Past Trips

Some highlights from our past trips!
Some highlights from our past trips!

Come along on an armchair tour as we explore the wilder side of Hanover through the Conservancy’s outdoor trips program.

FALL 2017

CHAPMAN TRAIL DEBUT— 9/10/17- Together with the Chapman Family, Balch Hill Stewardship Committee, friends and neighbors, we gathered to celebrate the opening of a new trail with views of Moose Mountain. The Upper Valley Trails Alliance’s High School Trail Corps did an amazing job this summer laying out this new trail from scratch. Work will continue this winter as we improve the view, clear and burn brush piles, and remove invasive plants. Please consider joining the Chapmans in their challenge to donate $10,000 to the Balch Hill Stewardship Fund!

ANNUAL BALCH HILL HAWK WATCH — 9/23/17Wow- our first-ever hawk watch with NO raptors! Temperatures in the 80s were the most likely culprit, causing many larger animals to rest through the heat of the day. Overall, the fall migration has been fairly late this year, thanks to a steady stream of late-summer weather.

AUDREY McCOLLUM TRAIL DEDICATION — 9/24/17- A group of neighbors, friends and family came together at the Etna Library to celebrate the life and achievements of local environmentalist Audrey McCollum. Thanks to gifts in her memory, generously encouraged by the McCollum family, we were able to fund two important projects in Audrey’s own backyard: the building of a split log wetland bridge in the Trescott Wetlands, and a gift towards the Hudson Farm purchase, now permanently protected by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

HANOVER FALLFEST — Friday, Sept. 29Thank you to FallFest co-sponsors Hanover Parks & Recreation and Hanover Improvement Society for another wonderful community event at Storrs Pond! This event marked the end of our fourth annual Hanover Trails Challenge, with over 70 people participating! Be sure to sign up through Hanover Parks & Rec next summer to get a booklet introducing you to your local trails.

APPALACHIAN TRAIL FAMILY HIKING DAY — 9/30/17 – Chilly, damp weather prevented a good turnout for our second annual hike to celebrate the Appalachian Trail Family Hiking Day. Stay tuned next fall for another great local hike, suitable for all ages!

TRAILS AND ALES!  — 10/12/17 – 6 hikers joined us for a fall foliage walk through the Mink Brook Nature Preserve before heading to Salt hill Pub in Hanover for a free drink. Thank you to our generous co-sponsors at the Pub for supplying drink tickets for all hikers!

SUMMER 2017

STARGAZING AT HAYES FARM PARK –  Dartmouth astronomers Erek Alper and Christine Black led this mesmerizing event in the fields of Hayes Farm Park. We saw major stars and constellations, and got a close look at Saturn before the moon rose and stole the show. Co-sponsored by the Etna Library. Suitable for all ages and abilities. Meet inside the Etna Library before moving outside to the meadow.

 

 

Monarch at Balch HillPOLLINATOR SURVEYS ON BALCH HILL-  Staff and volunteers worked with Sara Zahendra from the Vermont Center for Ecostudies to learn more about our local pollinator populations this summer. Over three afternoons in June, July and August, we used nets to gently catch bees and other pollinators, learned to identify them, then released them back into the meadow. This was a casual survey to help guide our meadow management and mowing schedule; a list of species caught can be found here. Additions to this list, or wildlife lists at our other properties, are always welcome!

HANOVER’S HISTORIC WOLFEBORO ROAD: Two-part series

PART 2, EAST –Sunday, July 16 Our adventure continued on this 1770’s road built for colonial Governor John Wentworth to attend Dartmouth’s first commencements. At Hanover Center’s Parade Ground, historian Ed Chamberlain shared the history of this village, including a few stories about the infamous Stephen Burroughs (Copies of “Memoirs of the Notorious Stephen Burroughs” are available at the Etna Library). 11 brave souls joined us on a challenging, muddy and very fun hike from Hanover Center over Moose Mountain on the historic Wolfeboro Road. Thank you to our co-sponsors, the Etna Library & Hanover Historical Society, as well as Barbara Fildes and Keith Quinton for our tour of a newly restored farmhouse and the incredible example of a one-room schoolhouse.

