Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A Little Piece Of "God's Country" In Connecticut

Over the years I've been on numerous fishing trips in the most remote regions of northern Maine and New Hampshire. During each trip there is a point where buildings, people, and stores seem to disappear. We find ourselves suddenly surrounded by mountains, woods, huge green fields filled with wildflowers, lakes, and clear flowing rivers. The air is noticeably cooler and cleaner. The feeling I get when entering these areas can be so overwhelming that it's difficult to put into words. My father has always referred to these areas as "God's Country". I never had to ask for an explanation of this term. When you are there, you just know it. No explanation is needed.

There are many scenic areas in the state of Connecticut. None of them can compete with the Great North Woods, but once in a while I feel as though I've found a little piece of "God's Country". That is what I was hoping to find this weekend. I hiked through wooded trails in several areas. The above photo is of a little stream called Bible Rock Brook located in Haddam. It runs along Route 81. As I was sitting on a rock in the middle of the brook , I saw several trout darting through the water.


click play to watch and listen

This video was taken in a portion of the brook called Seven Falls. There are many miles of hiking trails surrounding it. Although it is close to the road, all you can hear is the soothing sound of rushing water when you're near it.

On Fridays there is a column in the Hartford Courant that I like to read called "Nature's Path" by Peter Marteka. He recently wrote about a preserve called "The King Property" which borders Lake Beseck in Middlefield. I decided this would be a nice place to go for a hike.
I'm not that familiar with the area surrounding Lake Beseck. I do remember there used to be a tavern near the lake called "Bucket Of Blood". If that name isn't asking for trouble, I don't know what is. The preserve is located on the south end of Mattabeseck Road next to the lake. As it turns out, I parked on the wrong end of the road. Instead of hiking on The King Property, I ended up hiking on the Blue Trail . I didn't have any complaints about that though. The views of Black Pond and the surrounding traprock ridge were stunning!
I was so impressed with the scenery, I almost forgot about the birds this weekend-but not quite. I decided not to take any bird photos unless they posed right in front of me. After all, there will soon be droves of migrant warblers and other birds heading our way. I might as well take a little breather from birding now while I still have the chance.

That's not to say that I didn't enjoy the birds that I did see. Looking down at Black Pond I had distant views of eight Great Blue Herons on the opposite shore, as well as three Double-crested Cormorants. I enjoyed watching several Golden-crowned Kinglets as they moved from tree to tree searching for food. I watched as three Hermit Thrushes followed each other through the woods. I got the impression that one of them would soon be packing his bags. I spooked a couple of Wood Ducks from a swampy puddle that I passed along the entrance trail. I enjoyed seeing a Hairy Woodpecker doing what they do best-pecking wood. There were many other birds to see as well, but my favorite bird sightings of this weekend took place in Durham and Portland.
This bird is a Yellowlegs. Unless I see them side by side it is difficult for me to tell whether it is a lesser or greater. This one seems to have a very long bill which might be slightly upturned. It was also very active in chasing down food at the fairgrounds. Because of those two clues, I'm going to call this one a Greater Yellowlegs. Lesser Yellowlegs have a smaller bill and are a little bit more laid back with their feeding habits.

I stopped by the Brookfield Game Club Pond on Route 68 in Durham and was pleased to find two male Northern Shovelers. I saw my first two ever Northern Shovelers just about a week ago. It goes along with my theory that once you see a species the first time, they're a lot easier to find again. There was plenty of other ducks in the pond, including Green-winged Teal, Ring-necked Ducks, Bufflehead and what was probably a Common Goldeneye but the little bugger kept hiding around the corner.


click to play

Also on Route 68 is a skating pond. This is where I saw my first Great Egret of the year. Traffic didn't seem to bother it as it searched for food along the edge. I took several pictures of it but I'm afraid you would have a case of snow blindness if you saw them. The video seemed to work out a little bit better. Listen for the Belted Kingfisher in the background.

What does the term "God's Country" mean to you?


Carole said...

