Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A Hidden Gem Of A Nature Preserve

On Sunday morning I pulled my truck up along side the curb on Great Pond Road in Glastonbury. The wooden sign to my right read: Great Pond Nature Preserve. It is strange to see a nature preserve located in the midst of a modern exclusive neighborhood. We are talking about an area that has very large, perfectly aligned houses with emerald green lawns and automatic sprinkler systems. It almost felt as though I am trespassing just by being here.

As I began my walk, a Carolina Wren welcomed me with a loud song that reminded me of a soldier playing Reveille on a bugle. The first bird that I saw was a Black-capped Chickadee. It was close enough that I could feel the air from the force of its wings as it flew past my head. I could hear a tiny ringing sound coming from my right-kinglets or creepers?-I wondered. They both make a ringing sound. My question was quickly answered as two Brown Creepers were working their way up side of a tree. After they reached the top, they started back at the bottom and did it again.

There was a blanket of fog that covered a small field to my left. I could here the gentle song of an Eastern Bluebird somewhere in the field. I took a deep breath of the cool misty air before entering the wooded portion of this seventy acre preserve.

As I entered the forest, I found it to be both dark and quiet. The trees blocked out most of the light. I liked the way the trail was set up. On one side of the path, you are looking up the side of a steep hill and get an interesting look at the base of the trees. On the other side you are looking down a steep bank that allows you to get an advantageous view of the tree tops. At the bottom of the hill is a flat basin that must be somewhat swampy during the rainy season. The structure of the area seemed to block out the noise from the outside world. It was so quiet, I could actually hear the sound of leaves breaking off from trees and hitting the ground. Two Hermit Thrushes were perched on horizontal branches. They monitored my movements as I passed by. I could hear the sound of a Common Raven and American Crows in the distance.
Great Pond Preserve has a number of interesting features. There are a good number of Cedar trees growing here, including the reputed largest known Red Cedar in New England. There are also a lot of dead trees some of which are standing, and many others which have toppled over. This makes it a good area for many cavity nesting birds. There were lots of woodpeckers around, including one of my favorites, the Hairy Woodpecker.

I came across a very noisy mob of Black-capped Chickadees. They continuously made noise for six minutes. They were high up in the trees, so I never did figure out what all the fuss was about. I did notice that there was a Red-breasted Nuthatch, and Golden-crowned Kinglets in the same tree. I saw one male Golden-crowned kinglet that had such brilliant orange in its crown. It looked as though someone painted it on with phosphorescent paint.

There was one side trail that led me to a totally different habitat. It looked like an old farm field that had reverted to shrubs, overgrown weeds, and some modest sized deciduous trees. The entire area was filled with the chattering of hundreds of American Robins. Many were positioning themselves to get the best berry picking spots. A flock of one dozen Cedar Waxwings landed in the top of one vacant tree, but were almost immediately chased off by three aggressive robins. The only bird in the area that was able to rise above the noise level was a Northern Flicker that let out a loud piercing keew almost as if it was saying "shut up!" I had a nice view of seven bright red male House Finches in the top of a smaller tree. Other birds seen here include: Eastern Phoebe,Northern Cardinal, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Dark-eyed Juncos, Song Sparrows,Brown-headed Cowbirds,Eastern Bluebirds, Palm Warblers, and many White-throated Sparrows.
My last stop was Great Pond itself. This small glacially formed pond probably had a lower water level than normal due to the recent drought. I took some pictures of the birds I saw here. The ducks on the pond were too camouflaged by the vegetation and the shorebirds blended in with the background color of the shoreline. Besides the Mallards I saw here, I also saw at least a dozen or so Green-winged Teal. There were several Killdeer and Yellowlegs along portions of the shoreline. I actually took the time to go back and get my scope, thinking that there might be something mixed in that I couldn't identify with my binoculars. It turned out to be a waste of time, the scope didn't reveal anything new. On my way out, three Blue Jays played a game of tag with a Sharp-shinned Hawk. The birds took turns chasing each other from tree to tree.

I was really thrilled to explore this unique place. Its hard for me to imagine this entire area was slated for excavation and development. Fortunately, some people had the foresight to turn it into a nature preserve ( A man named William Reed being one of them). I'm looking forward to returning here in the future.
The preserve is located on Great pond Road which is directly off of Route 17 in Glastonbury. Park next to the guard rail, which is near the entrance sign.


RuthieJ said...

Wow Larry, that was one great birding spot! Water, woods and open wonder you got to see so many different birds.

P.S. There have been several RW Blackbirds hanging around my yard just this week. I haven't seen or heard any for a couple months and now they're back--on a southward migration, I suppose, but it sure is special to hear their song once more before winter.

Ruth said...

I am glad some people are working hard to make sure that all our green spaces are not paved over and "developed". What a great list of birds!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a pleasant day. I had a red-breasted nuthatch fly so close to me I could feel the wind from its wings. I actually ducked because it was flying straight at my head (I was between it an my sunflower feeder).

Those guys are impertinent and I like them more each day. They are impossible to photograph though. I think they all have ADHD. They don't even sit still at the suet feeder.

Mary C said...

Wow! I love your description, Larry. Sounds like a place I would enjoy living around. It is nice that more folks are thinking "conservation." Thanks for taking us along with you.

Larry said...

ruthiej-It's kind of nice when birds turn up that you haven't seen for a while.-The RWBB in my yard have been gone for about a month.

ruth-I second that.-I hope that I can help save a place like that one of these days.

dana-they are perky little fellows.-I love when small birds buzz by you.

Maryc-Glad you enjoyed it.It was unusual to see a place like this tucked right in with the houses.

Jayne said...

Sounds like a wonderful place Larry, and you spied such a great variety of birds! Glad this was preserved for people to enjoy.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that sounds like such an awesome place to go birding! Birding is pretty interesting this time of year.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful report and great list of birds you had their!

Larry said...

Jayne-I hope that the people preeserving land catch up to the ones who are destroying it.

Veery-Yes-it was a pretty good birding spot-more than that I liked it because it was new to me and it was nice scenery.

Monarch-Glad you liked the report-If a big list was my interest I could find better places, but that is usually secondary to the experience-for me.

Cathy said...

Awww . . . that's the sweetest picture of the little chickadee. The picture that peers into the woods is lovely.

My, you are doing some exploring in some very wonderful places.

Mary said...

Larry, what a wonderful place and I'm glad that someone encouraged a preserve for you and others to enjoy. Your list of birds in one outing exceeds my life list, I think :o) Go back there! I loved the way you described the sounds of excited birds in the trees above you. Wow.

Mary said...

I forgot to congratulate you on that Chickadee photo. They aren't easy. Bravo!

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this post. Looks like a great place. Thanks for sharing your walk.

Larry said...

Cathy-Regarding your comments on the photos-thank you.-Exploring new places is one of my favorite things to do.

Mary-thanks for the comments-So we're bulding a life list now are we?-Slowly but surely you're changing from birdwatcher to birder.