Background information:

SPRING 2017

STAND UP FOR SCIENCE! – Indoor Program ~ Saturday, April 1- It was impossible not to be inspired by Dr. Anne Kapuscinski’s overview of the work being done by the Union of Concerned Scientists, and energized by her suggestions on the myriad ways to get involved. Why is the defense of science so important? Dr. Kapuscinski, Dartmouth Professor of Sustainability Science and Chair of the UCS Board of Directors, spoke to a clearly passionate crowd at the Howe Library, providing insight and printed research materials to use in both everyday conversations and political advocacy.

QUEEN OF THE SUN – Film ~ Saturday, April 22  – Explore the mysterious world of the beehive in this award-winning documentary. Filmmaker Taggart Siegel takes a profound look at the global bee crisis, weaving an unusual and ultimately uplifting story of beekeepers, scientists and philosophers around the world. Q&A with a local beekeeper, Troy Hall, answered many of our remaining questions on Colony Collapse Disorder and how small-scale apiaries help in the Upper Valley!  Sponsored byLindeMac Real Estate.

MINK BROOK BIRDING  ~ Saturday, April 29  – Look for waterbirds and other spring migrants along Mink Brook, one of the most popular birding spots in New Hampshire! Bring binoculars and, if available, spotting scopes.

GEOLOGY OF THE SOUTH ESKER  – Saturday, April 29  Dartmouth Earth Sciences Professor Carl Renshaw led us on an exciting family-friendly hike back in time to when a mile-thick glacier moved over Hanover, followed by an icy lake. Today, beautiful trails along the Connecticut River take us past the esker left behind. The Town of Hanover will soon be placing a permanent conservation easement to protect this property, popular with neighbors and visitors alike for its easy access to the river.

HUDSON FARM BIRDING  ~ Saturday, May 20 – The open meadow at the newly-protected Hudson Farm attracts grassland-nesting birds you might otherwise not see near Hanover’s large swaths of healthy forest. Several pairs of nesting bobolinks have been spotted in this special spot, now conserved for all to enjoy.

KITE DAY ON BALCH HILL  – Saturday, May 20  More than 75 people of all ages joined us throughout a beautiful afternoon on the Balch Hill summit! Thanks to our sponsor, Red Kite Candy, we had caramels for everyone to enjoy in the sunshine. Several kites landed in the maple, but some well-placed tugs got them all free. Handmade kites from the Hanover Kids After School Time program (KAST) could be seen on several short flights during the brief gusts of wind. We hope you’ll join us next year for this annual family favorite!

FERNS OF MOOSE MOUNTAIN  – Saturday, June 3  A wonderful group of intermediate botanists met at the soon-to-be-conserved Shumway Forest to learn about true ferns, fern allies and even “fern imposters” from our talented guide Alice Schori. Hay-scented, ostrich, lady, New York, interrupted, cinnamon and even royal ferns were spotted on a gentle walk through the upland forest of Moose Mountain. Baneberry, starflowers, Canada mayflowers, foam flowers, lady slippers, clintonia and sasparilla were all seen in full bloom.

HANOVER’S HISTORIC WOLFEBORO ROAD, PART 1- WEST – 41 people joined us at the Howe Library to hear historian Jay Barrett speak about Hanover’s colonial history before embarking on a tour of the historic Wolfeboro Road. Starting at Oak Hill and ending at Dogford Road, the path runs through the newly-opened Trescott Water Supply Lands before public access on the Class 6 road ends on a meadow at Muscle-in-your-arm Farm. Stone walls and huge sugar maples lined much of our path, and cellar holes throughout the route supplied ample stories and questions.

WINTER 2017

Our winter trip series was sponsored by donations in memory of Audrey McCollum, beloved author and conservationist. 

BIRDING CUBA: THE FORBIDDEN ISLAND  1/9/17NH Audubon’s Senior Avian Conservation Biologist Dr. Pamela Hunt shared stories of her recent bird watching exploits  in Cuba, with an historical perspective both natural and cultural. Co-sponsored by the Mascoma Chapter of NH Audubon, this was a wonderful presentation with gorgeous pictures! What a treat to see these gregarious tropical species when the woods up north are so quiet and empty!

