Sunday, August 3, 2008

Birding CT: The Airline Trail, Old Hartford Rd.

(Airline Trail 7-7-08)
Click on photos to enlarge for best view

It took moving to the west to realize how like a rain forest New England is. Now as I walk down the Old Hartford Rd. section of the airline Trail in Colchester I feel like I am entering a long green tunnel. My sister has run on ahead of me. I am following at my own limping pace with camera and binoculars. The steamy summer air is in such contrast to the dry desert air of Arizona, though at this time of year the Monsoon moisture can rival this New England Humidity.

I pass the sign that designate this trail and wander trough walls of green. At first I am not seeing many birds as there is some kind of construction going on past these tangled green walls. I can hear the roar of heavy machinery and it drowns out all the other sounds of nature, but eventually I am past it, and bird song fills the air again. This remnant of a train track from days gone by burrows though the granite hills of Connecticut. I can see the bisected holes that were drilled in the rock in order to blast a level path through. Now, many years later these granite walls are covered with the multi-colored moss of time. It clings to the rock in shades of rust and green. Its neighbors are the lichens eating ever away at the solid granite.

The mixed forest of New England has been beaten back to the edges of the trail, but wild flowers and dog berry bushes are interspersed with meadow grasses along the edge.

Wildflower 7-7-08
Shooting data: Lens: VR 70-300mm;
Focal Length: 300mm; 1/125 sec - F/5.6

Dogberry 7-7-08

Shooting data: Lens: VR 70-300mm; Focal Length: 300mm, 1/20 sec - F/5.6,

Dog berry is a plant strong in my memory from childhood. I remember being told not to eat the berries, luscious though they look, for they are poisonous to children, but before the berries the honeysuckle bloomed and we would sip the nectar from the tube shaped flowers. The sweet goodness is like a drop of liquid from the gods and we could never get more than a tortuous taste of it. It strikes me now how Christmasy this summer plant is. When snow falls silently on these woods this plant will stand bare branched and gray to receive the its winter blanket and all traces of its summer brilliance will be gone.

Downy Woodpecker 7-7-08
shooting data: Lens: VR 70-300mm; Focal Length: 300mm
1/200 sec - F/5.6; Image cropped and enlarged

I walk on past trees and trees and trees. Finally near a little brook the birds become numerous. Until now I have only seen a robin and heard a few birds off in the woods, the usual blue jays and crows mixed with the occasional chickadee. Now I spot a downy woodpecker pounding away at the dead wood of a rotted tree. Grapevines are growing wildly everywhere giving me the feel of an eastern jungle.

Shooting data: Lens: VR 70-300mm; Focal Length: 70mm; 1/125 sec - F/5.6

The vines climb over an arching branch creating a green arbor above from which the dead vines from last year dangle like the loose hair of a forest nymph.

Eastern Chipmunk 7-7-08 by Kathie

Shooting Data: Lens: VR 70-300mm
Focal Length: 300mm,
1/40 sec - F/5.6
Image cropped and enlarged

Farther down the path an eastern chipmunk sits at alert watching me as I pass by. It sits atop one of those moss covered granite walls where greenery is growing out of every nook and cranny. There is not a view to be had around here that is not framed in green until I get to a spot on the trail thick with oaks. Then everything changes.

Here the gray sunlight filters down inhibited by foliage for the tent caterpillars have thoroughly denuded all the trees. Moths fly about in this open area newly emerged from their chrysalises. They look like confetti falling from the forest sky in some perverse celebration of destruction. It is a life renewing ceremony for them as they will mate and lay eggs for the next round of destruction next year.

The Brook Below 7-7-08 by kathie
Shooting data: Lens: VR 70-300mm F/4.5-5.6 G,
Focal Length: 70mm; 1/100 sec - F/4.5

My sister has run her three miles up and now passes me on her way back to the car. I am almost to the bridge so I tell her I will walk that far and turn around to walk back and meet her. Here the bridge arches over Senate Brook below. The bridge abutment built years ago from the same New England granite is also covered in the same mosses that I saw growing on granite outcroppings along the trail. Dark amber water flows far below me and on a branch I spot a flycatcher hunting insects over the water, but I am unable to get a shot off or identify which species it is before it disappears farther down the river and into the woods.

Bridge over the river 7-7-08 by Kathie
Shooting data:Lens: VR 70-300mm F/4.5-5.6 GFocal Length: 70mm; 1/125 sec - F/4.5

Before me the path leads onward. My endless curiosity pulls me on, but here comes my sister with a bottle of water. We need to go. She has to get back to work. We walk in companionable conversation back to her car. While she has run 6 miles (plus the one she ran to come back and meet me) I have walked but one. I feel as if I have been lost in a time warp or another world. On the way out I am captivated by this flash of orange amidst the endless green. This wild lily is like a shooting star or a firecracker in the dark woods of my hometown.

(Wild Lily 7-7-08 by Kathie)
Shooting data: Lens: VR 70-300mm F/4.5-5.6 G
Focal Length: 300mm; 1/125 sec - F/5.6

Author's Note: Today's post is from a series of post chronicling my recent trip to New England. Posts from Sycamore Canyon will be interspersed throughout the week. To read all the posts having to do with this trip, just click on the New England, Colchester, or Connecticut labels below.

Birds Seen on this walk:

  1. Downy woodpecker-1
  2. Blue jay-1
  3. American crown-2
  4. Black-cpaeed chickadeee-9
  5. White-breated nuthatch-1
  6. American Robin-1
  7. Eastern towhee-1


kjpweb said...

Beautiful walk! Love those wildflowers! Gorgeous! Cheers, Klaus!

Deborah Godin said...

Beautiful shots, all, but the Downy is spectacular. She couldn't have posed in a better place!

Shelley said...

So many great things to see in your photos today! Loved the chipmunk!

Beth said...

I loved this post--you found so much on your walk and the pictures are lovely.

DeniseinVA said...

Thank you for taking us along on this beautiful walk. So lush and green, and so very well written, I imagined I was right there with you experiencing it for myself. Chipmunks are one of my favorite little animals, always so cute.

Pappy said...

Great eye as usual. Also the commentary is enjoyable to read as well as educational. Pappy

Kathie Brown said...

Thanks klaus, Deborah, Shellmo, Beth, Denise and Pappy. I am always so happy to hear from you. I have another post ready to go but blogger is being difficult and won't upload photos for me. I'll come and visit all of you in the meantime and hope they work this one out soon. I checked on the help site and found that I am not the only one having this problem.

I hate it when things don't work the way they are suppose to, don't you?

Ruth said...

Looks like our neck of the woods. lovely photos.
Do you use Firefox? Blogger has never acted up on this browswer since I switched over last year from IE.

abb said...

Our Connecticut is beautiful. But I've never found any place in our wonderful country that's not.

abb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

This has got to be one of the better posts about a walk in woods. Nice photographs too.

Abraham Lincoln
—Brookville, Ohio

bobbie said...

Sheer poetry, Kathie. And the photos were wonderful too.

Larry said...

Beautiful photos.-I've never walked that particular stretch of the trail.