Nature Notes

October 11, 2013
Fawn Lake in September 2013  Image (c) Sue Harrison
Fawn Lake in September 2013 Image (c) Susanne Harrison

By Susanne Harrison, Occasional Contributor

During our walk around Fawn Lake on a late September afternoon, we saw a beautiful young garter snake sunning himself on the woodland path.  He was only about two feet long, and he held his head up, watching us warily, as we warily watched him.  Fortunately, my husband Ron stepped over him by chance.  Garter snakes are black, with yellow stripes down the length of their bodies and in the sun, he glistened.  He was alerted to our presence, and he looked healthy. Garter snakes are common throughout the USA and are in fact the Massachusetts State Reptile.

Further around the lake, we saw a dead painted turtle.  It looked as though someone had accidentally stepped on it.  The beautiful red and orange markings could still be seen along the edge of the black carapace. We tossed it into the woods for nature to take its course.

Later, a pair of phoebes flitted about, wagging their tails. They are a familiar and common bird, with gray/brown back and head, and a white chest and bib.  Phoebes generally eat flying insects, including mosquitoes, which they catch mid-air, but they also sometimes eat ground insects such as ticks.  They will be migrating south for the winter.

Our appreciation of nature was disturbed by the sad state of Fawn Lake itself.  It is clogged with water lilies and clumps of bubbling yellow green algae.  This witches’ brew is unattractive to humans and animals alike.  Last summer, a pair of swans took up residence at Fawn Lake.  This spring, they dropped in for a day or two, then left, not finding the environment to their liking.  We saw no evidence of recent beaver activity and the beavers appear to have moved on.  We haven’t seen many Canada geese either.  Some will consider this a blessing.  In addition, the lake’s condition makes for bumpy ice skating in winter, and poor quality fishing in season.

The Town has made several efforts to restore Fawn Lake; however the “lake” is actually a shallow, man-made pond that is difficult to keep vegetation-free.  It is fed by a small stream that does not provide adequate water flow much of the year to keep water moving in the lake.  Previously, the Town allocated monies to hire a consultant and a decision was made to pursue hydroraking and herbicide applications.  These remedies were tried several times between 2003 and 2010.*  Evidently, the Conservation Commission is again engaging in discussions to ameliorate the Fawn Lake problem.  I hope that a way can be found to restore Fawn Lake to its former beauty.

*Information obtained from the Conservation Commission web site.

Fawn Lake, September 2013   Image (c) Susanne Harrison
Fawn Lake, September 2013 Image (c) Susanne Harrison


Editor’s Note: Susanne Harrison has agreed to contribute occasional articles of interest. Do you have something you would like to share with The Citizen’s readers? Email [email protected] and submit your ideas!

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