God's country is everywhere! I used to think when I lived in KY that the visions I would see at sunrise and sunset were God's country but now that I live in FL for 10 years I believe this is God's country.

So God's is everywhere!

Lynne said...

Funny, but I only ever think of "God's Country" when I'm away from people.

Your pictures are great and your video was a perfect escape for me too!

Larry said...

Carole-I imagine each person may have a different interpretation of the phrase and of their perception of what surrounds them.

Larry said...

Lynne-Lack of people is definitely a key factor.-The few people that we see or come across seem to be living the simple life though.

PA-Birder said...

Thank you for sharing about such wonderful places. I'm glad to know that one can even find "God's Country" in Conn. I would agree with you on the Greater Yellowlegs I.D. based on the relative length of the bill compared to the head and the fact that there appears to be a slight upturn in it,

Aunt "B's" Backyard said...

Wow, that is one section of God's Country. And a beautiful one it is! And I have to agree, God's Country is in the eye of the beholder!

Beth said...

I think God's Country is anywhere that you can stop, breathe deeply and sense nature around you--I think I live in God's country in the wilds of Maine, but I believe that it is anywhere that people take the time to realize it.

Larry said...

Pa-birder-I think that you can get used to your own surroundings.When you travel to a place filled with natural beauty it seems to evoke a more dramatic response.

aunt "b"-Yes-you can find beauty wherever you go.-

Beth-I know that area of Maine-and it definitely fits my definition.-Maybe you notice it more when you visit than when you live there?

Patrice said...

Larry, that was beautiful. I could almost smell the fresh air and feel the sense of peace. I like to think of "God's Country" as a state of mind as much as a physical location. It's that sense of tranquility you find when you are in the great outdoors--as part of the natural world. By the way, please stop back and visit my blog again. I posted something with you in mind, and don't tell me you aren't a good enough writer. I don't buy it.

Your devoted friend,

RuthieJ said...

Hi Larry,
I heard the kingfisher right at the end of your video and the song sparrow throughout most of it. So much traffic! Glad the birds didn't seem too disturbed by that.

God's Country is Lacrosse, Wisconsin. Years ago the G. Heileman Brewing Company (you remember Old Style beer?) used to have an ad campaign saying their beer was brewed in God's Country and I still think of that. Your God's Country pictures are beautiful--especially without the breweries!

Ruth said...

It is nice to enjoy more than birds when outdoors, especially in beautiful places like these. The local names are so interesting. Last evening I watched a pair of muskrats fixing up their home. Spring brings activity from all sorts of creatures. God's Country is not dominated by man.

Lana Gramlich said...

Very lovely. Makes me miss all of Canada's natural beauty. Although there's a lot where I currently live, too, being in a swamp means there are no raised views, no hillocks to climb, no cliffs or escarpments, nothing but flat, wet ground.
Being an antitheist, I'll pass on the term "god's country."

Larry said...

Patrice-Glad you liked it.-I'll go along with that but in order to use the term you have to be at a given location at the time.I will stop by your blog again but I'm not very good at writing assignments.-Thanks for keeping me in mind though.

ruthiej-Thanks for the different take on God's Country.It's nice to look back on things in a nostalgic way.

ruth-"God's Country is not dominated by man".-I like that-These sound like words of wisdom.

Larry said...

lana-I wouldn't mind you expressing your views in a comment but you might draw some heat from others.-I have a post in mind for the future that you may find provocative.

Sandpiper said...

Fantastic post! I know what you mean about northern New England, too. It's just a different feeling there.

Only the Seven Falls is familiar, but I don't think I've hiked there. I haven't explored the Lake Beseck area. Just driven around that area. Part of the Blue Trail system is where I live, too. You should try exploring the Northwest corner sometime. It's really beautiful here with hills and lots of forested areas, trails, and fresh water marshes. It's especially pretty in the autumn here. I enjoyed your pictures and the videos. Glad you left the pictures large so I could get a good look!

Larry said...

