Saturday, May 31, 2008

Far Mill and Means Brook Join

Not many people have seen where the Far Mill River and Means Brook join, which is too bad, because it's teaming with wildlife (or maybe that's good). The spot is difficult to get to for much of the year because of the marshy terrain, but if the water is low, and you're a little adventurous, you can get there from the Rec Path and Land Trust meadow.

At the southern end of the meadow, look for an unmarked path heading west towards the river. Go straight into the woods along the path, but when the path curves left, go straight ahead to a small rise occupied by a concrete pad and wellhead (this is, after all, the "Huntington Wellfield Open Space"). Cross the concrete and bear left a bit to a small clearing. In the distance, straight ahead, is the Far Mill River coming straight towards you. To the right is Means Brook, but you can't really see it if the water is low, because it's obsured by a low island. Follow the shoreline left a bit to a log that you can cross to reach the island. Wear mud shoes, and watch out for stinging nettles.

Cross the island to see where the two rivers meet. Then hang out for a bit to watch the wildlife, as I did today:

As soon as I reached the river I heard the plop of a turtle falling into the water. Yellow iris bloomed along the edge. I crossed the river and immediately heard great crashing on the opposite shore in the brush, followed by lengthy snorting by a deer. They don't usually do that around here since they are so used to people.

I headed toward a patch of woods on the island crowned by a specimen Swamp White Oak which towered over a thicket of dogwood shrubs just covered in white flowers. A garter snake slipped by. Back out in the open, I watched a pair of bluebirds attending their nest in a 'snag' (old dead tree) on the edge of the water. A trout darted as I approached the shore. A frog croaked. All kinds of birds swooped around me and sang. Red-winged blackbirds were the most notable.

Off the island and down the shore a bit I could see live freshwater mussels on the river bottom. Usually you only see them after an animal has lunched on them and deposited the shells onshore. Clumps of Blue Flag Iris were in bloom.

Back in the meadow, I finally spied the Baltimore Orioles I'd been looking for. It was a good ten minutes before I realized I was standing directly under their nest, which hangs from a black cherry tree in full bloom right over the Rec Path. It's about half way down the meadow, next to a tree that has a 'open space' marker on it. Under it are freshly dug tunnels by a woodchuck or fox.

This was one of those days that made me wish I had a 35 mm camera instead of a point-and-shoot. Even so, I didn't do too awfully bad - here are my photos from the day.