Come join us on Tuesday, August 6th for a weed whacking party. Meet at the front entrance at 5pm, bring a weed whacker if you have one we will have a few extras for folks to use. Bring water and a headlamp. We will shuttle people up to Rocky Pond and we will hike on the Carriage Trail to get grass/ferns, berry bushes pushed back. We could use 15+ people so maybe we’re done before 9pm! THANKS!
Wild Times at Pine Hill Park by Tom Estill
Spring, 2019 Summary
At the beginning of spring, lower Giorgetti trails were all bare ground; while throughout all the upper trails one could still find patches of snow and ice, especially on the north facing slopes.
The last day of March found both Rocky and Muddy ponds covered in ice with a few puddles of water dispersed throughout the ice cover. A few Canada geese were seen at Muddy pond and pair of mallards were seen at Rocky Pond swimming in a few small patches of open water on the perimeter of the ponds. The only birds I saw that day were a pileated woodpecker, crow, and the waterfowl mentioned above.
By April 7th, the snow was almost completely gone from the park, but both ponds were still covered in ice with the exception of a narrow band of open water around the perimeters of both ponds. I was terribly disappointed to see the old osprey nest tree blown down by a recent storm. Osprey had successfully nested there the last two years. Eastern newts were seen for the first time this season, along with a few northern migrating birds including yellow-bellied sapsucker, hermit thrush, wood ducks and osprey.
In mid-April, all signs of ground snow and ice were gone, and ice was completely gone from both ponds. Streams were running high, red oaks were budding, trout lily leaves were emerging from the ground cover and coltsfoot was flowering. Water level at Rocky Pond was so high; it was flowing over the top of all 3 beaver dams. More and more northern migrating birds were seen each day. In mid-April you could see Turkey Vultures flying overhead, and common mergansers at Muddy pond. Wood frogs, in large numbers, were calling from a wet wooded area just south of Rocky Pond.
In April, Lauren White made contact with representatives of VELCO in an attempt to get them to install an osprey platform on a power pole they were installing at the north end of Muddy Pond. Her efforts were successful and in the third week of April, 2 osprey were seen building a nest on the platform, after starting one on the top of an adjacent power pole, then leaving it.
On April 22nd, spring wildlife was out in full force. Birds seen that day included tufted titmouse, black-capped chickadee, yellow-bellied sapsucker, hairy woodpecker, crow, black and white warbler, turkey vulture, mallards, Canada geese, osprey and white-breasted nuthatches. Spring peepers were calling, and painted turtles were sunning themselves. Many insects were flying about including the Mourning Cloak, the first butterfly to always appear in the park. 2 deer ticks were found crawling up my pant legs. I always do a thorough job of checking for ticks after each of my walks.
By the first week of May, many flowers were blooming including trout lily, wood anenome, white violets, trailing arbutus, wild oats and partridge berry. A few days later, the forest floor could be seen covered with fiddleheads, barren strawberries, white and purple violets, jack-in-the-pulpit, coltsfoot, and trout lilies, with Solomon’s seal starting to emerge.
In mid-May, polygala and toothwort were flowering, and the great crested flycatcher, catbirds, and rufous-sided towhees could be heard singing in the park. Gray treefrogs were calling and red efts could be seen on the trails, especially after a rain. All 50 American chestnuts survived the winter except one. That dead tree was replaced by an American chestnut obtained from the State of Washington.
By the end of May, foamflower, starflower, and pink Lady’s slipper were all flowering. Indigo buntings were once again nesting in trees under the powerlines on the Carriage trail, and a two-lined salamander was found under a rock.
At the beginning of June you would find false Solomon’s Seal, Canada mayflower, smooth Solomon’s seal and pink Lady’s slippers all flowering. New birds seen included the yellowthroat, broad-winged hawk, Eastern peewee, and least flycatcher.
Mid-June found yellow swallowtails flying about, Eastern chipmunks and gray squirrels scurrying about, and Osprey sitting quietly on the nest, probably keeping 2 or 3 eggs warm.
That’s it for this issue. Enjoy your time at Pine Hill Park, and please, remember to stay on the trails.
Anyone is welcome to join us on these days. We will be working on the new trail that was started last year. Plus some maintenance work on other trails in the park.
YES Plan from Rutland High School will be in on these dates:
June 5th, meet at front entrance at 9:15
June 7th, meet at front entrance at 9:15
June 10th, meet at front entrance at 9:15
June 11th, meet at front entrance at 9:15
June 12th, meet at front entrance at 9:15
June 17th and 18th starts Youth Works. Meet at the front entrance at 9:15.
June 24th and 25th is Youth Works meet at front entrance at 9:15.
July 1st and 2nd is Youth Works meet at front entrance at 9:15
July 15th and 16th is Youth Works meet at the front entrance at 9:15
July 22 and 23rd is Youth Works meet at the front entrance at 9:15.
UPDATE: April 26th, We are pushing start time back to 10AM in hopes the hard rain will have stopped. We still have projects that can be done in the damp. We need YOUR help. Thank you.
9AM at the front entrance of Pine Hill Park. We will be working to clean up the front entrance and do repair work to Exit Strategy. We have tools and gloves. Bring water and sunscreen.
The spring of 2019, the Rutland City Recreation Department is offering a new all-girls mountain biking program. Check it out!
Gritty Girls Mountain Bike Club: Grades 3-8; Sundays from 1-3pm, 4/28/2019 – 6/2/2019. Dates may change due to weather. Cost $35 for Rutland city residents; $46, non-residents. This all-girls club will be friendly and fun. Confidence, knowledge, and basic skills will be gained in a supportive, team environment. Includes t-shirt. Equipment loan and/or bike discounts are available. Get ready to ride the trails!
August 15th, Stegosaurus will be closed for the day while we remove a couple of large dead oaks near Hour Glass Bridge. Please refrain from riding, hiking or trail running on Stego Wednesday. THANK YOU.
Lower part of Aaron’s Air is temporarily closed. It is getting some much needed refurbishment. Please DO NOT ride the lower part please.
Tom Estill’s fantastic spring report of happenings in Pine Hill Park.
Thank you Rosey, Chris and Bryan for spending 3 hours on a damp Sunday morning in Pine Hill Park. Complete with mosquitoes having breakfast on them.
As we are in the midst of the freeze thaw cycles. We have a few trails that we will be closing off for winter. This will happen the week of November 20th. These trails stay closed until spring is well under way.
Droopy Muffin (steep hill) between Intersections 30 and 30A will close, Lichen Rock and Exit Strategy. We do this to protect the trail tread from ruts when it’s soft and folks are riding. There is always a good possibility that Voldemort will close in late winter once the surface water starts running.
Please respect our trail closures. Our volunteer groups work really hard to have a great trail system so please don’t make work for them by rutting trails up.
Thanks! Remember rubberside down.