Have you seen a Bobcat in your neighborhood? They have been spotted at some of the Land Trust’s preserves! Join us for an online presentation to learn more about their natural history in our state including habitat, diet, reproduction, current research efforts, and how they differ from Mountain Lions. There will be time for your questions, too.
Our presenter will be Paul Colburn, a State-certified Master Wildlife Conservationist trained in wildlife management, natural history, and interpretation. He is an avid outdoorsman, graduate of Wesleyan University, and served honorably in the United States Army.
The Nature Lecture Series is co-sponsored by the Town of Bloomfield Leisure Services. They will host this as a free Zoom webinar. No special software or user account is required, just a computer, tablet, or smart phone. We need to send you a login password though, so definitely register for free as soon as possible.
- Thursday, December 3, 1:30 – 3:30 pm
- Saturday, December 5, 1:30 – 3:30 pm
- Sunday, December 6, 1:30 – 3:30 pm
- Clear growth next to the barn with weed whackers.
- Sever vines around Champion trees above head height with loppers and/or hand saws.
- Move miscellaneous debris from behind the barn to the front for pickup.
Please contact us to RSVP with your name, chosen day(s), and phone number so Pete, our Hawk Hill Farm volunteer steward, knows who to expect. Thank you!
Braving the fall chill and snow from the previous day, a diverse and dedicated group of 12 hardy hikers (and dog Tucker), met at the Oliver Filley House, which Sharon Mann had decorated for Halloween. They explored the new trail that runs north-south along the east side of the park linking two beautiful ponds. This ADA-compliant Universal Walking Trail was created by Ironwood Community Partners (ICP), Duncaster Retirement Community, the Land Trust, and the Town of Bloomfield. They then continued northward along the LaSalette Trail to the upper meadows offering stunning views of Hartford valley to the south. Thanks to our guides Vikki Reski and Dale Bertoldi, photographers Paula Jones and Sharon Mann, and co-sponsor Bloomfield Leisure Services.
Thirty-three hikers participated in a four-mile loop hike from Old Saint Andrew’s Church through Bloomfield’s Wilcox Park (pictured), along a portion of the New England National Scenic Trail to the Bartlett Tower ruins in Tariffville, and back. Everyone enjoyed the hike, socially-distanced fellowship, and that neighbor’s Tollenberg goat!
Thanks to Kevin Gough and Paula Jones for guiding the hike through this patchwork of town- and land-trust protected spaces. Paula Jones and Sharon Mann shared the photographs below. Also thanks to Bloomfield Leisure Services for co-sponsoring this event.
When our Wine & Dine Committee had to cancel the 5th annual fundraiser in April because of the coronavirus, they went to work finding another way to have a safe event: A Take-Home Harvest Dinner from our Farms to You.
Chair Sharon Mann recruited Gillette Ridge Golf Club’s manager Jordan Stein and executive chef Jeremy Archer. Our partners Newgate Farms and the 4Five Farm provided locally-sourced organic foods. Soon BackEast Brewery, Lost Acres Orchard, Petersen’s Flower Farm, Avery Beverages and Gillette Ridge Wine & Spirits joined in!
The weather was beautiful when 137 people picked up their delicious meals packaged in beautiful peach baskets with assorted beverages, wine, decorative cloth napkins, and handpicked fall flowers. In keeping with our sustainability efforts, food was packaged in recyclable containers, participants used their own dinnerware, and extra chicken was donated to a local food kitchen.
This sold-out event raised over $17,000 … more than last year!
The funds raised will support the Land Trust’s normal operating expenses and efforts to preserve farmland, conserve natural resources, and promote recreational use of our protected spaces. Learn more about where the money goes.
We could not have accomplished our goals without the support, involvement, and enthusiasm of our sponsors, donors, and volunteers. If you want to help continue the important community work of the Land Trust, consider becoming one of next year’s leading sponsors or voicing your support as a business or individual in our event program. (See last year’s sponsorship info and program for reference.)
Thank you for joining us to eat well and do good.
Mary-Beth Kaeser and staff from Horizon Wings Raptor Rehabilitation & Education in Ashford presented a webinar on the extraordinary features of owls, including their exceptional eyesight, hearing, and ability to fly silently. Over 33 people attended and were treated to a live Northern Saw-Whet Owl, Barred Owl, Barn Owl, Great-Horned Owl, and two Eastern Screech Owls!
The most important take-away message was to avoid using rodenticides to kill mice. The mice can take up to ten days to die and are easy prey for the owls. The poison can kill an adult owl and even wipe out an entire nest if the adult takes it to its young.
Horizon Wing’s mission is to rehabilitate birds of prey for release into the wild in order to maintain their population and to educate the community to enhance awareness of the environment. “Asha” (pictured) is one of the Barred Owls in their care. This webinar was part of WLT’s on-going Nature Lecture Series with Bloomfield Leisure Services.
Peter Picone and Ron Pitz provided a guided tour of Hawk Hill Farm’s beautiful, gently sloping trails. Peter is an urban wildlife biologist at the State Department of Energy & Environmental Protection, and Ron is the former executive director of Knox Foundation (and regular volunteer at Hawk Hill). They discussed the property’s many champion trees, native plants, and efforts to identify and control invasive plants.
