The large amount of contiguous undeveloped area at this location coupled with the various community types (forested vs. open, upland vs. wetland, etc…) creates conditions for a multitude of various animal species. Hale Reservation not only provides habitat for animals that prefer early succession species through its fields/meadows/orchard, but also for interior forest species that rely on a large buffer from disturbances associated with edge environments.
Red and gray squirrels, eastern chipmunk, white-tailed deer, and coyote are among the mammalian species observed more frequently at Hale Reservation. White-tailed deer are prevalent on the property, based upon common sightings as well as the prevalence of numerous deer trails and scat. It does not appear, however, that the deer population is negatively impacting the forest structure, although it is difficult to determine due to the normally sparse understory associated with xeric forests such as that present at Hale.
Various sightings during the past few years indicate that fisher and otter are also present on the property. Other common mammals such as striped skunk, Virginia opossum, raccoon, masked shrew, weasel, mink, red and grey fox, eastern cottontail, and flying squirrel inhabit Hale Reservation. Additionally, there is speculation that bobcat may be present on the property, given the large undeveloped areas and likely abundant prey supply and potential for den locations in rock crevices associated with the many ledge outcroppings present at the Reservation.
Close to 200 avian species have been observed at Hale Reservation within the last 20 years. During the Beals & Thomas study, 49 bird species were noted. Several of these, including the Scarlet Tanager, represent interior species that rely on large tracts of undisturbed forest to breed. Due to the presence of open mown areas, meadows, fields, and the orchard, species that prefer edge/early succession environments, such as Indigo Bunting, are also present. Similarly, tree swallow, northern oriole, and eastern kingbird, all of which prefer agricultural landscapes, were also recorded on the property in the vicinity of the Cuchiarra Learning Center. In addition to such beneficial edge/early succession species, birds such as Brown-Headed Cowbird, Blue Jay, and American Crow also inhabit Hale, however. The first two birds are nest predators, and all thrive in open/disturbed environments.
Non-indigenous birds recently observed include European Starling and House Finch. Whereas the first two species are problematic due to their life history, the House Finch does not represent a threat to native species since it does not compete for food and shelter. As previously indicated, Brown-Headed Cowbirds lay their eggs in the nests of other species. The victims preferentially raise the Cowbird nestlings due to their larger size, and the native nestlings suffer. Although European Starlings do not directly impact native birds like the Cowbird, they do compete with native birds for food and nesting cavities.
Reptiles and Amphibians
Hale Reservation provides excellent habitat for amphibians and reptiles due to the matrix of wetlands and uplands, open and forested areas, and abundant ledge outcroppings. Prevelent on the property are wood frogs, spotted salamanders, spring peepers, green frogs, bullfrogs, American toads, and red back salamanders. Red-spotted newts have also been observed within Storrow Pond and the down-gradient stream.
Painted turtles are common basking on rocks in all the ponds, as well as within some of the larger vernal pools on the property. Spotted turtles are known to be present on the southeastern part of the property.
Garter snakes and northern water snakes are commonly seen at Hale Reservation. In addition there have been unconfirmed sightings of gray tree frogs, spotted turtles, black racers, and even one rattlesnake. The latter sighting is unconfirmed, however it would not be surprising to find that timber rattlesnakes do inhabit the property, given the appropriate habitat available and the Reservation’s proximity to other places where the snakes are known to occur (Blue Hills in Quincy, Milton, Dedham, and Randolph and Rattlesnake Hill in Sharon).
Other herpetofauna likely to occur (based upon habitat and/or occurrence at nearby properties) include milksnake, wood turtle, box turtle, snapping turtle, and musk turtle, as well as four-toed salamander, blue spotted salamander, and marble salamander. If present at Hale, four-toed salamanders would most likely be found within the wetlands that have a presence of sphagnum moss hummocks.
Fish populations in the ponds have been documented over the years through anecdotal reports, the Beals & Thomas report and the work of Aquatic Control Technologies. Beside the populations listed in the following ponds, it is likely that stream outflows contain specimens of the resident pond species.
All three ponds, Noanet, Powissett and Storrow, have largemouth bass, pumpkinseed sunfish, bluegill sunfish, chain pickerel, brown bullhead, yellow perch and golden shiner. Storrow Pond is stocked with trout through the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife stocking program. The pond has little suitable habitat for trout “holdover” from year to year, thus there is probably little reproduction occurring in the pond. The American eel has also been spotted in Storrow Pond.
A comprehensive survey of invertebrates at Hale has not been undertaken, however it is apparent from the present work that the property is home to a great variety of invertebrates, including lepidoptera, odonates, beetles, hymenoptera, and arachnids, as well as aquatic species such as crayfish, fairy shrimp, and fingernail clams.