BE BEAR SMART!  1/23/17 – Black bears have occupied Hanover, even today’s downtown, since the glacier left. We heard from bear experts Andy Timmins of NH Fish & Game and Nancy Comeau of USDA Wildlife Services on how to remove food temptations from our yards and avoid creating “nuisance bears” in the first place. Chicken coops, bee hives, compost piles and garbage cans will be safe, now that we’ve learned about the most effective ways to protect them! Thank you to the Hanover Conservation Commission for sponsoring this wonderful program. For more information, books and other resources, please stop by the Conservancy office at any point to talk to us!

NORDIC SKI AT MORTON FARM  1/28/17 – Even Morton Farm, which is at a higher elevation and normally has decent snow cover, didn’t have enough for us to head out on skis. Instead, Linde McNamara and Courtney Dragiff led a VIP tour on microspikes for our small group, meandering through equestrian cross-country trails and enjoying the incredible view of Mt. Ascutney from the upper hay field. On this trip we found out that mountain bikes (and fat bikes) are allowed on these trails year-round, but must stop and make way for any horses. Running, snowshoeing and skiing are all allowed and open to the public on this beautiful, secluded property owned by Dartmouth College.

WINTER WILDLIFE AT THE TRESCOTT LANDS 2/11/17 – Local naturalist Alcott Smith led another memorable wildlife tracking trip, this time on the Trescott Water Supply Lands. We saw plenty of deer tracks and signs of browse, and learned how to tell whether a red or gray squirrel nipped the new growth off hemlocks. Did you know that the buds on evergreens contain large amounts of Vitamin C? Many thanks to Conservancy member and renowned photographer Jim Block for coming on the trip and taking some wonderful pictures! You can read more about our trip on Jim’s website.

FAMILY MOONLIGHT SNOWSHOE & BONFIRE ~ CANCELED DUE TO ICY TRAILS –  This annual family favorite, co-sponsored by Hanover Parks & Recreation, was canceled due to this winter’s erratic weather, including icy trails and a tough crossing over  Slade Brook. Please join us next year for this wonderful evening walk and bonfire!

 

ImageWHAT’S HAPPENING TO OUR NATIVE POLLINATORS? ~ 3/9/17– Around the globe and right here in our own backyards, biologists have been buzzing about pollinator decline. From moths to native bumble bees and butterflies, some of these species have already disappeared. Who are the pollinators? Which species are in conservation trouble? What has caused these losses? Join a panel of local biologists who have studied pollinators to learn what the issues are and how we might reverse declining pollinator populations. Taylor Ricketts has examined the crossroads between pollinator decline and economics, and what we can do about it. With the help of corps of citizen scientists, biologists Kent McFarland and Sara Zahendra have studied bumble bee and butterfly populations across Vermont helping to inform land managers and decision-makers. They will discuss the causes and the implications of the decline, and how together we might help keep pollinators working across the landscape into the future. Speakers: Taylor Ricketts, Director of the UVM Gund Institute for Ecological Economics; Kent McFarland and Sara Zahendra, Vermont Center for Ecostudies

This event is sponsored by the Upper Valley Pollinator Partners, a coalition formed to promote awareness of the decline of native pollinators and to inspire actions to reverse this decline. The Hanover Conservancy is proud to be a part of this community-driven project. For more information on the 2017 Pollinator Series, please visit the Town of Hanover’s Biodiversity Committee page.

UPDATE: 130 people attended this incredible kickoff to the Pollinator Series- thank you all for coming and learning more about this community-wide effort!

bh-winterAPPLE TREE PRUNING WORKSHOP~ CANCELED due to -30 degree windchill- Brr!  Our work to reclaim the historic orchard on the Balch Hill summit will continue this summer, but it wouldn’t have been smart to be in the exposed meadow on such a frigid weekend. We hope to see you next time!

THE POWER OF WATER / THE POWER OF WORDS ~ Thursday, March 23rd 7-9 p.m. – What do your rivers mean to you? The Hanover Conservancy and Howe Library will host a lively and informative free public presentation of The Power of Water / The Power of Words.  This joint project of the Connecticut River Watershed Council and Art & Dialogue has been collecting the public’s hopes and dreams for the future of the Connecticut River. Because Wilder Dam and four other hydro facilities that affect the river from Lebanon NH/Wilder VT to Montague, MA  are currently being relicensed, the public has a unique opportunity to have a say in how these facilities will be operated for several generations.

