Saturday, March 15, 2014

Housatonic River Bluff - Shelton

The wooded river bluff faces northeast and stays cool
The river bluff  rises several hundred feet along the west shore Lake Housatonic, extending from the Derby-Shelton to the Monroe/Shelton border. Most of it is preserved land, either as Indian Well State Park, Shelton Open Space, or Shelton Land Trust property.  The snow wasn't very deep, so I strapped on my Kahtoola microspikes, grabbed a trekking pole, and went exploring.  With snow on the ground and leaves off the trees, you can see the lay of the land much better than in summer.

Rock shelters an interesting insect construction
The most interesting find of the day was an ornate insect nest under a sheltering rock. I actually have a book to identify things like this called, "Tracks and Signs of Insects," and was able to quickly identify the owner: The Organ Pipe Mud Dauber, a black wasp whose primary food source is spiders.

The nest of an Organ Pipe Mud Dauber Wasp
A cache of Bittersweet berries in a log, perhaps from a chipmunk
The hard, icy snow had soften recently and recorded the recent movements of wildlife, mostly turkey and squirrels.  Lots and lots of turkey tracks, along with holes in the snow from acorn removal.  I had my eye out for predator tracks, but didn't find any.

Turkey Runway

This one didn't make it.
Squirrel tracks

Turkey tracks and acorn access holes were everywhere