Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Limekiln Farm Wildlife Sanctuary, Sheffield, MA

Sunday, I participated in a guided hike lead by Rene Laubach, director of Mass Audubon's Berkshire Wildlife Sanctuaries. It was one of the Housatonic Heritage Walks.

Limekiln Farm Wildlife Sanctuary in Sheffield is a 250-acre former farm. A hundred years ago it was the site of a lime kiln that operated for about 3 years, turning the limestone (actually low-grade marble) quarried on the property into powdered lime for agricultural and other uses. It has been an Audubon property since 1990.

Rene points to Tamarack (American Larch) branches. Tamaracks have soft needles
about 1" long which all turn yellow in the fall and drop off making it a deciduous conifer.
The 40-foot-tall poured cement limekiln
where the rock was processed at 1400 degrees.
Several large fields are mowed late in the summer to provide habitat for ground-nesting birds,
butterflies and other wildlife. The open fields also offer great views!
The land form of the Red-spotted Newt (Red Eft), spends 1-3 years on land
and then changes to the olive green larger aquatic form and returns to the water.
On some moist days these efts are plentiful on the trails.
The trails wind through fields, forests and overgrown agricultural land.
A large glacial erratic on the Boulder Spur Trail. A glacial erratic is a boulder moved
by a retreating glacier and therefore different in composition from the bedrock on which it sits.
Rene speculated that perhaps this one came from nearby Mount Everett.

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