Participants young and old have written personal notes on sculpted pieces of colored paper that are transformed into a massive and inspiring community art installation. Assembled in a flowing wall display, it speaks of the Connecticut River being cleaner and hydropower greener. All of these stories will be submitted as official public comment to the government agencies responsible for relicensing hydroelectric facilities. Read the full press release here.

FAMILY SNOWSHOE TOUR OF HUDSON FARM  -Saturday, March 25Family-friendly trip to explore this soon-to-be protected land and its links to the Appalachian Trail.  We’ll check for wildlife sign and discuss local history as we go. Meet: Trescott Road opposite Partridge Road. Snowshoes available. Leader: Adair Mulligan. Level: Easy.  Please, no dogs.

Thanks to LindeMac Real Estate for sponsoring our Fall 2016 series!

FALL 2016

FOREST ECOLOGY OF THE TRESCOTT LANDS10/15/16 –

Our large group was excited to get onto the beautiful Trescott Water Supply Lands a few weeks after they were once again closed to recreation. The Conservancy received special permission for Dartmouth forest geographer Laura Conkey to lead this trip to some incredible old growth forest parcels. At the end of the visit, the groups split up to explore more of the Water Supply Lands, including multiple cellar holes and some amazing fall views. Thank you to the Trescott Water Company for allowing us all to get out and enjoy this one-of-a-kind property!

ANNUAL HAWK WATCH AT BALCH HILL 10/01/16 –
Despite the rain, 15 birders spotted a peregrine falcon and an osprey from the summit during this bi-annual event. No need for a leader- bring your binoculars and a guidebook to the summit and enjoy the fall migration!
FALLFEST 9/30/16 –
Food, live entertainment, games, demonstrations, crafts for kids and more! This was the last day of the Third Annual Hanover Trails Challenge – folks who brought their completed trail booklet (at least 5 of 7 hikes) entered a raffle for wonderful prizes donated by local businesses like Zimmerman’s The North Face, Picaboo and many more. Co-sponsored with Hanover Parks & Recreation and Hanover Improvement Society, this is an annual favorite!

Enjoying the Velvet Rocks Shelter on the AT
Enjoying the Velvet Rocks Shelter on the AT

AT FAMILY HIKING DAY 9/24/16 – 42 hikers of all ages came out to take part in Appalachian Trail Family Hiking Day! Co-sponsored with Hanover Parks & Recreation, this annual event was created by the wonderful folks at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. Younger hikers completed a nature scavenger hunt on the short but lovely walk up to the Velvet Rocks shelter.

FAMILY BIKE RIDE IN THE TRESCOTT LANDS 9/18/16 – Rain, wind and muggy temps didn’t stop a few riders from going out for an easy bike ride along the old roads in the Trescott Water Supply Lands.

 

 

Thanks to JMH Wealth Management for sponsoring our Spring 2016 series!

view upstSPRING 2016

CONNECTICUT RIVER PADDLE – 6/11/16 – Thirteen paddlers came along for a leisurely trip on New England’s largest river in perfect conditions.  We saw geese and ducks as we dipped into the river’s colorful history and consider the many factors that contribute to its health.  We left Wilson’s Landing and paddled upstream to the confluence of the Ompompanoosuc River, talking about everything from copper mining history in that watershed to water quality and how spring migrants use river shorelands.

Trescott.geocache

YOGA AT BALCH HILL – 6/4/16 Where better to find your center than on     Hanover’s favorite summit? Theresa Mundy of Hanover Yoga led a truly magical session of introductory yoga with a view on the summit of Balch Hill.  The weather was as peaceful and pleasant as the yoga experience. Nine people participated.

GEOCACHING DEMONSTRATION 5/22/16 Geocaching is a high tech treasure hunt for kids and grown-ups alike. Joe Danna taught us the basics including GPS skills, terminology, and more as we navigated to geocaches hidden at the Trescott Water Supply Lands.

