Friday, November 26, 2010

Birchbank Mountain Trek

We decided to try the new "outer loop" hike at Birchbank, which is a combination of Birchbank Trail (white), the new blue-yellow connector, and the Paugussett Trail (blue). Two of our party (including the dog!) stepped right over this little Woodland Vole that was in the middle of the trail. It was still alive, but barely. It didn't look injured, but they have a life span of only three months, so maybe it was just old.

There are so many little mouse-like animals in Connecticut, it's hard to know what you're looking at. This one is clearly a rodent because of the two front incisors. Shrews look like mice but are unrelated and have teeth more like a dog. So we get to choose from mice, moles, and voles. The short tail, little eyes, and lack of powerful digging arms (like a mole) make this one a vole.

Near the chimney are the remains of a buck that was killed by a hunter. Another hiker reported vultures feeding on it. The buck must have run far enough away after he was hit so the hunter couldn't find him. Hunting is illegal at Birchbank, but legal on abutting private properties. So this one has become food for the coyote, bobcat, fisher, ravens, vultures, and other forest animals.

Here's the new stretch of blue-yellow trail heading up to the overlook of the Housatonic River. The new part is 0.2 mile and not steep at all.

Previously, the only way to get up to the overlook was via a steep section of trail that has been blazed blue-yellow since the early 1990s, but was once the main Paugussett Trail. The trail was reportedly rerouted in anticipation of housing construction on Golden Hill which was going to block the route. At the last minute the route was saved, but the trail had already been rerouted. So a spur to the overlook was reblazed blue-yellow, and the trail north of that abandoned.

You never know what you're going to find along the trail. I've been on the white trail a zillion times, but just noticed this tacked to a tree for the first time.


hikeagiant2 said...

Sad about the buck - good for the critters that will feed on him, but I hate to think he suffered.

Love the 'stairs'! Isn't it amazing what oddities one finds on the trail - even after many times hiking by them!

Thanks for the post - and a possible new hiking destination!

sheri said...

I love your blog!

Teresa said...

Update 12/5/2010 - the deer is now nothing but a skeleton - every morsel was eaten by park wildlife.