BUGS of the SHEPAUG RIVER

BUGS of the SHEPAUG RIVER

Born and raised a fisherman, the progression of my year is closely tied to insect hatches.  Trout is the quarry of choice and so I often find myself on the banks of the Shepaug River.  Keen eyes examine anything in flight, anything swimming, anything floating on the surface, and anything eddying through inside bends of […]

WILD HONEYBEES above the TUNNEL

WILD HONEYBEES above the TUNNEL

July 8, 2016 The buzz of bees catches my attention while on the trail above the Tunnel in Steep Rock.  I give a quick look around the ground to confirm I haven’t disturbed a yellow jacket nest.  Yellow jackets usually are aren’t a concern until late summer, but the dry, hot conditions through June have […]

WINTER divulges a PAPERY PRIZE 

Bald-faced hornet (Dolichovespula maculata) nest suspended above the Shepaug River

A few stubborn oaks still cling to brown leaves, but for the most part, trees are rid of foliage, giving forests a different look and feel.  Landscapes are more intimately studied, their layers and intersections well within view.  A low sun pierces empty crowns, illuminating hillsides and unveiling what remained hidden through livelier times.  Aerial […]

BUILDING BOARDWALK

BUILDING BOARDWALK

It all starts with a plan and permit when wetlands are concerned, but the latest stewardship project at Macricostas Preserve simply involved maintenance on a previously approved stretch of boardwalk through Meeker Swamp.  Several sections had deteriorated after a decade of great use and needed replacing.  The beat boards were white oak, a good choice […]

Calling Marsh Birds

Calling Marsh Birds – Beams of mist shine from the headlights as I turn into Macricostas Preserve’s parking lot.  Wheels lightly crunch over dirt and gravel until slowing to a stop.  Another vehicle is stationed at the trailhead and two Steep Rock Association (SRA) citizen scientists emerge. Convening and taking one last glug of coffee, […]

DISSECTING an OWL PELLET

owl-pellets-header

Steep Rock Association trustee, committee chair, and conservation easement landowner, Natalie Dyer, poked into the office this spring possessing some treasure.  “It’s an owl pellet!”, she exclaimed with wonder and excitement bubbling up as usual.  And a big one at that.  Looking down at a roughly 3 inch long and 2 inch wide mass of […]

SQUIGGLING AND SQUIRMING our way through SPRING

SQUIGGLING AND SQUIRMING our way through SPRING

It’s that time of year again when thrushes and warblers serenade forest dwellers, buds burst, and a rejuvenated environment even teases of summer with an occasional tree frog sounding off.  For Steep Rock Association, these cues trigger a certain stewardship action being the monitoring of our critically-important vernal pools. A balmy rain-soaked night has aroused […]

#64

bobcat-steep-rock

With snowshoes strapped, baggies at the ready, and GPS fixed, I head out into one of Steep Rock Association’s (SRA) preserves characterized as overgrown field rejoicing my career choices and the presence of such preserved land.  A cold-water stream runs through it.  Seeps percolate from tall grass and alder groves, wind past cedar trees, and […]

PURSUIT for PELLETS

Cottontail species hunkered down in a hollow tree

They’re not the easiest to obtain.  Stooping, crawling, and dipping through young forest, citizen scientists with Steep Rock Association (SRA) earned their cottontail scat (or pellets).  The native species, New England Cottontail (NEC), prefer this brambly habitat type over more open fields and meadows where the non-native eastern cottontail dominates.  Forest succession and interspecific competition […]

THE FUNGAL ARMS

THE FUNGAL ARMS

Essay and photos by Peary Stafford It’s January… and there’s precious little nature to study in Steep Rock.  Few birds, no insects and for sure no flowering plants.  But there’s always something and these desolate winter days, BK and I (OK, mostly I) have taken to investigating the fungal life of our beloved Land Trust. This particular […]