SPRING BIRD TRIP5/21/16-  Good birding was had by all at the Storrs Pond Recreation Area. We toured the new Jim Block photo exhibition the Hanover Conservancy’s offices at 71 Lyme Road after we had our fill of birding.

KITE DAY AT BALCH HILL- 5/14/16 We couldn’t have hoped for more fun or a better turnout! The wind was just lusty enough to raise our kites, and over 60 kids of all ages had a joyous and colorful afternoon of kite-flying in the breezes of Balch Hill.   Thanks to our sponsor, Red Kite Candy! See our album of photos on Facebook.

SPRING BIRD TRIP5/7/16 –  Ten folks turned out to help us begin to develop a bird list for the Trescott Water Supply Lands, and located 41 species. Although it was rather quiet in birdsong, the wood thrushes were a treat. The group spotted Bufflehead and a Common Goldeneye on the Parker Reservoir.

Columbine2MOTHER’S DAY WILDFLOWER WALK5/8/16 Despite the showers ending ten minutes before the walk was set to begin and the timid approach of spring, we discovered wildflowers on the vast, newly opened Trescott Water Supply Lands.  Botanist Alice Schori led the group in identifying trillium, violets, trout lily (very few in bloom), golden alexander, a few blue cohosh, wild oats, Canada mayflower, a few jack in the pulpit just emerging, sweet cicely, false Solomon’s seal, Indian poke, hobble bush and shadbush.

 

WINTER 2016

A RING AROUND MILL POND – 3/5/16 – On a beautiful early spring afternoon, twelve eager hikers braved icy trails to follow Kay Shumway for a gentle hike at the newly conserved Mill Pond Forest on Moose Mountain. Kay filled us in on the resident beavers, snug in their lodge, and the history of area trails. A highlight was walking to the base of the early 19th century drylaid stone dam, diligently fortified by the beavers.

WINTER STARGAZING AT HAYES FARM PARK – 2/24/16 – Despite heavy overcast skies that prevented outdoor stargazing, we had a great time and a full group at the Etna Library. With Dartmouth astronomers Erek and Mackenzie,  we learned about winter constellations and how a telescope works, and heard stories about planets, galaxies, and more. Thanks to the Hanover Girl Scouts for turning out for this event, and to the Etna Library for co-sponsoring.

WINTER WILDLIFE AT ALSWELL FARM – 2/7/16 – After hearing about the history of Alswell Farm from its owner/historian, Ed Chamberlain, 20+ of us headed out to explore this conserved farm in Hanover Center with naturalist Alcott Smith. Searching for signs of wildlife in its conserved fields and forest was fruitful despite the dearth of snow cover. We found tracks of grouse, fisher, fox, deer, and raccoon, and learned more about these animals’ habits and habitat than we thought possible, although that’s always the way with Alcott! Jim Block took marvelous photos of the trip.

TUNIS BROOK MILL LOT BY SNOWSHOE – 1/31/16 – An eager group of ten visited the 19th century sawmill site on Tunis Brook in Hanover’s wild northeast corner. We searched for wildlife sign along the way,  led by Courtney Dragiff & Gail McPeek. 

SNOWSHOE TREK THROUGH THE TRESCOTT LANDS –  1/24/2016 – Nearly 60 people, aged 8-80, turned out on a sparkling winter day for our trip to explore the vast lands that provide our community’s drinking water supply, enjoy spectacular views, and learn how forest and recreation management keep the water pure. The Hanover Conservancy has been working with the Trescott Company and its foresters, Hanover DPW, and the Upper Valley Trails Alliance to prepare for opening these long-closed 1,165 acres to responsible recreation. Everyone went home with the property’s very first trail map.  We trekked on the historic Wolfeboro Road past cellar holes and the site of the No. 4 one-room schoolhouse, hearing from forester Jeffrey Smith, cartographer Emily Bryant, UVTA trail designer John Taylor. The group then divided up, with some touring a newly-built trail up to a viewpoint over the reservoirs, and another heading up Knapp Road to interrupt a porcupine having lunch and to enjoy the broad view to Mt. Ascutney.

