Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Big 1-0-0

I had most of the afternoon to myself today. With New Years Eve tomorrow, and another snow storm on it's way tonight, I know tomorrow will probably be pretty busy. So I thought I'd take advantage of today by finding some quiet solitude. I needed a good place to just walk around, think about the past year, and the year coming. A good place for that, for me, is Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary, in Easthampton.

On the way up, as I crossed the Coolidge Bridge, I saw this small plane coming in for a landing, with a State Trooper helicopter following close behind.

Some VIP coming to town? Some terrorist alert? Or maybe they were just on the same flight path by coincidence? Thought it was kinda odd...

Arcadia is sponsored by the Audubon Society. There are a lot of easy trails to walk around, most developed with wildlife and plant watching in mind. Narrow paths through thickets, meadow-side trails, a marsh-side trail, and bird houses everywhere. There's a visitor center, with a deck over a vernal pool, out back.

There are also bird feeders around the visitor/learning center, attracting birds year round. Bird houses are set up all over for the migratory birds' return in the spring.

During the warm months it is indeed a wild life sanctuary. Of all the wildlife I've seen during my outings over the years, the most numerous and interesting have been here. Close encounters with beavers, snakes, one time a raccoon waddled about 5 feet ahead of me, as I walked along a trail. After about 50 feet, he turned into the woods. I've seen tanagers, warblers, bass, turtles, herons, and all sorts of water fowl. I'll often see them up close, but usually I'll need binoculars to get a good look.

One time, I saw a crow harassing a Red Tail hawk, swooping down on it over and over, cawing loudly. The hawk, perched, would turn and threatened to bite it each time. As the crow swept back up after each attack another, smaller bird (I couldn't tell what it was), would swoop down and harrass the crow! The 3 way dance went on for several minutes. Then the whole troop moved across a meadow, then into the woods, following the hawk each time it moved.

I brought this handy little instrument with me, that I just gotten for Christmas:

It's a bird-call device. You twist the wooden dowel, and it makes all kinds of squeaks and chirps. Does it work? I'm not sure. The first time I tried it, a few minutes later several titmice came and landed in the branches right overhead. They cocked their heads and stared, then flew off. Coincidence? I tried it again a few minutes later on a different part of the trail. This time chickadees came swooping in, landing close, then taking off. Same thing with a cardinal. It seems like it piques their curiosity, but the jury is still out on this thing.

As I took a relaxing walk around the place, I noticed the clouds were making strange patterns in the sky, as it was getting dark...

...More snowfall coming, to take us into the New Year.

Here's hoping it's a great New Year, for all!

No comments: