The DLT is hosting a Brook Walk along Ridley Brook on July 16 at 11:00 AM. Meet at the Ridley Brook swimming hole, one mile south of North Duxbury on Camel’s Hump Rd.
A Walk Up a Brook by Rachel Sargent
It’s a rainy day in May and I’m walking up Ridley Brook, checking under rocks. Medium-sized flat rocks are best: plenty of surface area but not too heavy to lift. Each rock, with its own character, situated in its unique spot on the bank, represents a different micro-habitat, a unique home to whatever might be underneath.
Today the Northern Two-lined Salamander is out in force. Nearly one rock in four has one of these quick, skinny salamanders hiding underneath. With their bright golden backs outlined by two dark streaks extending down their sides from eye to tail, they aren’t hard to spot. When I turn over the roof of their home they often take off in a sinuous golden streak.
Several other rocks yield small, black millipedes. These millipedes can’t be more than 3/4 of an inch long and they curl into a compact spiral as soon as I disturb them. Millipedes might not seem like an exciting find, but they are key players in maintaining forest ecosystem health. As one of the primary consumers of leaf and wood litter, they recycle plant material back into the forest.
Another rock reveals a Sow bug. Sow bugs are not bugs at all, but crustaceans, and are more closely related to lobsters and shrimp than to the beetles sharing their rock refuge. Like millipedes, Sow Bugs eat decaying plant matter, recycling it back into the ecosystem.
If you’re interested in finding creatures like these yourself, join me and the Duxbury Land Trust on July 16 at 11:00 for a summer brook walk at the Ridley Brook swimming hole. Bring the whole family. Collecting jars and magnifiers will be provided!