FALL 2015

geocaching at Lower Slade Brook2015PICNIC WITH A QUEST10/24/2015 –  We had a quiet family walk and picnic by a tumbling waterfall amid beautiful fall foliage at the Jim & Evalyn Hornig Natural Area at Lower Slade Brook while pursuing a quest. Thanks to leader Gail McPeek!

EVERYONE IS READING: FAMILY-FRIENDLY HIKE – 10/3/2015 – Everybody’s reading Bill Bryson’s book—or seeing the movie—so we went for a walk in the woods, too! A group of seven explored the Appalachian Trail connection from trails at the 113-acre Greensboro Ridge Natural Area with leader Gail McPeek and our co-sponsor, Megan Coleman from the Howe Library.

FALLFEST – 10/2/2015 – Families hovered around our booth at Storrs Pond as the kids colored their own bandannas. The afternoon included food, live entertainment, games, demonstrations, and crafts for kids. Ten families who brought their completed Hanover Trails Challenge booklet won raffle prizes donated by local businesses Morano Gelato, Zimmerman North Face, Boloco, Ramonto’s, Nugget Theater, Umpleby’s, and Lou’s Bakery. Sponsored by the Hanover Parks & Recreation Dept. & Hanover Improvement Society.

ANNUAL HAWK WATCH AT BALCH HILL –9/26/15 – With gorgeous blue skies, gentle breezes and scenic views, 14 participants enjoyed the Hanover Conservancy’s annual fall hawk watch even though the birds were sparse.  Observations included a far-off immature Bald Eagle, one Osprey, two Turkey Vultures, three Sharp-shinned Hawks and a Merlin.  The Merlin was sighted along with one of the Sharpies and the two put on quite a show, coming together numerous times as they made their way over Balch Hill.  It was a great opportunity to compare important distinguishing features. Thank you to leader David Merker and all the participants who joined us.

GEOCACHING DEMONSTRATION – 9/12/2015 Geocaching afficionado and Hanover Conservancy volunteer Joe Danna led a young family on a high tech treasure hunt at the Lower Slade Brook Natural Area on a beautiful early fall day.  We learned the history and basics of geocaching, including GPS skills, terminology, and more as we navigated to two geocaches hidden at the Natural Area.

10TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION ~ Jim & Evalyn Hornig Natural Area at Lower Slade Brook8/30/2015 – 40 people, aged 8 months to 80+, helped us celebrate our community’s good fortune in protecting this 35-acre natural area. Ten years ago, this beautiful forested brook was to be surrounded by a residential subdivision. Guided by aquatic science professionals, children investigated brook life from crayfish to sculpins to water striders, while adults took a guided tour.  Photos here.

SPRING 2015

HIKING THE TOWN LINE TO RIX LEDGES AND BEYOND6/21/2015 An adventurous group of nine joined us on Father’s Day for a rugged hike in the surprisingly wild territory along the Hanover/Lebanon line, where ledges, streams, bogs, and forest offer a habitat smorgasbord for birds and wildlifeNaturalist Alcott Smith was, as usual, a bottomless pit of information and knowledge.

TRAILS DAY HIKE – MOOSE MOUNTAIN – 6/6/2015 – A group of six explored the Ridge Trail on Moose Mountain, hiking to ledges with grand views east to Cardigan and west to Killington on this trip co-sponsored by the Hanover Conservancy and Hanover Conservation Commission. The weather started off cloudy but happily cleared by the time we reached the ledges. We arranged for aerial photographs of this adventure, and look forward to sharing them.

GEO-CACHING DEMONSTRATION5/31/2015 Really wretched weather kept this trip from going off as planned, and we hope to offer it in the fall.  Geocaching is a high tech treasure hunt for grown-ups and children alike. 

SPRING BIRD TRIP – Mill Pond Forest – 5/16/15 – Despite the drizzle, a great group appeared to help us create a bird list for the soon-to-be-conserved Mill Pond Forest, including some kids who have a good future as birders, it appears.

KITE DAY AT BALCH HILL5/16/15Families enjoyed a joyous and colorful afternoon of kite-flying at Balch Hill – the skies cleared just in time, and despite lackluster breezes, some people managed to get their kites up impressively high – including one Balch Hill neighbor who played out a half mile of line! Thanks to the Balch Hill Stewardship Committee for hosting the event, and to our sponsor, Red Kite Candy!

