This is a great time of year to take a walk through the winding trails of Squam Swamp and see the season spring to life. This trail loop off Wauwinet Rd. takes visitors through eerily shaped stands of hardwood forest and past freshwater bogs filled with vibrant mats of sphagnum moss.
Bunches of Cinnamon Fern fiddleheads (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum) are sprouting up everywhere. As they unfurl, these lush understory plants transform the look and feel of this secluded gem of a property. Blooming Wood Anemones (Anemone quinquefolia) add splashes of white to the brown and green leaf litter along the edges of the trail. At eye-level, Highbush Blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) and Shadbush (Amelanchier sp.) are beautifully budding out.
Even on rainy days, this trail delivers some worthwhile encounters. I recently took a walk through with mycologist Lawrence Millman, author of several books including Fascinating Fungi of New England. Larry stated that although the diversity of species is lower compared to the cape, Squam Swamp has some of the highest fungal diversity on Nantucket.
Birds are also taking note of the changing season and sending out some music notes of their own. Eastern Towhees (“DRINK your Tea!”) and Carolina Wrens (“teakettle, teakettle, teakettle”) are calling heartily from the surrounding woods. Around this time a few years ago, a nesting Black and White Warbler, with a mouth full of flying insect, curiously inspected me from the edge of the trail. Be sure to keep your eyes and ears open on this trail for nesting residents and interesting migrants alike.
NCF is engaging in some trail restoration efforts to provide a buffer to these unique freshwater wetlands on our spit of sand. During your visit, please pay attention to the signage and avoid the sections of trail where we are letting nature reclaim the trail. Once the season kicks into gear, this bog fills with loads of mosquitoes and other insects, so get out and enjoy this beautiful part of our island before the bugs!