the nearly 600 acres of noanet woodlands is situated in dover. i don't think i've ever been to the town of dover before, but from my childhood interest in the strange and mysterious, i know it to be the home of the dover demon. that didn't stop me from getting on my motorcycle and riding down there for a bit of naturing. i wasn't alone: occasionally i'd meet other people hiking, mountain biking, or walking their dogs. the marked trails were very wide, with many smaller unmarked trails branching off into the woods. i didn't have a trail map other than the abbreviated hand-drawn one in my "nature walks in eastern massachusetts" book, and a digital photo of the map inside the bulletin board back at the entrance. i essentially followed the route suggested by the author, walking to the old mill site with its small waterfall and holding ponds, then to noanet peak, a rocky summit with a view of the surrounding green ocean of forest and the boston skyline off in the far distance. a beautiful day, i was the only person up there, and i lounged on the rocks for a little bit, enjoying the sun and the tranquility, before walking back to the parking lot. the recommended walk is 3.5 miles, but it took me nearly 4 hours to complete the loop.

i got some excellent naturing at noanet woodlands. walking along the trail i'd occasionally see quick flashes of iridescent green flying on the ground. if you weren't paying attention you'd probably think they were flies and thought nothing more of them, but you'd be wrong. they are in fact six-spotted tiger beetles (Cicindela sexguttata). so i spent a lot of time tracking these elusive beetles, crounched on my elbows and knees, trying to get close enough to take some photos before they fly or run away, saying "hello" to the baffled hikers who would occasionally walk by. later, on top of noanet peak, i found more tiger beetles, but these were a different species, black instead of green (they turned out to be Cicindela rufiventris, thanks to d.p.duran for the id).

tiger beetle

tiger beetle

tiger beetle

got some more dragonfly/damselfly photos. before i even arrived at noanet woodlands, i parked the bike along the side of the road near the charles river peninsula (between needham and dover), and saw many pondhawks, skimmers, and forktails. later, near the abandoned mill, i got photos of whitetails. it's the first time i was able to identify the females, but i didn't get any good photos. further down the hill, near the small stream created by the waterfall, i found jewelwings.

pondhawk (m)

slaty skimmer (m)

fragile forktail

whitetail (m)

whitetail (f)

ebony jewelwing (m)

i finally found some snakes, which thrilled me and repulsed me at the same time. i'm not afraid of little snakes anymore, although their slithering action still seems kind of creepy. here at noanet woodlands i saw the big snakes, the kind that freezes me in my tracks. while standing on a rock wall by the waterfall taking photos of whitetail dragonflies, i heard something drop down below. without even thinking, i guessed it might've been a snake, and when i looked over the edge, sure enough, a large garter snake could be seen in the grass. i walked across the rocks but i must've made too much noise because the snake suddenly slithered away in less than second. from where i stood i looked across to the other end of the wall, and was horrified to see another snake, larger than the first, coiled in a circle. i slowly walked over along the top of the wall, looking down at a mature water snake. i was worried that i'd fall off the wall, because not only would i land in a snake pit, but it was also covered with poison ivy. later, when i walked down to the stream, i saw a small (diameter of a pencil) water snake slither off of the path when it felt the vibration of my footsteps, and a 4th snake running away as well (i didn't get a good look at it, it was black though). there were some kids playing by the mill, and i thought about telling them about the water snake, but after seeing them splashing rocks into the holding ponds, i figured it might not be a good idea.

garter snake

coiled water snake

small water snake

here are some images from noanet woodlands. walking back to the parking lot, i foraged for some blueberries as a snack. my gps kept on turning itself off (aftermath of the cracked screen), but it worked long enough for me to add a few new waypoints and to tell me that i was going in the right direction when i headed for the exit.

willow st.

willow st.
charles river



waterfall stream downhill

holding pond

noanet peak

boston view


in the evening, peter gave me to a ride to renata's place in JP. she made dinner for us and we ate out on the backyard deck. prostitution seemed to be the topic du jour, as renata delighted in my retelling of the "playing connect four with a thai prostitute" story, and peter told us about having dinner with friends in a vietnamese brothel in saigon. after dinner we had strawberries (with nutella) for dessert, then drank hot tea underneath a canopy of summer stars and flashing lightning bugs. later renata showed us a photo slideshow from a friend of her's who spent 4 months in africa. when the presentation was over, peter and i returned to cambridge.