

The other trails to and through the marsh by the ball field are not paved but offer their own treasures. There are many more and more varieties of birds, likely because it has more flora and no roads.

This was my scouting expedition and I’ll return. This is definitely a picnic and camera locale.

On our canoe trips, Rob said that unfortunately wild youth met wildlife. Sure enough, near the entrances of the trails, Bud Lite cans formed blue detritus hither and yon. Yet, a few dozen yards in, it was the birds, bugs, plants and I. shall return.

Followup: I went to the other side a week later. It has different terrain and sights and is not as hard to find. More on that is here.

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