Sunday, March 27, 2011

A few Spring hikes

With the onset of daylight savings time, there's been daylight enough to hike after work in the evening. The trails are generally clear, and the ground is cold enough that there's little mud so far.
On a Sunday morning hike, we found this tree impressively destroyed by pileated woodpeckers. It was surrounded by wood shavings. It is on the Pigpen Path, just uphill from the main/Luscomb trail.
The gorge has calmed down with the drop-off in rain and snow melt, and Falulah Brook is running only slightly above average right now. We found ice clinging to some rocks where water occasionally laps up into cold air overnight.
There are confirmed reports of deer carcasses in the woods--hard to ignore when your dog comes out of the woods with a deer leg in his mouth--but unless you have a dog with you, you are not likely to find them. I haven't spotted one so far.

Friday, February 25, 2011

American bald eagle in Fitchburg 2/13

I'm not imagining things. I know my birds of prey. There was an American bald eagle soaring over the Nashua River between Fifth Street and Bemis Road mid-morning on Sunday the 13th.

Years ago when mountain biking at the Quabbin Reservoir with my brother, we were picking up speed on a downhill near a swamp when a gigantic bird slowly, and with great effort of his wings, rose to the sky, soon soaring hundreds of feet over us. That bird had about a 6 foot wingspan, and was a Golden Eagle.

Last summer I fished the Quabbin with my friend John, and we were lucky enough to be accompanied much of the day by an American Bald Eagle who sat in an evergreen tree 200 meters away.

Keep your eyes open at Flat Rock. You never know what you will see. Over the years I've seen a number of very large owls there, especially near sunset. While I've never seen hawks or eagles near Flat Rock, there's always a first time.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tracking bobcat

I've tracked animals off and on in Flat Rock over the past few years, often with my friend Ron. Snowshoe hare, deer, dog, coyote, mouse, and various bird tracks are common. I know Ron has seen moose tracks, and we've seen bear scat one time. I've studied up on bobcat tracks so I'd know when I found one....and a few weeks ago I did. I was ill-prepared that day, trudging through snow in boots when snowshoes might have helped a little, and I had no camera, so I had to resort to my phone's rudimentary camera. Regardless, I've run this photo by a few knowledgeable outdoorsmen, and can tell you, with 95% certainty, that this is a bobcat track. I'll save the 5% for a particularly large and lucky housecat that has strayed far from home and avoided becoming a coyote's meal.

I returned a couple of weeks later, and followed fox prints for a while, then moved on to some deer tracks that led to some deer beds. Mixed in among the deer tracks were (I think) some more bobcat tracks. I can't say for sure, because as I moved in my snowshoes to kneel down to look up close, I managed to kick snow onto the tracks.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Finally--the map

I could make a bunch of excuses, but regardless, I've finalized the current version of our Flat Rock trail map, and it's available for download. Just go here

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The glowing fungus

As I was leaving Flat Rock in the fading light a few weeks ago, I thought my eyes were tricking me as I saw a subtle glow downslope from the main trail. I was pretty sure that some sort of fungus, about the size of several footballs placed end to end, was the cause. Sure enough, I find this unique fungus today exactly where I saw the glow. I don't know the name for it yet, but will post it once I find out.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Circle W

Like a cattle brand, I notice that many trees along water company land have a new, spray-painted mark. It's a large red circle outline, about 15 inches in diameter, with a blue "W" spray painted inside. So far I've found these signs just north of the power lines along the Luscomb Path, and along the road that leads down to the gorge.

Hopefully this will be the lowest point of unexciting posts! They've got to look up from here.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Scott Road gets repairs

Long overdue, and I imagine very expensive, Scott Road got a makeover in the past week or so as it crosses the main path in Flat Rock, the Luscomb Path. In addition to literally tons of baseball to softball size river rock replacing a badly eroded roadbed, workers apparently also reworked some drainage on Scott Road just west of the Luscomb Path, and on the northwest side of the path.