MOTHER’S DAY WILDFLOWER WALK 5/10/2015 – Led by botanist Alice Schori, we searched for spring wildflowers, club-mosses, and unfurling ferns at the Mill Pond Forest on Moose Mountain. We found trout lilies in abundance and many others. Our citizen scientists helped us develop a plant list for this 33-acre forest at the headwaters of Mink Brook.

SPRING BIRD TRIPS – Balch Hill Natural Area – 5/2,  King Bird Sanctuary, Hayes Farm Park, 5/9

A WALK BACK IN TIME: The Secrets of Cellar Holes 4/25/15 – After an indoor program attended by some 65 people, we headed out to the vast Trescott Company lands, source of Hanover’s public water supply. We walked through the gate and down the historic road full of reminders of past lives: stone walls, old foundations, and wells that once served busy farms.  We visited the sites of a one-room school, the Mason Farm, and the town Poor Farm, and were treated to sights of a flock of turkeys and an unconcerned porcupine, as well as the dramatic view from the top of Prospect Hill. Co-sponsored by the NH Humanities Council, Howe Library & Hanover Historical Society.

WINTER 2015group3Chivers

APPLE TREE PRUNING WORKSHOP – 3/7/2015 – It was a beautiful day for wrestling apple trees, and a good group gathered to learn the fine points of fruit tree pruning and help us reclaim the historic orchard on Balch Hill. Thanks to leader Len Cadwallader and Master Gardener Anne Evans.

WILDLIFE TRACKING ON MOOSE MOUNTAIN  – 2/21/15 – After a welcome cup of hot cocoa and warm gingerbread on a frosty morning, twenty intrepid adventurers set out on  snowshoes to find signs of wildlife on Moose Mountain. Naturalist Alcott Smith led us up through the beaver dams at the outlet of Mill Pond to see a large tree half-gnawed by beavers, before we crossed the frozen pond and headed up into the Dana Forest and Pasture Lot to discover how various mammals move through the deep snow. After enjoying the expansive views at a rocky knob, we returned to the old pasture and then back to the woods, where we surprised a porcupine bundled up inside his den. See photos here.

FOREST MANAGEMENT AT HUNTINGTON HILL – 2/7/2015 – Forester Jeff Smith of Butternut Forestry and Grafton County Extension Forester Dave Falkenham led our group of 12 on a snowshoe tour of this extensive wildlife management area, permanently protected by a conservation easement held by the NH Fish and Game Department, to see how habitat is being managed. The tour covered four different areas on the south side of Goodfellow Road, illustrating selective cutting regimes, patch cuts, and thinning of a red pine stand.   We learned about the management plan which balances timber harvest (for revenue), wildlife management objectives, and public recreation with the landowner’s goals for the property. Handouts were provided to illustrate the habitat goals, along with a trail map of the Huntington Hill property. The fresh powder was fun, too!

MOONLIGHT SNOWSHOE & BONFIRE – 1/31/2015 – On a clear and cold brightly moonlit evening, a hardy group of 8 bundled up to prowl the Slade Brook watershed, enjoying Vermont views, before gathering for a welcome mug of hot cocoa. One participant exclaimed, “this is something I’ve wanted to do for ten years. It was just exquisite, and I plan to go next year!”

WINTER WALK AT STORRS FARM – 1/25/2015 – On a bright and sunny day, 45 people joined us for a walking tour of this historic Etna farm with its meadows, meandering brook, and stone walls. Here, conservation, agriculture, and community come together. Owner Tim Bent recounted tales and history of ages past and the generations who farmed this land. Thanks to the Hanover Historical Society for co-sponsoring this event, and to Hanover’s Senior Planner, Vicki Smith, for sharing maps for our Storrs Farm handout.

