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The Water is Low – Gate 35

One of the most interesting pieces of media created about the Quabbin Reservoir was the video Under the Quabbin producted at WBGY in Springfield.  It tells the story of an dive team lead by U. Mass Biologist Ed Klekowski that explored the biology and human artifacts clearly visible under the Quabbin, even today. As everyone in New England knows, it’s been a dry summer.  We’ve been going to the Reservoir for three years now and we’ve never seen the water level quite so low.  If this keeps up, you may not need to be part of a dive team to see what’s “under the Quabbin.”  Here at Gate 35 is what remains of the old New Salem depot on the Rabbit Railroad.  (Click on each picture for a better view.)

The Quabbin shore typically ends at the rock line, but now we’ve got sandy and, in places, marsh like beaches.

Not so obvious is the fact that the newly revealed shoreline has it’s own ecosystem properties.  In amongst that grass and mud, we found one of the richest varieties of tracks to date.  Otters:

Grouse and Deer:

And we have no clue as to what kind of critter made this track.  We have put some effort into researching this apparent three toed animal.  We don’t think this is a new kind of human sneaker, but we could be wrong.  If you have any ideas, please let us know.  (It’s not a heron or a turkey, which would be good guesses, but leave tracks that look more like the grouse track.)

Alas, we did not see any of these animals.  We did see and hear loon in the distance, but not close enough for decent photography.  And I did continue my unbroken record of face to face confrontations with a bald eagle when my camera was equipped with a wide angle lens and locked down securely on a tripod. I’m sure the eagle was interested in this renovated ecosystem as well.  However, the driftwood along the shoreline is always of interest, now clearly more visible.

I don’t think that we’ll be seeing the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority hit the panic button quite yet, especially since there’s rain on the way.  But the declining water levels are certainly impressive.  Sadly, another hiker passing by told us that he had seen three dead beavers at Gate 43, obviously unable to survive because the water in their habitat area was so low.  Here are two panoramas from the shoreline.  The first, looking north.

This panorama was taken from near the train station foundation ruins, looking southwest.

You can get a better look at the second panorama on gigapan.  Here’s the link.  Let’s have some rain!

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Though there has been lots of talk regarding droughts and dry periods in the west and southeast, people here in New England often forget it can happen to use as well. You images tell a great story both about the low water and its impacts but also brings out the fact that new areas are exposed for wildlife and plants to make use of …

    September 28, 2010
  2. jameshuntphotography #

    Glad you found these useful Jan and thanks for visiting the site. Yes, we’re just as vulnerable to drought as any area, and with a changing and more volatile climate, we shouldn’t take anything for granted.

    September 28, 2010

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