Update: No snow? No problem! On February 22 we held our annual winter hike in the Land Trust’s Speer Preserve. Led by Board member Dale Bertoldi, sixteen enthusiastic hikers (and three dogs, also enthusiastic!) enjoyed two hours of splendid conditions on the Preserve’s loop trails, across stunning cliff outcroppings, past a beautiful pond, and over three bubbling streams. While it was disappointing not to be able to snowshoe on this winter hike, the unusually mild and almost snowless winter made for great hiking in the upland forest, with little ice on the trails or streams. (Photo credit Dale Bertoldi.)
Join us at the Land Trust’s Speer Preserve for a winter outing. Come early and be prepared to be on the trails shortly after 9:30 a.m. The trail is easy to moderate and the hike lasts about one and a half to two hours.
Speer Preserve is an upland forest surrounded by open land and MDC Reservoir property. Speer is an outing experience reminiscent of winter in the Vermont woods. Hard to believe Bloomfield Center is just minutes from Juniper Road.
Please come with snowshoes if we have snow, or hiking boots if there is no snow. Wear seasonal outdoor clothing. Meet at the cul-de-sac at the top of Juniper Road in Bloomfield. Rain date is Sunday, February 23.
As twilight falls we’ll head up the old farm road to Hawk Hill for views of the Metacomet Ridge and Hartford skyline illuminated by the colors of the setting sun and the light of the rising almost-full moon. Sturdy footwear required and a flashlight recommended.
Not up for a hike? Meet at the barn at 5:00 for a warm fire and light snacks, ready to welcome back our group shortly thereafter. It’ll be a good chance to catch up with friends … and ask us about on-going Land Trust projects. Dress in layers and let us know if you’d like to bring something.
Update: Thirty-six hikers participated in our sixth annual regional hike. After being rained out last year, it was a beautiful, clear fall day with near-peak fall foliage color. From SLT’s Tanager Hill parcel we ascended 540’ through ravines, orchards, and former farm fields to Penwood State Park’s Lake Louise. We climbed to the Pinnacle where we enjoyed stunning views of the Farmington River Valley.
We then descended to WLT’s Stout Family Fields and hiked across WLT’s Hawk Hill Farm to our end-point at the Oliver Filley House in Bloomfield’s LaSalette Park. For those wanting more mileage, WLT President Vic Herson led the way to Filley Park in Bloomfield’s center.
Thanks to Kevin Gough, Sally and Don Rieger, Vic Herson, and Dale Bertoldi for planning the hike and Paula Jones for the pictures. Thanks also to Bloomfield Leisure Services for providing a shuttle. And thanks to everyone who participated in this annual event showcasing the town-to-town trail connectivity the two land trusts have created between our communities.
Why do we love our butterflies, swallows and bees, but not bats? Bats perform many of the same services, and more, yet many folks fear them or at least don’t appreciate them. Is it because they fly at night, or because of vampire myths? We can dispel these fears with some knowledge.
The average bat in Connecticut can consume its body weight each night in insects, including mosquitoes and agricultural pests such as moths. Worldwide bats pollinate over 400 species of plants, including cocoa, bananas and agave. What’s a world without chocolate or tequila? Bats eat insects that infest corn and other important crops, estimated to save $3.7 billion in reduced crop damage and reduced need for pesticides in the US.
So-called vampire bats, which only occur in Central and South America, don’t suck blood, but make a small incision in an animal or bird and lick the blood. The anti-coagulant in their saliva, called Draculin, is being studied for use in heart and stroke medications. Even their guano is useful for fertilizers. In the Civil War, the Confederacy used bat guano to make gunpowder.
Bats are not rodents. Close-ups of their faces are rather cute. They are the only mammals that can truly fly. They fly by echolocation and don’t get tangled in your hair. Though rabies occurs in bats, only 1% of the population carries the disease.
