Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Lime Kiln Farm Wildlife Sancturary, Sheffield

Last Tuesday we used our snowshoes at Lime Kiln Farm Wildlife Sanctuary in Sheffield. We saw lots of signs that wildlife had been out and about—tracks, scat, signs of feeding and, surprisingly, a mostly-eaten carcass.

We speculated upon what animal it could be, perhaps a fox, a fisher, a coyote, but did not think any of those were right. So we asked the experts, Doug Bruce at Berkshire Natural Resources Council, who forwarded the photo to others and, in the end, decided it was a raccoon. Mary Holland concurred. Interesting that we did not think of a raccoon, probably because its fur is so distinctive that we didn't know the other characteristics such as teeth and feet. Anyway, it was clear that a drama had taken place the night before (or a few days ago) with many tracks and indentations in the snow.

Here's the carcass we found on the trail.
We saw lots of rabbit tracks in the bushes on the edges of the fields.
There's a nice view of Mount Everett.
Among the mostly young trees,
we found this huge old oak.

Here's a hole through the snow to the ground and remains of hickory nut shells below it. A squirrel (I'm guessing) was looking for food. We saw many holes and not all of them had shells around them but many did. How did it know where to dig? 

Turkey tracks.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Hollow Fields Preserve, Richmond

Hollow Fields Preserve, newly opened in 2013, is a 139-acre Berkshire Natural Resources property. It is mostly open fields with lovely views of the entire Yokun Ridge from Bousquet Mountain south to West Stockbridge. Last Tuesday we walked the trails and enjoyed the views.

It was my first time visiting and I was blown away by the openness, the fields and the sky. The clouds that day were magnificent. This reserve is a gem. While not a long walk, the trails are about 2 miles, there are some other woods roads worth exploring. Of course, we stayed off the trails marked "private." I feel it is important to respect private land and I appreciate the amazing generosity of Ron and Judith Shaw who donated the property.

We used snow shoes or traction devices on our boots for easy walking. 
The clouds were breathtaking!
For me, this walk was a great mood elevator.
Here at the highest field is a clear view of all of Yokun Ridge and more.
Here's a view across the fields to Green Meads Farm, 
Take time to admire the clouds. 
At one of the middle fields we stopped for a group photo.