Sandpiper-Yes-I have been out to the western part of CT on occasion.It does seem tto have some of the most interesting natural land areas.-it reminds me of what I find up north with the smamps and all.-I camped at Macedonia Brook before-that was really nice.-I had my first view of a male Scarlett Tanager there. It landed on a branch only a few feet from my tent and stayed there for several minutes!

Stacey Huston said...

You have some beautiful country up there.. Isn't it amazing that if people just look they can find "God's country" almost anyplace... I love your array of different birds. Thanks for sharing

Sandpiper said...

Larry, that sounds great! Kent is a beautiful area. You might want to check out White Memorial in Litchfield, too. They have 4000 acres with a gazillion trails and a lot of ponds and waterways. It's not quite as much of a drive. If you kayak, there is a place to put in, too. I've seen wading birds, hawks, eagles, osprey, deer, etc. I heard a bear once, but I was alone that day, so I scooted out of there, but talked to people the next day who had taken pictures of it with their cell phone.

Mary C said...

Hi Larry - I loved all your photos and enjoyed your post, especially the video of the great egret. It reminded me of where I like to go to watch great egrets, snowy egrets, Canada geese, great blue herons, etc. It is also situated by a busy freeway, and you can see and hear the traffic, but the birds don't seem to mind. I thought your video was amusing, too, because we not only got to see the egret's reflection, but we could also see the reflection of the cars going by. God's country, to me, is anywhere away from the hustle and bustle of civilization. And you can find that in cities, too, usually in a park setting -- certainly in and around nature.

Cathy said...

Really, Larry - I had no idea Connecticut had places as wild-seeming as beautiful seven falls. Wow.

Wonderful videos.

I had to laugh at the notion of your pixes causing snow blindness. You must have had some good sunshine. Lucky you. We've had danged little and YES - I am complaining:0)

Larry said...

Larry said...
stacey-Thanks-There are beautiful places,-even in CT.-Many of the preserved areas tend to be small though-with a few exceptions.

Sandpiper-I have been to the White Memorial Foundation Nature center and had a picnic on the grounds.I also saw a young Great-horned Owl there.-I haven't walked the trails or birded there though.-I see so many reports of what's there on the listserver that it actually ruins the suspense for me a little.-I definitely plan on taking a couple of trips there this year though.-Probably during vacation time because it probably takes an hour and a half to get there from my house.

Mary c-It's interesting how birds aren't afraid of traffic but they are so afraid of us.

Cathy-I wouldn't say that Connecticut has a lot of wild places.-If I want to be surrounded by vast expanses of wild areas,I go to norther Maine. Their are some nice places in CT if you take the time to look.-Seven Falls does have some nice trails but the stream in the video/photo is only 20 feet from the road.-You wouldn't know it if you were sitting by the book though.-The stream drowns out the sound of any passing cars.

Larry D said...

I enjoyed your post Larry, great videos. Gods Country to me? I can think of many places, its anywhere that you feel that connection to something bigger than yourself. The Rocky Mountains, The Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Northern Minnesota, The Flint Hills in Spring here in Kansas and sometimes just the pastures behind my home at dawn.

mon@rch said...

This is a wonderful country for sure and you seem to find every additional beauties that can be found! Thanks for sharing !

Larry said...

Larry d-"its anywhere that you feel that connection to something bigger than yourself"-I like that description-well put.-

Monarch-I don't know if I find them but I sure am trying!

Jayne said...

Another great day of birding for your Larry. God's Country to me means the unspoiled, raw beauty we see in areas that have gone untouched by human habitation.

Larry said...

jayne-Tha's a good definition.It's tough to find areas like that.

Kathiesbirds said...

Larry, I laughed when I saw the goose butt up in the air in your egret video! Always so cute, aren't they! Next time I'm in CT I'll have to check some of these places out. You are alerting me to places I didn't even know were there! Nice post! God's country? I agree it is anywhere unspoiled by man where you can feel close to God and nature, where your spirit is uplifted and you feel at peace.