In Connecticut, there are eight species of bats, all of which are in grave danger of extinction or serious decline. Big Brown Bats are the most common, followed by Little Brown Bats. Bats reproduce slowly, with each mother producing only one or two pups each year. Mating occurs in fall and by July the pups fly. In September, bats migrate to caves and mines, mostly in Vermont, where they hibernate until spring.
Bats are in trouble in many areas of the world. In Connecticut, 95 percent of our Connecticut bats have been lost due to White Nose Syndrome (WNS), a disease imported from Asia in 2006. However, there is some hope, as ultraviolet light has proved successful in eradicating the disease. More research is needed on how this treatment affects cave environments. Wind turbines are another serious threat to bats, adding to the decline. As Connecticut adds more wind power to its renewable portfolio, it would do well to look to Hawaii, which is providing a good example of how careful regulation of the wind industry may be able to minimize the toll on bats and birds through careful planning and siting of wind turbines.
How can we help our bats? Blueprints for bat houses and other information are available at www.batcon.org. Maternity roosts need to be very warm, so place them on a pole or building facing south. We can plant gardens for bats, especially those with pollinator plants that will attract night-flying moths, a favorite food for bats. We can advocate for bats. And just in time for Hallowe’en, Bat Week is October 24 -31! Learn more about these wonderful creatures by visiting www.batweek.org. So what’s not to love?
By Zellene Sandler, land trust member
Join friends and neighbors of all ages to help remove litter from the trails and riverbank of Bloomfield’s Farmington River Park. With enough volunteers, crews will go to nearby Griffin Brook in the Land Trust’s Merritt Preserve and canoe/kayak on the river.
The Land Trust co-hosts this event with the Farmington River Watershed Association as part of the Connecticut River Conservancy’s Source-to-Sea Cleanup. While most Bloomfield streams flow into Hartford’s Park River, some flow north into the Farmington which received a rare U.S. National Park Service Wild & Scenic designation earlier this year. The Hartford Courant’s Peter Marteka wrote about Farmington River Park recently.
The goal is to maintain water quality, improve wildlife habitat, and sustain healthy recreation in our region’s waterways. Past cleanups removed roof shingles, washing machine parts, ironing boards, glass bottles, and more from the riverbanks.
So please join us: RSVP online. We’ll provide garbage bags and gloves. We recommend pants, long sleeves, mud-worthy footwear, and personal gloves. And if you are interested in canoeing/kayaking, add a note to your online reservation.
Update: Volunteers cleaned the barn interior, picked up around the yard, mowed along the road edge, re-purposed leftover straw bales, removed felled trees, and removed invasive vines from many of the property’s 12 state champion trees. Thanks to all who helped improve the curb appeal for our neighbors and ready the site for a new farmer to occupy this bucolic farmstead.
Join your Land Trust property stewards on Friday, September 20, and/or Saturday, September 21 for a general cleanup of the historic barn and invasive vine work on the many specimen trees at the farm. Meet in front of the barn at 9:00 am and work as long as weather and schedules permit. Bring loppers, gloves, and good boots. Questions? Contact steward Pete Bartkoski.
Update: Kyle Testerman, from CT’s DEEP Wildlife Division, stepped in on short notice to save the evening when the scheduled speaker was unable to attend. Over 100 attendees learned about the natural history of black bears, current research efforts, and practical recommendations for co-existing with them. For example, please don’t leave tempting food sources such as garbage cans and bird seed within their reach!
Join us for a presentation on black bears in Connecticut sponsored by Bloomfield Leisure Services, Bloomfield Senior Services, and the Wintonbury Land Trust.
