My favorite part of the Emerald Necklace was actually the middle part between the Back Bay Fens and the end at Franklin Park. It’s three ponds with paths wandering around them that eventually lead to the arboretum.
How awesome is that? The back half of Leverett pond is a little brook that leads from the Riverway and the Fens.
To get to the other ponds, I had to walk over a rickety wooden walkway that I later discovered is the norm to traverse marshy areas. It apparently isn’t a marsh trek if you don’t feel like you’re going to fall in at any moment.
I walked around one of the wooded trails in the area and ran into several creatures, including this huge insect:
This bad dude is a broad-necked root borer. He was about two inches long (translation: ginormous) and was crawling up a plant next to me while I took pictures of these two fledgling grackles that were playing in some water:
They were totally fine with me until their parent showed up and pointed out the random person taking pictures. There were also a ton of waterbirds on all the ponds, including mute swans and the ubiquitous mallards.
Once I got to Jamaica Pond, there was a set of stairs leading up. Obviously I had to take it. You understand, right? I’m glad I did: it led to an area that used to hold several old mansions. Now, it holds several surprises:
Lots. And lots. And lots. Of cedar waxwings. And they really don’t care that you’re there or not; one landed in the tree right above me while it was taking a break from picking berries off the ground.
I have to give Boston this: the birds don’t hide like the ones in the Midwest do, so every picture isn’t an epic game of I-Spy. On the other hand, Boston also has some pretty awesome water features going for it.
I was trying to speed up a bit by this time because a big storm was rolling in. Walking faster was actually a very good thing, as it turns out. I was several feet beyond this tree when I heard a sharp crack! The jogger that had run under it behind me was barely a half-second from having a pretty bad concussion at the least.
That’s right. This entire tree suddenly decided to split in half and fall across the path. I decided it was probably time to walk to the Arboretum, which it turns out is totally and completely green:
Imagine that. Well, it wasn’t all green. Some of it had a red tail.
This is an adult red-tailed hawk that was sitting in a tree branch letting people walk up to take pictures of it. Apparently the birds in these parks are so used to people that they’ve lost all fear of them. How odd is that? A park ranger came out thinking it was sick (the same one that had scared off the starlings earlier), only for it to fly haphazardly into a bush and come up doing this:
She had found a delicious mouse sitting right next to where I was standing with the park ranger. I hadn’t even noticed it, so not only must my eyesight be failing, but my hearing is as well. We decided to leave the bird to her dinner, and I walked along some of the other paths of the arboretum with the hope of climbing the tallest hill in the park.
After an unfortunate wrong turn that landed me in the middle of a smoking party, I wandered up a smaller trail that lead to this rabbit. Why do I care about this rabbit? Obviously he did something amusing to me, right? Well, he did. When he caught me looking at him, he had the most hilarious reaction to a ‘predator’ that I think I’ve ever seen:
If this rabbit had a name, it would be Sméagol. Anyway, I finally got to the top of the hill to eat dinner and watch some people set up a doggy play-date with their pets. The view was pretty phenomenal.
After the Arboretum, I had one more park to visit, so I booked it to the little side trail that would take me to Franklin Park. On the way, I was sidetracked by a mass hiding in one of the trees.
Turns out it was a wee bonny Cooper’s hawk fledgling that was hanging out and preening itself in the tree.
I actually had the nerve to be mildly disappointed in the midst of my excitement despite the fact that this was a new species. Before getting a closer look at it, I had thought it might have been an owl. Now, I’ve been pretty obsessed with owling for a while because the Other Half has never seen a wild owl before. The one time we saw an owl, the Other Half was kneeling down taking a picture of a butterfly. A butterfly. As the owl flew over his head. And I was pointing, saying , ‘Look up!’ He probably thought I was pulling a fast one, but he totally missed out on an awesome barred owl not 4 feet from his face.
But I digress, as per usual. The little trail I followed out of the park was very peaceful, replete with wildflowers and spouses venting their marital troubles at the top of their lungs. I’ll let you guess which part I got a picture of.
This was probably 30 minutes from sunset, and I still had another park to circle. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize I was going to the least safe park near dusk until afterward. Apparently having the crazy-bird-hunting-woman vibe pays off, though because I only met one unsavoury individual among the several really nice people who were also wandering around. Besides, it was totally worth it to see the sunset over the golf course.
And on the ride home, I got to ride in the station wagon of the MBTA trains: the Orange line. Because who doesn’t think wood paneling is awesome?