Dighton Rock State Park (read more here)

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.”  

From The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

 

Dighton Rock State Park.  The kids seemed to be bored at this park. Not much to see they say. They didn’t seem interested in going back.  A dog owner with his dog unleashed didn’t make the adventure any less painfull as one of my granddaughters is frightened by dogs. (dog owners, please follow the rules on leashed pets, so we can all enjoy the park).  So, after some noisily exhaled sighs, and the promise of Simcock Farms ice cream, they relented and off we went. This time, we were going to look at the park different, as any young aspiring scientist might do, determined not to return until we took in what Nature had to offer us. Below image,  the tapestry of grass, trees and sunlight becomes quite beautiful indeed.  The eastern milk snake, belowhas brownish colors that help it to hide under dry leaves. (They pretend to be what they are not. Some snakes, butterflies and moths use this type of camouflage.)  Later that evening I thought it be advised to educate the girls on distinguishing venomous from non-venomous snakes. As you can see, the milk snake may resemble the copper head snake or other venomous snakes. We want to be snake safe. They understand not to panic if they come across a snake.  The young explorers will appreciate each animal for their role within the environment,  so educate your child about the risks associated with that animal. At the same time you can have fun doing it too!

And of course, there is the Rock. Almost everyone who visited or saw images of Dighton Rock argued that they saw something different in the engravings. The number of tourists and interested scholars seems to have fallen over the last few years, and the mystery of the symbols on the Dighton Rock may never be solved. We will go into the facts and myths on a later post.

Lady slipper plants, (below) — also known as moccasin flowers. The story behind these beautiful wild flowers. Native American folklore tells the story of a young maiden who ran barefoot in the snow in search of medicine to save her tribe, but was found collapsed on the way back from her mission with swollen, frozen feet. As a result, beautiful lady slipper flowers then grew where her feet had been as a reminder of her bravery. Endangered or threatened in New England, we discuss the reasons not to disturb our environment.  As beautiful these plants are, we should be discouraged to pick or dig up the flower. It may be illegal also to do so. Anyway, we want to see it next year in the same place, hopefully many more. And just as expected, using saved GPS coordinates from 2016, it was there in the same location. This was good news for us, as the Slipper was quite visible to any hikers.

Because the plant takes many years to grow from seed to maturity, special rules are in place to ensure its survival. They rely on a process called symbiosis (A relationship between two organisms that last over a period of time.)to survive, which is typical of most orchid species. Symbiosis is when an organism, in this case a fungus found in the soil, is needed for a plant to grow and thrive. The fungus breaks open the lady slipper seed and attaches to it, passing on the food and nutrients needed for it to flourish. Once the lady slipper plant is mature and producing its own nutrients, the fungus will extract nutrients from the orchid roots. READ MORE

Click on Image Below

 

 

Below: Now this is a great find. We never seen this before in nature. A Wool Sower Gall Wasp. The gall is caused by secretions from the grubs of the gall wasp, which will only build it on white oak and only in spring.  Also, these particular oak gall wasps are parasitic — they depend on another organism, an oak, to grow to maturity and to lay eggs. Click on the image for a closer look.

Another great find, the Cinnamon fern, so named for the brownish look it starts to get in the late summer and fall. This fern is fairly bushy, with a verdant green color and delicate, lacy fronds. They grow in large bushy groupings. They are found all along the eastern US including Massachusetts. They love moist woodland areas. Click image to explore

 

The eastern milk snake, belowhas brownish colors that help it to hide under dry leaves. (They pretend to be what they are not. Some snakes, butterflies and moths use this type of camouflage.)  Later that evening I thought it be advised to educate the girls on distinguishing venomous from non-venomous snakes. As you can see, the milk snake may resemble the copper head snake or other venomous snakes. We want to be snake safe. They understand not to panic if they come across a snake.  The young explorers will appreciate each animal for their role within the environment,  so educate your child about the risks associated with that animal. At the same time you can have fun doing it too!

Do you know what a nursing log or stump is?  A nurse log is a fallen tree which, as it decays, provides ecological facilitation to seedlings. (image below) Small animals such as various squirrels often perch or roost on nurse logs, adding to the litter by food debris and scat. The decay of this detritus contributes to the formation of a rich humus that provides a seedbed and adequate conditions for germination.

Nurse logs and stumps. Below, the arrow points out beginning of growth, nurtured by the decaying log.

 

Below, the girls having some fun

So, the park isn’t all that boring is it?, when you look a bit deeper.

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