(Co-sponsored by the North Central Conservation District, and rescheduled from their April 25 plant sale weekend.)
(L-R: Meadows provide habitat for wildlife such as Purple Martins hunting insects. Ron Pitz and Peter Piccone. A champion White Oak. Bittersweet vines overtaking Cedars. Credits: Paula Jones and Sharon Mann.)
Update from Charlie Horn: A recording of Margery Winters’ online webinar is available on our YouTube Channel, and Margery shared Planting for Pollinators filled with additional resources for protecting our native pollinators. Many thanks to our cosponsors: Bloomfield Beautification Committee, Bloomfield Conservation, Energy & Environment Committee, Bloomfield Leisure Services, and Simsbury Land Trust.
Margery is Assistant Director of the Roaring Brook Nature Center, President of the Simsbury Land Trust, and Chair of the Simsbury Conservation Commission, and her expertise was clear. She provided a riveting and information-packed talk followed by a lively Q & A to a large virtual audience. We gained a clear idea of the dangers pollinators are facing, especially our native pollinators, and she provided us with many ways to help protect and enhance pollinators:
Half of all plant species depend upon pollinators to survive. In Connecticut over 300 native bee species have evolved to depend on native plants. For example, the native Miner Bee feeds primarily on the Trout Lily, a lovely early spring wildflower whose flowers emerge just as the bee breaks dormancy, the Spicebush Swallowtail needs the native Spicebush, the Monarch Butterfly needs Milkweed to survive, and many other native pollinators are similarly adapted to forage on specific plants. An alarming decline in native pollinators is occurring due to loss of habitat for the native plants (often replaced by lawns – “a biological wasteland” – or pretty, non-native ornamentals that support far fewer caterpillars and provide less nutrition to pollinators), contamination from non-native commercial bees, and more extreme weather due to climate change. Also more broad-spectrum pesticides are used in urban yards than in agricultural areas, creating seriously negative impacts on native pollinators and resulting in more pesticides in urban streams than in agricultural streams.
What we choose to plant in our yards can have a big impact. Native plants are best to serve the specialized native pollinators. For example, native shrubs such as the American Dogwood do “double duty” offering both flowers and berries that are the right size for local birds, whereas Kousa Dogwoods are non-native with berries enjoyed by monkeys but too large for our birds. Plant for a full season of flowers, and be sure to include trees such as Red Maples and Shadbush that flower early. Goldenrod (not its allergy-inducing neighbor Ragweed) and the late-blooming Witch Hazel give pollinators good late forage. Mountain Mint is an absolute must and a very important plant for pollinating insects. It makes Bee Balm pale in comparison! Try planting in masses as it makes it easier for the pollinators when they don’t have to hopscotch over a garden to get to a specific plant.
She also recommended providing some water and a wet area for “puddling,” especially now as we are in a period of drought. Use non-toxic methods to control pests, and get rid of standing water on your property to deter mosquitoes before treating chemically.
More welcome advice was to let our yards be a bit messy! Give the solitary nesting native bees and other hibernating pollinators places to abide the winter in the brush pile, an unpruned shrub, or an unmulched bare spot. Seed pods on spent flower heads are a good source of food in the fall, so leave them standing. Leaves are a much better mulch than bark mulch, so do less raking. Bring some life into that barren lawn space, and let your lawn grow native violets and clover by raising the mower blade or even converting some of your yard to meadow. When asked about how to avoid running afoul of local weed ordinances or complaints of a messy yard, she responded she has found that making the yard look “intentional” by mowing borders and a path helps placate others.
Update from Zellene Sandler: Have you ever stroked a snake? They are smooth and cool to the touch, rather like satin. I like snakes, and Adam Harris’ webinar on Reptiles and Amphibians did not disappoint. It reflected his love and respect for these often feared or maligned creatures. Adam is the son of Seth Harris, founder of Harris in Wonderland, located at 364 Albany Turnpike in Canton. He earned a biology degree at Hartwick College and has been keeping and breeding reptiles for more than 20 years.
Adam began his talk with an easy-going, attractive Corn Snake and moved on to native Black Rat, Timber Rattler and other exotics, including his 12 foot long Ball Python which weighs 40 pounds! Adam displayed each snake and described its disposition, habitat, and diet.
Moving on to amphibians, Harris showed frogs and toads, a Bearded Dragon, a Leopard Gecko, and a lovely Tegu, indicating which make good pets. He also discussed the differences between turtles and tortoises and cautioned against releasing pet Red-Eared Sliders into the wild because of how they can harm native turtle populations.
Adam’s message was clear about our native reptiles and amphibians: the snakes are doing a good service for the environment by controlling rodents in our crop fields and gardens, and our frogs and toads control insects. He encourages us to enjoy these unique and useful creatures for what they are – even if they make us jump a bit when we find them in our yards!
This event was co-sponsored by Bloomfield Leisure Services. Thank you!