Turtle Hill – March 5 2006

March 5, 2006 6:30 pm to 7pm turtle hill at camp

I live at the base of a beautiful beech maple forest called turtle hill. It’s called turtle hill because it has the shape of a turtles upper shell(carapace) As I begin my walk it starts to lightly snow. It’s the end of winter, which has been very light this year.

Plastic Skat

As I walk uphill I come upon a log with some skat (skat is a polite word for poop). Animals can be identified by there skat. This skat is thumb size and dark. As I examine it there was something that looked like plastic. I pick up a stick and pull it apart and my suspicion is right it is plastic. (Researchers are studying the effects of plastic on animals and ecosystems. Tons of plastic is entering the environment with unknown effects.)  My guess is that that the animal that is responsible for this “gift” is either a raccoon or an opossum. Here at camp we are always finding raccoons in our trash getting a free meal. I will have to check my field guides. (Yes, there are field guides identifying skat.) We have also been seeing lots of opossums as of late. 

Beech Trees 

Theses beechs of turtle hill are likely 150 to 200 years old. They have smooth bark with light ripples. Well, the bark is smooth except for the places where people have carved their initials. Beeches have complex relationships with maples.  Maples saplings grow well under Beech trees and visa versa. Turtle hill is a beech maple climax forest meaning that their will be beeches and maples dominating this woods unless there are external forces(like logging) but on the forest.

Leaf litter is thick covering the soft sandy soil. I don’t know why some leaves last longer than others?

Sandhill Cranes, Turkeys & Wood Ducks

As I continue to walk, I hear the loud calls of the sandhill crane that are on the northwest section of the lake. They are noisy creatures.

As I continue to the vernal pond on top of the hill, I hear a crashing from high in the trees. I see the large mass and recognize it as a wild turkey. It was probably settling in to roost in safety for the night.

I see quite a few deer tracks.

Leaves on the vernal pond have melted their way through the ice making an interesting visual. It looks like stencils made of ice.The sun must heat up the leaves faster than the ice itself?  I then hear more birds, this time the squealing of wood ducks and later I hear the ever present Canadian geese. The woods are stunning. The diffuse light mades it feel like an enchanted forest, and maybe it is.

I am struck by the fact that all the birds that I identify are by sound alone except the crashing of the turkey. Sounds coming from an unseen source in the fading light of day make it magical.

A wonderful thing about paying attention to nature is that you can always learn more answers that serve to unlock more questions.


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