You are currently browsing the monthly archive for July 2013.

Looking east from the top of an old ski trail

Looking east from the top of an old ski trail



As I stood near the summit of Big Bear Mountain in Brookline, NH, it occurred to me that the last time I’d been there I had been strapped to a pair of wooden skis with something we called bear trap bindings. Back then it was known as the Brookline Ski Tow and safety release bindings hadn’t been invented yet.

But that was in the previous millennium. Today, it’s easy to see the course of the old ski slopes, though they’re overgrown with brush, and sculptures dot the landscape. Much of the mountain now belongs to the Andres Institute of Art, which maintains a network of hiking trails linking 75 outdoor sculptures.

They range in size from a single strand of granite chimes to the 15-foot tall, 110 ton “Phoenix.” The artists are from all over the world –the Czech Republic, Kenya, Vietnam – every continent is represented. Some were mildly interesting, but others forced me to stop and think.

Every year the Institute holds a symposium and hosts guest artists who are invited to create a sculpture to be placed anywhere they want on the grounds. There’s more information on their website

I spent two hours Saturday wandering the trails and looking at the sculptures, and I saw maybe half of what was there. I’m definitely returning to see the rest.



A boardwalk through the marshes at Plum Island

A boardwalk through the marshes at Plum Island


I recently spent an afternoon birding at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge on Plum Island. For an inland person like me, it’s a great place to see a wide variety of shorebirds in a relatively small space. Driving south along the access road there are a number of turnouts, many with short trails leading to good viewing areas.

It was a kind of spur-of-the moment decision. My son and daughter-in-law live in Newburyport and I was up visiting when Ben suggested we go birding. I was a bit surprised because he’s spent the first 30 years of his life steadfastly disinterested in birding. He started telling me all the species he’d seen so far, and he showed me the new Audubon app on his smartphone.

With that kind of enthusiasm, who am I to say no?

Maryam was out in Colorado working on her Ph.D., so it was just the two of us. Of course we picked the middle of a day during our recent heat wave, not the optimum conditions for birding. Undeterred, we plunged on. Most of the beach was closed off because the piping plovers were nesting. Oh well. So we decided to explore the marshes along the west side of the island.

At our first stop there wasn’t a lot of activity, a couple of gulls, Canada geese and mallards. I see plenty of them back home. We stopped at the Hellcat area, reputed to be a hotspot for birding. Not today. Walking along the dune trail we stopped to get a better look at a bird that was flitting from tree to tree fairly close to us. We trained our binoculars on it hoping to get a good look at something exotic.

A gray catbird. I’ve got a couple of them hanging out in my backyard. We stopped at another lookout.  More mallards and a few red-wing blackbirds. The fields behind my house are full of them. Off in the distance we did see a few snowy egrets. That was good.

Finally, walking back towards the parking area, a robin hopped ahead of us. Great.

It didn’t matter that it wasn’t a success as a birding expedition, that was really secondary. It was just great to be out with my son in such a beautiful setting.




