November in CT: The Link Between Acorns and Foraging Bears

As bears prepare for hibernation, they increase their food intake to 20,000 calories a day to build up energy reserves for winter. Acorns are a fatty, calorie-dense source that many animals, especially bears, rely on ahead of winter. This year, the Connecticut Agricultural Experimental Station reports widespread failure of the acorn crop. DEEP officials report that the lack of acorns could cause bears to seek out human-associated food like garbage. Avoid attracting bears to your yard by following some simple practices

What causes the fluctuations in the acorn crop? Oak trees, like many nut-bearing trees, are known for synchronizing seed production. The fluctuation is an evolutionary strategy called predator satiation. When the oaks in an area have a bumper crop of acorns, called a mast year, predators (chipmunks, squirrels, turkeys, blue jays, deer, bear, etc.) can’t eat all the acorns. This allows more nuts to grow into trees. The years of lean acorn production keep predator populations low, so there are fewer animals to eat all the seeds in a mast year.

Want to hear more about the interactions between oak trees and animals? Watch the Doug Tallamy presentation, The Nature of Oaks, and learn more about these amazing trees.

Annual Picnic at Hadlow

On a breezy, blue-sky September day, NCLC celebrated its first community picnic since the pandemic began at the 45-acre Hadlow Preserve in Sherman. The event, held on one of the region’s most beautiful scenic vistas, was a favorite annual Naromi Land Trust tradition. This year marked the first time NCLC hosted the event since Naromi Land Trust and Weantinoge Heritage Land Trust merged to form NCLC in 2020.

It was a perfect opportunity for members, conservation partners and leaders, and those new to NCLC to gather and share a barbecue lunch, fly kites, play lawn games, and learn more about the NCLC extensive trail network, which includes 21 trials with 9 in Sherman alone. After lunch, there was time to  kick back and enjoy one of the most glorious views in northwestern Connecticut.

Taking in the 360-degree view at the top of the meadow, Frank Ruiz of New Milford said he felt like he was on top of the world. “I am always looking for new places to hike and I will definitely return here with my dogs,” he said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dogs are allowed on NCLC preserves provided they are on a leash. Catherine Heald, who was walking her golden retriever with her husband, Donald, remarked on the success of the land trust merger. “We’ve been involved with what was Naromi for 22 years so now we are thrilled with the merger, I think it is so much better for everyone. We love this picnic and we are thrilled to  have all our friends from Kent and Washington here now, too.” said Catherine Heald.

The tables covered with red-and-white checked cloth were set up on a section of the field named Kemp’s Meadow after P. Kempton Mandeville, a long-time Treasurer of Naromi Land Trust.

Former Sherman resident Mary Hadlow bequeathed the Hadlow Preserve to Naromi Land Trust in 1998, and she had donated multiple other properties to Naromi during her lifetime, including the heart of the Mallory Preserve, another public preserve in Sherman.

A large portion of the  Hadlow Preserve is leased to the Leszczynski Family Farm for hay production. The fields on the easternmost end of the preserve are not mowed and are  managed for grassland birds. Species of special concern, including bobolinks and savannah sparrows, have been sighted on the property. A kestrel box, which American Kestrels use for nesting, was installed along the northern boundary, and several  kestrels have fledged from the box in recent years.

An Evening with Doug Tallamy – The Nature of Oaks

As much an engaging storyteller as a scientist, Dr. Doug Tallamy’s presentation, “The Nature of Oaks” will leave you with a profound respect for the oak trees in our landscapes and forests. Deemed a keystone species, this often outsized tree plays an equally outsized role in supporting numerous wildlife creatures.

Register online: https://bit.ly/CToaks

What can you expect to discover?

• How oaks play a vital role in our local landscapes.

• Why those leaves are so important in summer and winter.

• Why we should save our mature oaks.

• Why we should all plant more oaks in our neighborhoods.

Our renowned speaker is Doug Tallamy, the T. A. Baker Professor of Agriculture in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, where he has authored 106 research publications and has taught insect related courses for 41 years. Chief among his research goals is to better understand the many ways insects interact with plants and how such interactions determine the diversity of animal communities. His book Bringing Nature Home was published by Timber Press in 2007, The Living Landscape, co-authored with Rick Darke, was published in 2014; Nature’s Best Hope, a New York Times Best Seller, was released in February 2020, and his latest book The Nature of Oaks was released by Timber press in March 2021. In 2021 he cofounded Homegrown National Park with Michelle Alfandari. His awards include recognition from The Garden Writer’s Association, Audubon, The National Wildlife Federation, The Garden Club of America and The American Horticultural Association.

