The Other Tom with a Wattle

April 8th, 2008 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

Yes, wattle (caruncles), but not Menino. This tom is the big guy over at the Boston Nature Center.

He was out, about, strutting and warning with his insistent gobble. Unlike the nasty Brookline feathered foul fowl, this one made his noises, but never charged or nipped or clawed. In fairness to his tom-hood, I’d note that he is a good moocher, spending part of each day at the nature-center building and earning grain from the staff. He doesn’t necessarily see humans as enemies, although he didn’t see see as a food giver.

Strolling tom

I walked the short wooded trails at the Audubon’s sanctuary in Mattapan just across American Legion Highway from JP. He was the wildest thing about and let me know early and often that he was watching.

Click the gobble link (new window or tab) for what this tom sounds like:

Tom turkey gobble

Pic click trick: To see a bigger image of the tom, click a thumbnail.

Fox trail signI found him on sendero del zorro (the fox trail). There is copse of wee trees with stands of bushes. My chum clearly had an Adam-and-Eve moment. By his pacing and sounds, he seemed dismayed at his exposure. None of the trees or bushes offered foliage to hide him. When he stands with neck upright, he would come to my waist. He must have sensed that a few canes of brush didn’t hide him.

There are several trails there, including rabbit and snail. This is a place that is easy enough for small kid, with only the fox trail long enough to make them complain.

The sanctuary is on a marshland abutting Old Brook, a tributary of Stony Brook. I’d love to see a map of how they are connected. I think I’ll look for one.

The parts that flood and become swampy have boardwalks over them.

The center is not that crowded, because it is mildly inconvenient to find. You can drive to it, but don’t. That isn’t very nature friendly. It’s a mile and a half walk from the Forest Hills Station. You can also take the #14 bus that runs from Dudley to Rozzie Square and get off a few hundred yards away at Walk Hill and American Legion.

It’s across Walk Hill from the Mt. Hope Cemetery. It’s quiet and peaceful. You get to pass the huge community vegetable and flower gardens too. There’s a small center building where they answer questions and arranges tours, as well as give classes in birding and such.

Trotting tomBack to the tom, he has a great beard of feathers running off his sternum. He has a number of hens who follow him, but they were not visible today.

He let me know with that gobble that I was on his turf and he paralleled me on the trail. He stopped when I did, withdrew if I walked into the brush toward him, but always kept me in sight.

When I rounded the hard turn, he took his chance to stride with his neck out and much faster than his stroll. He crossed the trail close to me, turned to watch, maybe to make sure I was leaving, and then he flew across Old Brook. On foot, he didn’t look very aerodynamic, but he was over the brook in a second or two.

I realized then that is probably where the hens are nestling. He likely had wanted to make sure I didn’t head over there. Clever these turkeys.

Even when you don’t run into this great feathered fellow, it’s a fun visit. There are places to stop and sit and picnic. The summer and fall have great displays of wild flowers. The frogs and creepy crawlies are out starting in the spring.

There are city parks and country parks, city turkeys and country turkeys. This is Mattapan in the country.

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