Nature Blog Network


RSS The Ecocryptic

  • Maine DEP update July 31, 2013
    Maine Department of Environmental Protection has reversed itself and will schedule a public hearing on proposed changes to the state's clean air standards. No date has been set.Environmental groups, legislators, and the general public were outraged when the Portland Press Herald reported yesterday that the state agency had tried to sneak through the cha […]
  • At Maine’s DEP, it’s the fox guarding the henhouse July 30, 2013
    What happens when you put an industry lobbyist in charge of environmental protection? Just take a look at what’s going on in Maine. According to an article in today’s Portland Press-Herald, the state’s Department of Environmental Protection wants to weaken the state’s clean-air regulations, and they don’t want anyone to know about it.No public hearings have […]
  • Northern Pass Rears Its Ugly Head (Again) July 15, 2013
    Despite massive public opposition, significantly over-budget, and three years behind schedule,  the CEO of the Northern Pass Project vows the controversial high voltage transmission line will be built.The project is a 180-mile power line that would bring power from Canada to New England. It first came to the attention of environmentalists and others when the […]
  • Stung by Criticism, Utilities Go on Tree-Cutting Rampage August 11, 2012
    Here in the northeast, we’ve been hit by a succession of “weather events” – ice storms, wind-storms, hurricanes, early snowfall, late snowfall. Each one offered the utility companies serving this area to demonstrate once again that they were completely unprepared. In each case, customers in the most advanced country in the world were left without power for w […]
  • Victory for the Blackstone: Court backs EPA, Worcester must stop dumping sewage into river August 7, 2012
    Score one for the Blackstone River, and all the people who care about it. The U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals has lifted a stay of enforcement of an EPA order that will force upgrades at the Upper Blackstone Water Pollution Abatement district sewage treatment plant, according to an article in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.The problem is a simple o […]
  • NH Senate Denies Eminent Domain for Northern Pass – Or Does It? January 30, 2012
    Under intense public scrutiny, the New Hampshire Senate last week approved a bill that supposedly sets limits on the use of eminent domain to seize property for public projects and excludes using it for privately-funded projects. That would seem to exclude the controversial Northern Pass project, a proposed 180-mile transmission line that would bring hydroel […]
  • Northern Pass Developers Pushing State To Take Land By Force January 24, 2012
    Ever since the controversy began over the construction of a new transmission line to bring power from Canada into New Hampshire slicing through some of that state’s most scenic landscape, the backers of the project have been quietly lobbying for eminent domain powers to force reluctant landowners along the proposed route to sell.The issue gets its first real […]
  • The Balsams Landscape Has Been Saved! January 15, 2012
    Every once in a while the good guys win one.The Society for the Preservation of New Hampshire Forests has reached its goal of raising $850,000 to buy a 5,800-acre parcel of land near the famous Balsams Grand Hotel in Dixville Notch, NH. They made the announcement in a statement yesterday on their website.The land was considered a key piece on the proposed ro […]
  • Worcester officials cite city parks to defend continued pollution of Blackstone River December 29, 2011
    I was trying to find a short, pithy way of describing the gist of an article that appeared in today’s Worcester (Mass.) Telegram & Gazette.Here’s the story.The Blackstone River has its source in Worcester and flows through Rhode Island into Narragansett Bay. Since colonial times, residents and businesses have regarded it as their personal sewage system. […]
  • Slick media campaign hides the dark side of Northern Pass October 23, 2011
    The campaign to approve the billion-dollar plan to bring hydroelectric power from Canada to New England is in full swing. The home page for the project features pictures of all the things we like about New Hampshire, things like pristine lakes and woods. What it doesn’t show are the 140 miles of transmission lines criss-crossing the White Mountains, with 135 […]

RSS Martin Laine – Digital Journal

  • Giant tortoise species brought back from brink of extinction
    A species of Galapagos giant tortoises that numbered just 15 individuals 50 years ago, now has a healthy breeding population numbering over a thousand. The news is a rare bright spot at a time when the outlook for many species is increasingly bleak.
  • Stockholm’s backseat therapists to help battle ‘winter blues’
    As the months of extended darkness loom in the northern latitudes, so does the lethargy and depression known as “winter blues.” One Stockholm taxicab company is offering to have a therapist talk with their passengers during their ride.
  • New home colon cancer test goes on the market today
    Beginning today, a new home test for colorectal cancer will be available by prescription. The hope is that the millions of Americans who have been avoiding the unpleasant alternative testing methods will take advantage of it.
  • Heart transplant breakthrough could make more hearts available
    Surgeons in Australia have successfully transplanted hearts that had stopped beating, a major breakthrough in the process that had usually used only beating hearts. This could significantly increase the number of hearts available for transplantation.
  • Denmark rolls out the welcome mat for returning Jihadists
    While officials in many western countries are wringing their hands over what to do about those citizens who want to return after fighting with one of the extremist groups in Syria and Iraq, Denmark welcomes its returning Jihadists with open arms.
  • 'Let me survive this' says fugitive cop-killer lookalike
    Pity James Tully who has the misfortune of resembling Eric Frein, the object of a massive manhunt following the ambush shooting of two police officers six weeks ago, and who lives in Canadensis, Pa., the epicenter of the search.
  • Nine in Conn. ordered quarantined, monitored for Ebola
    Nine people, including a family of six, have been ordered to stay in their homes for the next three weeks while public health officials check for signs that they have contracted the Ebola virus. None of them have shown any signs of the illness so far.
  • Mass. stool bank offers donors $40 a poop
    Ever since the discovery that healthy human stool bacteria could be used to cure such debilitating diseases as colitis, the medical profession has struggled with two problems — collecting a sufficient supply and finding a way to get it into a patient.
  • Chinese officials scramble to find Putin’s tiger before poachers
    Kuzya, a 23-month-old orphaned Siberian tiger that Russian President Vladimir Putin helped release back into the wild in May, has crossed into China. The last thing Chinese officials want is for Kuzya to fall victim to poachers.
  • Trial raises questions over Navy's order for silencers
    What started out as an investigation into an alleged contract fraud scheme by a U.S. Navy directorate involving untraceable rifle silencers has raised questions about whether they were part of a secret mission or rogue operation.