solitary boulders, stranded here and there

11.2.22 ~ a trail at Bluff Point State Park & Coastal Reserve

Hello, November! Taking an afternoon walk instead of our usual morning saunter proved to be invigorating — we went on for an hour and a half! There are many side trails at Bluff Point and we took a couple of them, finding some summery greens, a few fall colors and many bare trees, ready for winter. And of course, glacial erratics at every turn.

dried up browned ferns surround a glacial erratic
birch leaf

As we were walking along we were surprised to witness the silent flight of an owl. We did not see or hear it swoop down to catch its prey, but we suddenly heard the moment of capture, a rustling of the dry leaves on the ground, and then saw it fly up and away, soundlessly, carrying its squirrel-sized victim.

dense woodland behind old stone wall
sunlit maple leaves

The entire Connecticut landscape is a gift of the glacier. … Our safe harbors, historic mill sites and early farm economy were made possible by an ice sheet that oozed down from Canada between 25,000 and 15,000 years ago. The ice sheet also gave us fertile lowlands along our large rivers, gracefully curved upland pastures, gravel riffles in trout streams, verdant marshes fronting shoreline villages, a patchwork of stone walls, bricks for colonial buildings and solitary boulders, stranded here and there as if they were hillside shipwrecks. All of these are glacier gifts.
~ Robert Thorson
(“Connecticut’s Glacial Gifts”, Hartford Courant, August 31, 2003)

American wintergreen

We also saw a woodpecker and a nuthatch, but couldn’t get a decent picture of either of them. It was loads of fun navigating all the side trails weaving through the woods, deciding which fork to take several times. It was almost like a maze and we did backtrack a few times when we seemed to be going in the wrong direction.

sassafras leaf
a squirrel for Linda

When we got back to the parking lot a man was feeding a couple of squirrels. I think he must be doing it regularly because the squirrels were hanging out there very close to him. There were a few birds scolding this squirrel, impatient to have at some of those seeds he was sitting on. It was such a pleasure to be deep in the woods on a warm and lovely November afternoon.

25 thoughts on “solitary boulders, stranded here and there”

  1. Thanks for taking me along on your nice walk. I liked the huge bolders, the trees, Fall colors and that last photo of that cute squirrel.

    1. You’re welcome, Peggy. I’m glad you enjoyed seeing all the wonderful woodsy things I managed to get pictures of that day. 🙂

  2. I’m trilled that you have been able to get another good weather walk in before winter frosts, Barbara. I especially enjoy all the lines the trees make when stepping back to take in the big picture. The owl was a great treat!

    My favorite this post is “Squirrel for Linda”, so sweet in many ways!

    1. The tree’s winter shadows are growing longer and longer these late autumn days, TD. Even that oak leaf had a nice long shadow. The sun is so low in the sky up here now and getting closer to the ground as the solstice approaches. Seeing that owl made our day, and squirrels always make me think of Linda. 🙂

  3. I so very much enjoyed this lovely walk through the woods with you two, Barbara. You captured the magnificence of autumn with the colored leaves and changing trees, I enjoyed seeing wintergreen and sassafras leaves, both new to me. I really enjoyed the theme of the boulders in the title, photos, and lovely quote. And I especially liked your description of the owl and its miraculously quiet flight. What a fantastic encounter for you both to witness. Thanks for sharing all this beauty and nature with us.

    1. Thank you, Jet. I’m so happy you could join us for this wonderful walk. Your comment made me look up range maps for wintergreen and sassafras — I had no idea they were found only on the east coast. I love finding wintergreen popping up through the brown leaves on winter walks in the woods. And I have fond memories of my father teaching me about sassafrases and the three distinct leaf patterns on the same tree. The one I found was hanging onto a tiny sapling. I’m glad you enjoyed the quote. Robert Thorson is a geology professor my sister knows at the University of Connecticut. And the owl encounter was an awe-inspiring experience for both of us.

  4. That little squirrel definitely looks like he must be eating well! And I love the sunlit maple leaves — so pretty. I’d forgotten about sassafras leaves, so thank you for reminding me. I’m pretty sure I had one in my leaf collection, back in the day!

    1. I’m sure the squirrels get fed by that man almost every day, if not daily! I think I was in middle school when we had to collect leaves for a big term project. My father drove me all up and down the back roads looking for different trees. He showed me the three distinct patterns on the sassafras leaves and it made a big impression on me. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Frank! I’d say we are enjoying the Indian summer but we haven’t had a frost here yet to make it official.

  5. There are so many glacial erratics in your area (mine, too), they’re like toys dropped by some giant toddler!
    Looks like you’ve been enjoyed this spell of glorious weather… almost summer.
    I think we’re going to have a bumper crop of squirrels this year, I’ve counted at least three nests around the perimeter of the yard. I bought one of those weighted feeders the other day in anticipation. I hope the owls and hawks take notice!

    1. I like your giant toddler and her toys metaphor, Eliza. 🙂 They do look very randomly scattered. It’s been like summer here the past few days and the dew point has been uncomfortably high. I hope we don’t get too many more spells like that. I enjoy the warmth but not the humidity. Good luck with your squirrel population explosion. We seem to be getting more than usual here and even had one pee on the table on our balcony. Grrr… They’re awfully cute but such a nuisance!

    1. Thank you, Donna! Those leaves were a grand finale for maple for the season. They were the only ones I found that day. 🍁

  6. I enjoyed this walk Barbara, the sunlit leaves and your eyes taking in all the sights that I would as we appreciate the same gifts of Nature’s beauty, then setting out to write about them. I was sorry to hear about the owl’s prized late lunch, but smiled when I saw that cute Eastern Gray Squirrel you put in here for me. 🙂 Thank you. How peaceful to be here and eke out as much as you can of a gorgeous Autumn before the real Autumn and Winter set in.

    1. You’re welcome, Linda. Every time I see a squirrel these days I think of you and Parker. 🙂 Seeing the owl take off silently with its prey was amazing, even though it was a poignant reminder of the circle of life and what it means to various creatures. Sometimes I meditate on how constantly stressful life must be for prey animals. It’s undesirable but must be accepted for nature stay balanced. Sigh. It was beautiful but sad at the same time.

      1. That’s nice you think of us Barbara. Parker is a big part of my walks and before I started going to larger parks, I went there nearly every day, so I took a lot of pictures of him and the other squirrels. I will be taking more pictures of them in Winter – the snowy snoots make cute photos. I would be upset seeing it too and one day while walking I heard a horrible screeching noise and looked up to see a large bird chasing a medium-sized bird. We had a lot of peregrine falcons at that time and they were preying on doves. People in our City neighborhood forum on Facebook would say they saw doves underneath their feeders and the falcon would grab it up. I never saw that and a dove is not that small, so I was surprised.

        But, anyway, the noise was awful and I couldn’t look up again – eventually the noise stopped so I guess it nabbed that bird. It was eerie and stayed with me for a long time.

        1. It’s true, those snowy squirrel snoots do make for adorable photo-ops. 🙂 It’s probably a good thing we don’t often see how some creatures obtain their food — even though it’s natural it does seem gruesome to our sensibilities.

          1. I’ve gotten some cute shots of the squirrels on a snowy day, especially if I’ve not been down there in a few days due to icy or snowy roads (I don’t drive then, just walk). I don’t like using the camera if it is snowing, so have to plan taking pics around the weather, plus walking conditions. It is better we don’t think of how animals obtain their food. I scan the skies s soon as I get to the Park. I have not seen any hawks this last week – perhaps they’ve migrated. The squirrels running in the snow makes them a bullseye for a hungry hawk.

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