- A fascinating multimedia presentation in the new Alvin & Beatrice Wood Human Services Center
- Light refreshments will be served
- Question and answer period
- Rides provided for seniors who need transportation through Bloomfield Senior Services at 860.243.8361
- Preregister for free with Bloomfield Leisure Services online as refreshments will be served, or call 860.243.2923 for more details
Paul Colburn, a Connecticut Master Wildlife Conservationist and avid outdoorsman, will focus on the natural history of black bears and current research efforts. He will provide an overview of their habitat, diet, behavior, and reproduction and use black bear artifacts to help dispel myths and common misunderstandings. Paul also will share practical recommendations for optimum co-existence with our black bear neighbors.
Update: Two hard-working groups of volunteers removed old barbed wire fencing and fallen trees, and cut weeds, vines, and thistle from areas inaccessible to the tractor. A 1955 John Deere tractor donated by the past farmer tenant, HighlandArt Farm, was moved to the barn for storage. Many thanks to coordinators Pete Bartkoski (Hawk Hill Steward) and Dale Bertoldi and other volunteers LeeAnn Bartkoski, John Cappadona, Sten Caspersson, Chip Caton, Dick Hughes, Bill Miller, and Vikki Reski.
The fields have been cut and the grass mown. But to keep invasives at bay and the La Salette Trail passable, we need to clean up the edges. Can you help one or both days? Volunteers with edge trimmers or loppers are needed. Bring gloves, closed-toe footwear, and pants or other tick/ivy prevention. Each day we’ll gather at 9:00 and work as long as the weather and our schedules permit. If you have questions please contact Pete Bartkoski.
(Photo credit: Dennis Hubbs)
Update: President Victor Herson opened the annual membership business meeting with an overview of activities in the past year including the new website, hay storage in Hawk Hill Farm‘s barn, the metal roof on Thrall Farm‘s barn, restoration of fields at Hawk Hill Farm and Stout Family Fields, acquisition of the Evans Family Meadows and parcels on Beacon Hill, and numerous hikes and events. Treasurer Paul Jones summarized fundraising efforts, on-going stewardship expenses, and fund balances. The membership approved minor edits to the bylaws and re-elected Chip Caton, Victor Herson, and Sharon Mann to three-year terms on the Board of Directors. A more detailed summary appears in our August newsletter.
After the business meeting, members and guests met for a social gathering and refreshments before a presentation, “Every Yard Counts: How to Create a Healthy Monarch Butterfly Habitat at Home.” Diane St John, manager of Natureworks Garden Center, a retail store and landscape company in Northford, CT, has a Landscape Design Certificate, is an accredited Organic Land Care Professional and has a BFA in photography. Diane explained the life cycle of the Monarch Butterfly and how we can attract and raise Monarchs in our own yards by using organic gardening techniques and planting foods that these butterflies love. Her photography skills were evident in her beautiful photos. In addition, she presented live examples of the stages of life of the Monarchs she raises. More information about raising Monarchs is available here.
Update: Approximately 75 hikers of all ages participated in the various walks offered these two weekends, taking advantage of the beautiful weather to explore scenic views and find Bobolink birds. Thanks to Kevin Gough, Paula Jones, Christopher Shepard, and Jim Trail for assisting with the walks.
This easy hike will start at the head of Seabury’s Wildwoods Trail, State property leased to the Town of Bloomfield for passive recreation with trails developed and maintained with the assistance of the Seabury Trails Committee. We will explore several trails for a total distance of approximately 2.0 miles, spotting interesting birds and flowers in the meadows, wetlands, and woods.
Meet at the visitor parking at the rear of Seabury Active Life Plan Community. Look for the painted cow sculpture. Heavy rain reschedules – rain date next Sunday, June 9, same time. Leashed dogs permitted. Pre-registration not required. Free.
This is one of many hikes across the state Connecticut Trails Day weekend, part of an initiative the American Hiking Society established in 1993 to recognize the incredible benefits trails provide for recreation and exposure to nature.
This hike will be repeated the following Sunday, June 9, as part of Celebrate Bloomfield, a week when people of all walks of life come together to appreciate the natural and cultural gifts, healthy and mindful living, and sense of community in Bloomfield. Please join us!