Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A New Nice Place to Walk

Today dawned rainy and warmish but it cleared and cooled as the day wore on. It was still raining when I went for a drive around Saratoga Lake to look for migrating waterfowl in the few areas now free of ice. I didn't see many, other than the hordes of Canada Geese that winter here anyway. But I did spot this extraordinary creature as I made my way home heading north on U.S. 9.

Yes, it's an interesting horse, but what really grabbed my attention was the "nature preserve" part of this gateway sign. Hmm. Why not turn in here and see what they're calling a nature preserve? I expected a few drainage ditches and a runoff pond given by the real-estate developer as a sop to the community, but the place turned out to be much nicer than that.

A series of trails wound through extensive wetlands, some wooded areas, and open meadows. Here, a very handsome covered bridge crossed one of the ponds, providing a shelter for observing the many birds that populate the marshy thickets.

Another trail led around the pond toward an area marked by much beaver activity.

LOTS of beaver activity!

For some reason, the beavers left intact this little tree with vividly colored twigs. I think it might be a willow. In such a dank, dark landscape as we had today, such color sure stood out.

Update: My friend Ed sent me a note reminding me that willows have alternate leaves, so this opposite-leafing shrub is more likely a dogwood. I guess I was misled by the yellow of some of its twigs.

While I was still walking the trails, the sky cleared in the west, dramatically gilding the marsh with sunlight so that it glowed against the backdrop of steel-gray clouds in the east.

Because of the presence of so many alien invasive plants like Multiflora Rose, Purple Loosestrife, and Phragmites, I'm not sure how interesting this preserve will turn out to be for wildflower enthusiasts, but I bet it will be a great place for watching birds. Its open expanses also offer great wide views of clouds and sky, with benches and viewing platforms placed throughout. Too bad the folks who use this preserve don't take better care of it.


Anonymous said...

a new take on the 'jockey in the front yard'? :-) Terrific shot of the marsh with the steely grey clouds behind them. Today is supposed to be the only nice day this week in our area - let's hear it for a hike! :-)

Ellen Rathbone said...

What a gem to find! Maybe with some coverage by our Gal in Saratoga (that would be you), this place may become better loved and cared for by the locals. Looks like a lovely spot - I especially like that covered bridge and the photo with the menacing clouds in the background. :)