Thursday, May 29, 2014

AT Near Finerty Pond, Washington

Monday, Memorial Day, three of us walked on the Appalachian Trail from Pittsfield Road, Washington, south to Rte 20 in Lee, a good nine miles. The spring wildflowers were magnificent. We met several thru-hikers and some section hikers who had spent the night at Upper Goose Pond cabin. They each remarked on what delicious pancakes they had for breakfast!

The cabin has volunteer caretakers who serve weekly from May through October. Part of the job is to cook pancakes for the guests. Some have been doing it for decades and really enjoy meeting hikers from all over the country, and the world.

This clump of Pink Lady's Slippers had seven blossoms. Wow!
Painted Trillium.

AT—East Mountain, Great Barrington

It was a sunny breezy day last Tuesday and not many bugs yet, or they were kept away by the wind. The leaves were still small enough that sunshine covered the trail. A beautiful day for a great hike on the AppalachianTrail!

New rock steps up the steep hillside to the lookout. 
At the rocky outcropping looking west. Mount Everett is the hump on the left.
These young lady's slippers will soon turn pink.
One of my favorite spots—the tent platform at the Tom Lenard Shelter.
The sun can still get through the emerging leaves, but not for long!
After hatching, the eastern tent caterpillar spends 7 to 8 weeks in the silk "tent" ,
leaving it to feed on young leaves and returning to digest and stay warm.
Then each caterpillar moves the the ground, spins a cocoon
and in a few weeks emerges as an adult moth. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Cleanup at Housatonic Flats, Great Barrington

Last week the Tuesday Berkshire Hikers, along with Michael Leavitt and Doug Bruce of the Berkshire Natural Resources Council, pulled barbed wire from the fence line at the Housatonic Flats in Great Barrington, a BNRC property along the Housatonic River. Although BNRC has removed more than 5 tons of solid waste, the barbed wire from many decades of fencing still needs to be pulled out. We made a good start on the task.

This will be a wonderful property when it is completed. Although small, only 26 acres, it includes a half mile bend of river frontage, flood-plain forest and meadows, wetlands with beaver activity and wide mowed paths. Among other things, it's a great place for birding.

It was a great morning of work and gave us a good feeling of accomplishment.
On top of that, it was fun!
Leather gloves protected our hands from the sharp wire.
One of several trash barrels of barbed wire
we cut, pulled, coiled and stuffed in trash cans for removal.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Appalachian Trail, Sheffield

Last week, we walked the mostly flat section of the AT from Jug End Road to the Housatonic River. I love this section for the variety of habitats and the boardwalks and bog bridges through the wetlands. We found spring growth progressing quickly with flowers and buds everywhere. This is always an exciting time with new flowers and changes every day.

Several well-built bridges and lots of boardwalk protect the wetlands.
Diane & Bob identify a bird with an app on Bob's smart phone.
Helpful technology in the wild!
Different varieties of ferns have very different fiddleheads.
On the left is Christmas fern and on the right is Ostrich fern.

Trout Lily, or as my mother called it, Dog-toothed Violet,
although it is a member of the Lily family.
We had lunch in a beautiful field with a great view of Mount Everett.
We got back to the cars before the rain.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Animal Tracks at Bartholomew's Cobble

Two weeks ago, at Bartholomew's Cobble in Sheffield, we saw the best tracks in mud I've ever seen, along the Housatonic River. The river had flooded and receded leaving behind silt and mud dried to the perfect consistency for tracks. I got them identified by Rene Wendell, Conservation Ranger and amazing naturalist at Bartholomew's Cobble.

These Rene thinks are otter. I couldn't get closer
because I didn't want to spoil the tracks (or my shoes in the mud)!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Heron Rookery at the Myrin Preserve, Great Barrington

Tuesday we visited the Myrin Preserve to see the heron rookery and walk the trails. The preserve is along the Muddy River on Monument Valley Road. Access is on foot, down the continuation of Blue Hill Road. The river in this swampy valley floor has been impacted by beaver activity. Many trees have died because the beaver-created water impoundment covered their roots. Voila! A perfect place for heron nests!

Besides great blue herons, we saw Canada geese, several different ducks and warblers, an osprey (I think) and lots of swallows skimming the water. A sign requested visitors to be quiet so as not to disturb the nesting herons and other wildlife. A good rule to follow.

Here is one small section of beaver dam. In the background,
  you can see three piles of sticks in the tops of the snags
 outlined against the sky. There are at least 6 occupied nests.
Five nests high above the water are visible in the tops of the dead trees.
Photo by Marina Wilber.
We watched the activity from another viewing spot.
Although most of the herons were quietly sitting on the nest,
we observed several flying around in their slow and graceful way.
Photo by Marina Wilber.
The trails are wide and flat. Photo by Marina Wilber.
Wow! What a lot of fresh wood chips and shavings.
When I see this in the woods, I always look up the nearby tree trunk.
Yep, lots of new holes made by a pileated woodpecker.