Blackstone Parks Conservancy
If you look out the windows of our erg rooms, you can see ducks on the water.  But they don’t look like the ducks we see in the summer and they certainly don’t act like the summer ducks.  In fact, some of these ducks are predators, another good reason to shut the river down in deep winter.
On Sunday, February 16nd, you can learn about our winter ducks, who consider Rhode Island their equivalent of Florida. At 2 PM, Dan Berard, noted naturalist, will lead a walk on River Road, spotting and commenting on the birds we see.  The tour will originate in the Narragansett Boat Club and also end there, with coffee and chocolate to warm you up.

They are not all pine trees! Learn how to identify conifers by needle, scale and cone.  Explore Blackstone Park. At Blackstone Field, across from the Narragansett Boat Club (2 River Rd. aka River Dr., Providence, RI 02906). Part of the Art & Exploration at Blackstone Park series, with 15 Minute Field Trips, at 10 a.m. first Saturdays July 2019 – June 2020  Check the 15 Minute Field Trips Facebook page for weather updates.

Due to forecasted inclement weather, Cones and Conifers, the January event of our “Art & Exploration” series, has been rescheduled for Saturday, January 18th, at 10:00 am.

It was a snow-covered, yet warm December morning.  Mallard ducks gathered en masse, waiting for the human tender who fed them.  The soft rustle of leaves revealed a mourning dove searching for seeds. People will gloves and cameras searched the woods and water for birds.

At the monthly Art in the Park, we had a station to make a cardinal collage and simple bird feeder. While the adults and I traded bird stories and discussed the impacts of climate change on bird migration, a family with a young boy approached. He was eager to do the craft, and excitedly cut out a bird bath and red “raindrop” shape to start his cardinal. He added his details with oil pastels and said it was the best art he ever made!  The family made two tube seed feeders and decided to explore the trails to see what birds they might find. I don’t know what they saw, but that one mourning dove I had sighted had multiplied into 14, roosting in a tree across the street. I heard another bird sing. I went to find it and discovered a tiny sparrow. I was about to leave, but something made me look up. There, on a low branch, sat a red tailed hawk, shifting her feet into her feathers to warm them while calmly surveying the site. We watched each other for a while. I did not have a camera. I can’t wait to return!

Autumn in Providence

Like a showgirl reluctant to leave the stage, autumn in Providence must be noticed: apricot, scarlet, deep purple and yellow to golden to orange to bronze, some edged with green. We can hold on to the memory of the astonishing trees in our parks, yards, and streets through the long winter nights.

November was the last best opportunity for Blackstone Parks Conservancy (BPC) volunteers to work outside in 2019, and to begin toting up all projects this year and see what they had come to.

Some projects were more visible than others. The six trees planted in Blackstone Field on River Road, for example, resulted from considerable planning to accommodate the different needs of both the BPC Education Committee for their events and the Narragansett Boat Club for their regattas. The red maples and the hackberry are thriving, but two of those trees, Prairie Fire crabapples, bear watching next spring given signs of stress.

The Education Committee led by Rick Richards is seeing if an extra river ride could be combined with a winter duck walk, both popular events. This small committee perfected the art of doing a lot with few volunteers but could accomplish more with more help.

Carrie Drake’s Park Committee held one last Park-Keeping session before the onset of mud season. Following on the heels of volunteer trail work in October, Moses Brown freshmen spread wood chips to keep the heavily used trails from compacting too much and allowing runoff. Visitors now enjoy the ease and safety brought to the York Pond steps by a new railing.

With encouragement by neighbors and the BPC, the northernmost section of Blackstone Park Conservation District, on Loring Avenue, received a long awaited pruning in October. City Forester Doug Still reports that pruning city trees with a newly organized team of climbers will continue into April, including much needed attention to the Boulevard.

On the Boulevard – Heartened by the public reaction to the new path section, the BPC board now turns to figuring out how to fund more of the worst segments. Deming Sherman reported that eight trees funded by BPC donors had been successfully planted by Groundwork Providence.

Thank you to all who are responding generously to our fall appeal. We depend on you.

Jane Peterson

Veterans Day Moonrise. Credit: Jim Hendrickson

Our 2019 Moonrise Celebration on November 11, Veterans Day, was a great party with just one glitch—no moon! Well, hardly any moon. Finally–after the crowd practice- gazed at clouds with a telescope brought by the SkyScrapers and a super-sized pair of binoculars from a Narragansett Boat Club member–the star of the event appeared, to great cheers…for about 30 seconds.

While waiting for the moonrise, more than 30 kids and adults chatted in the unseasonably warm weather, sipped cocoa, watched rowing teams speed along the river, and played in Blackstone Field.

It was hard to be disappointed with this mellow outdoor evening, especially considering the wintery weather that arrived the next day.