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This waterfall is part of the remains of an old stone mill. There are 40 acres of land preserved at this particular location but it is only a portion of 762 acres of protected land along Pine Brook. There is more information about the overall project in the 19th edition of the Middlesex Land Trust Newsletter (pdf). The area is surrounded by a steep hillside, mountain laurel, and moss covered rocks. What impresses me about this area is that it only takes a two minute walk down a trail to reach an area that feels totally secluded. It would be a perfect place for a writer or photographer to spend some time. In fact, I passed two older gentleman heading into the area with their photography equipment as I was leaving. (preserve is on Sexton Hill Road in East Hampton-dirt road off of 151-park in front of small preserve sign).
There weren't many birds around during my visit but one little chickadee told me that if I came back in the May he would show me where all the warblers were hiding. He made me promise not to take his picture in order to protect his identity. I'm looking forward to sitting next to the stream on a warm, sunny, morning surround by colorful Spring migrants but I'll have to wait a bit longer before that moment comes.
As the temperature dropped and the wind picked up, I decided to do some birding by car. I made a stop along the Connecticut River where I spotted two Bald Eagles. One was an immature eagle that had been sitting next to a skating pond while the other was an adult which was perched in a tree. It flew off a few seconds after I arrived.
I noticed that it appeared to be carrying a stick in its talons. That's one less that our town workers need to take care of. I wonder where it's bringing it?
I took a drive through the Penfield Hill Road area of Portland. I believe that this tiny building is actually an old school. There is still an old water pump and a double outhouse made of brick located behind the school. After some searching, I found the following excerpts of information in an old historical record of Middlesex County:
- October 5th 1830, upon petition of Penfield Hill School District, a committee was appointed "to designate a spot in s'd district to remove or build a school house that will enable them to receive the donation given to s'd Dis't by Mr. John STEWART deceased;" they established the site for said school house on the east side of the highway, between the dwelling house of Zebulon PENFIELD and the dwelling house of Daniel SHEPARD Esq. This was the present school house, a substantial and handsome brick building.
District No. 4, Penfield Hill. This fine brick school house was built in 1830, partly with funds left by John STEWART, in his will. An addition was built in 1840. Miss Fannie STEWART is teacher.
Harrison WHITCOMB taught several winters at Penfield Hill, between 1830 and 1840. He came from Vermont, and he is now a physician in Rutland.
I like reading old historical records and find the style of language they used back then to be interesting as well. Often times I find remnants of the past while searching for birds of the present.After my short visit to the school I came across a flock of turkeys in the woods and this Red-shouldered Hawks perched in a tree. From what I understand, Red-shouldered Hawks used to be rare in Connecticut during the winter. I've been seeing them fairly often this year, especially in the Haddam/East Haddam area. I found it interesting to learn that Red-shouldered hawks and Great-horned Owls are known for snatching nestlings from each other's nests.
I 'm certainly eager for the departure of winter and looking forward to the arrival of Spring. In the mean time, I will continue to wander down roads and trails enjoying small discoveries along the way.