The presentation by Dr. Tallamy will delight us with a month-by-month look at oak trees, beginning in October. A blue jay will co-star with the oak in this first monthly snapshot. Each season our oak trees play an important role, from helping the tiniest insects survive winter, to protecting our waterways, to feeding and sheltering our winged favorites from butterflies to bluejays. The presentation will conclude with a look at various oak species suitable for planting in a variety of situations.

By the end of the presentation we might just all be tree huggers and oak tree planters!

About this evening’s event partners

Deer Pond Farm – Connecticut Audubon is an 835-acre preserve in Sherman. The Connecticut Audubon society protects Connecticut’s birds, other wildlife, and their habitats through conservation, education, and advocacy.

Northwest Connecticut Land Conservancy is a nonprofit, regional conservation organization working with the communities of Litchfield and northern Fairfield Counties to safeguard natural and working lands, public recreation areas, and drinking water resources forever. Founded in 1965, NCLC is the largest land trust in Connecticut, protecting 13,000 acres (and growing) of vast, connected natural areas. NCLC’s conserved lands include 21 public hiking preserves, 41 working farms, and over 3,000 acres of habitat for rare and endangered species.

Sherman Conservation Commission Our mission is to protect the natural environment of Sherman and all of its resources. The commission’s statutory obligation is to make environmental impact reports on proposed subdivisions, which will be submitted to the Sherman Planning and Zoning Commission.

Sherman Library is a community resource, freely available to all. The library responds to the public’s need for information, education and recreation. With books at its core, the library provides a wide range of materials, both print and non-print. It is the community’s center for lifelong learning. By incorporating new developments in technology the library ensures that its resources are accurate, timely and responsive to those it serves.

August 2022 E-Newsletter

Summer feels like it is winding down, but here at NCLC, we are still going strong. In this newsletter, we share six upcoming events that allow you to connect with friends and nature, from guided hikes to social networking opportunities. In addition, the return of an in-person Annual Picnic on September 24 in Sherman is not to be missed. Click here to read the full newsletter.
In addition, we share a new video, a Midsummer Party update, four recent conservation publications, and employment opportunities here at NCLC.
I hope to have the opportunity to see you at one of our upcoming events. And, as always, please do not hesitate to contact me directly if you have questions about our work or would like to become more involved.
Thank you for your support of the land, conservation, and NCLC.

Spotted: Red-headed Woodpecker

 An NCLC member shared this terrific photo of an adult Red-headed Woodpecker. Red-headed woodpeckers are endangered in the state of Connecticut. It is one of the rarest breeding birds in the state.
What does this woodpecker have in common with squirrels? This bird stashes food. Four of the 23 woodpecker species in North America are known to store food, but only the red-headed woodpecker covers its stash with wood or bark. These birds will stash insects, seeds, and acorns into cracks in trees, fence posts, and even shingles. They are also strong fliers and able to catch insects, like grasshoppers, in flight.
Red-headed woodpeckers breed in deciduous forests of oak or beech and depend on dead or dying trees to build their nests. The decline in Connecticut is due to habitat loss as pasture, woodlots, orchards, and beaver swamps have been lost to development and other land use changes. As a regional land trust, NCLC strives to protect and connect the varied habitats found in our state.
Have you seen a spectacular bird lately? We love to hear reports from members.

NCLC Presents: Wildlife Cameras 101

Connecticut’s woods are full of life. Do you know who your animal neighbors are?
Wildlife cameras offer a fascinating glimpse of animal life. Join us as we look back at NCLC’s best wildlife videos of 2021. Summer Hoogenboom, wildlife biologist and NCLC volunteer, will offer context for the animal behavior displayed in these short clips. Summer will also provide guidance for getting a wildlife camera started in your own backyard.

Video: Make Your Yard a Haven for Birds

Enjoy the songs and colors of birds by creating a yard that will attract and support our feathered friends.  In this event recording, Becca Rodomsky-Bish, of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, shares the vital role native plants play in providing food and shelter for birds.

Becca Rodomsky-Bish is a project leader at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Her areas of expertise include native habitat, sustainability, and education. One of her projects is the Great Backyard Bird Count.

 

March e-news: Exploring Spring with NCLC

After this long winter, there are few things more welcome than the evening chorus of spring peepers.
Land conservation helps protect the special places that spring peepers, and other amphibians, need to survive. But Connecticut is not on track to meet its land conservation goals, and there is an urgent need to accelerate the pace of conservation.
Click  here to read the March e-news and learn about the spring event series.