Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fall Color & Birds From CT Traprock Ridge

Northern New Englanders sometimes refer to those of us living in Connecticut as flatlanders. We may not be known our mountainous landscape but what we do have in Connecticut are traprock ridges. They were created by continental rifting and the welling up of lava flows 200 million years ago. The highest traprock peak in Connecticut is just over 1,000 feet but the views from the top of the ridge are so wide open it can feel as though you are at a higher elevation. The first two photos were taken along the Metacomet Trail in the Southington/New Britain area.
I parked at a trail entrance located on Andrews Street in Southington. This turned out to be a costly mistake. When I returned to my truck after a short hike, I found a $30 dollar parking ticket on my windshield. It was issued by the water department from the town of New Britain who apparently own the surrounding land. There were no signs visible near the trail entrance stating that parking was not allowed. Instead of arguing my case, I decided to send out some e-mails to see if a no parking sign could be put up in the area. I'm hoping that I might be able to help prevent someone else from getting a ticket for parking there. If I had read this post from the Connecticut Museum Quest website, I could have avoided getting a ticket altogether.
When you're hiking in an unfamiliar area, it's best to familiarize yourself with the hiking trails in the area before you get there. A great site for information about hiking trails in Connecticut is the Connecticut Explorers website:
My original intention was to visit a portion of the traprock ridge that I had never seen before called Ragged Mountain. I headed over to the trail on West lane in Kensington where there is approved parking. From the entrance you take the main trail and then veer left onto the blue & red trail which will take you right up to Ragged Mountain. There was a memorial at the top in memory of Darin Findley, who died during a climb here in 2003. The hike to get to the top of the ridge was a little longer than some of the other trails that I'm familiar with but it was worth the effort. On my way up I saw deer, Belted Kingfisher, Wild Turkeys, and 2 Pileated Woodpeckers having a squabble with a Sharp-shinned Hawk (the hawk left first). There were numerous kinglets in the area with the vast majority of them being Golden-crowned Kinglets.
I also saw numerous Yellow-rumped Warblers that were feasting on cedar berries.
The next day I visited another portion of the traprock ridge in located along the Mattabesset Trail. This photo is showing the deeper end of Black Pond which is located along the Middlefield/Meriden border.
The species of birds that I saw on this portion of the ridge were very similar to the ones I saw in Southington. Here is a Red-tailed Hawk surveying the scene and watching the man laying on the rocks trying to take pictures of him.
The high ridges are a good place to get a close view of vultures and other birds of prey in flight. I had to back off on the zoom to get these flight photos to come in focus so I used 10x instead of the full 18x. The sun was shining brightly on the Turkey Vulture when I took this photo. I thought the lighting effect from the camera was strange but interesting.
Along the trail I passed Powder Ridge Ski resort which closed down years ago. In 1970 a music festival similar to the one in Woodstock was supposed to take place at Powder Ridge. I found a detailed account of the event which includes photos of the concertgoers and a concert poster listing the original lineup of performers. It included big name acts like Van Morrison, Fleetwood Mac and Janis Joplin. The event started to fall apart over legal issues. The only originally scheduled singer to perform was Melanie , who was best known for her song "Look what they've done to my song-ma." She avoided legal trouble by agreeing to perform for free. Another species that I saw a lot of during my hike was the Hermit Thrush. I counted six of them during my hike along these trails.-
click to play
There were two Osprey at Black Pond. I attempted to capture them in flight but barely managed to keep up with them.
So, if you live in Connecticut or you are here for a visit , be sure to explore the traprock ridges. It's hard to beat the scenery, especially in the Fall . If not, I guess you'll just have to take my word for it.


Hilke Breder said...

Interesting geology, Larry. Remember looking at the ridges on my drive from Springfield to New Haven years ago, and wondering in particular about the one in New Haven. Love your bird shots, particularly the eerie pic of the TV! You caught the light at just the right moment.

Dan Huber said...

Great post and photos Larry. I really love the shot of the turkey vulture.

Larry said...

The ridge in new haven was formed differently than the rest of the ridges in Connecticut.It was a volcanic dike through which basalt lava found its way to the surface-(according to wikepedia).

Jen Sanford said...

I agree that the vulture shot is awesome! Not to mention all the great scenery!!

Larry said...

Jen-thanks-I have to thank the vulture too for being cooperative.

Lana Gramlich said...

WONDERFUL shot of the vulture! Thanks for the info on the lava flows & such, too--very informative!

Chris said...

Wonderful post once again Larry and I love the vulture shot and the video was cool. Do you know that we have some Yellow-rumped Warblers around? yeh yeh we do, they lost their way around here! Incredible, but I did not see them yet!

Larry said...

Lana-thanks-fortunately there were no lava flows during my hike.

Chris-thanks-hope you get a look at that yellow-rump.They are usually fairly tolerant of people getting near them.

troutbirder said...

Hiking thru beautiful country and birding along the way. It doesn't get any better than that!

Dawn Fine said...

Howdee Larry,
Looks like a beautiful area. We just hiked Lantern hill in Ledyard/stonington. Have you every hiked there? I will post in a day or so.
I liked the first i thought they were shadows on the pond..then i realized you were looking down on

Larry said...

troutbirder-If it got much better than that-I don't know if I could handle it.

dawn-Never have but I'll be curious because there was a spot in Ledyard I wanted to try-Rose Hill WMA I think.-So I'll be checking on that post.

Kathie Brown said...

Larry, what an excellent post. You are always so informative and give links to all the information one might need. So sorry about that ticket! It sounds like they don't post there on purpose so that they can ticket people! Amazing views from the top. I sure am enjoying this magnificent fall foliage! Thanks for your visit to my blog!

Larry said...

Kathiebirds-Thanks-Id do try to give the links when I'm not too lazy or in a rush.I'm over the ticket thing but it did ruffle my feathers a bit so to speak.