FALL 2014

THE ABENAKI AT MOSBASAK ZIBOSIS (MINK BROOK) – 11/9/2014 – The Mink Brook Nature Preserve was protected partly for its significance to the Abenaki people, who have centuries of association with this remarkable place. John Moody of the Winter Center for Indigenous Traditions relayed some of their stories and shared a different point of view about this land, introducing 23 of us to “stone people” and brown or basket ash. We had a great group, ranging in age from three to 80. John illustrated the role of the blue jay in attending to family and child issues when the bird squawked overhead as a child slipped from a rock. All was well, and the blue jay retreated to his perch, considering his job well done.

white-ledges-cropGEOLOGY OF MOOSE MOUNTAIN ~ Mayor-Niles Forest – 10/26 – A hardy group of 25 headed up the tote road and through the Mayor-Niles Forest with Carl Renshaw, Dartmouth Earth Sciences Professor & Hanover Conservancy board member. Carl explained that the mountain’s geology is difficult to see “under all this biology” (the forest) but led us to the “white ledges,” an outcropping of erosion-resistant quartzite that forms the spine of Moose Mountain. Carl’s stories included plate tectonics, New Hampshire as “The Arsenic State” and the inclusion of tiny garnets in the Littleton Formation that hint to the former presence of the highest mountains in the world, right here.

ANNUAL HAWK WATCH AT BALCH HILL – 9/20/14 – 15 folks had a good time behind their binoculars despite the overcast skies and uncooperative migration conditions. We saw two hawks on their migration south and enjoyed the view from the summit.

SPRING 2014

Kite Day 2014
Kite Day 2014

AFTERNOON AT ALSWELL FARM – 6/15/14 A hearty group joined us on Father’s Day to explore this lovely historic Hanover Center farm, our town’s newest conserved property.  Meadows, streams, wetlands, and forest offer a habitat smorgasbord for birds and wildlife. We learned the inside story of the farm’s place in local history from owner Ed Chamberlain.

BIRD-BANDING DEMONSTRATION – 5/31/14 – A lucky group of 10 witnessed the magic of observing a bird up close and personal as it receives identifying “jewelry” from a dedicated expert, David Merker. We learned the reasons behind bird-banding and the careful techniques employed in handling these fragile creatures. Seven species were caught and banded during the demonstration, and then carefully released.

KITE DAY AT BALCH HILL -5/17/14 – Over 60 people brought their kites and kids for a joyous and colorful aRed Kite Candyfternoon of kite-flying in the breezes of Balch Hill.  This annual favorite is always great family fun. Thanks to our sponsor, Red Kite Candy!

MOTHER’S DAY WILDFLOWER WALK  – 5/11/14Spring was late this year, but with the help of expert botanist Alice Schori, 24 people discovered spring wildflowers, club-mosses, and unfurling ferns at the Greensboro Ridge Natural Area, learning to spot these ephemeral beauties even before they burst into bloom.

CONNECTICUT RIVER BIRDING – 4/19/2014 – Two dozen birders braved chilly conditions under mainly overcast skies on this morning’s bird walk co-sponsored by Mascoma Chapter of New Hampshire Audubon, the Hanover Conservancy, and the Upper Valley Land Trust. Coverage extended from Hanover northward along the Connecticut River to Grant Brook in Lyme, NH. The river was running high, though down slightly from a recent peak, and an ice cover over the water was still present in some spots tucked in along the borders of the river. Among the 39 bird species encountered, the waterbirds were among the fairly recent arrivals, the river having been ice-covered earlier in this month.  Ruby-crowned Kinglets were among the most conspicuous of the migrating land birds. It was a nice early spring treat to hear the cadence of sapsuckers and the iconic song of the White-throated Sparrow.

WINTER 2014

groupMAYOR-NILES FOREST WILDLIFE IN WINTER ~2/23/14 – Under perfect snowshoe trekking conditions, an intrepid group of 15 followed naturalist Alcott Smith for a close brush with wildlife in our newly conserved forest and on the north peak of Moose Mountain in the wild northeastern corner of Hanover. Among our finds was a fresh fisher kill of a porcupine and an up-close-and-personal look at the porky’s impressive dentition and armaments. We also spotted a number of bear “nests” in beech trees and traversed the wind-swept snow dunes left on the summit by a recent nor-easter. Words of the day included “porcupette,” “sapsicle,” and “albedo.” After a steep and exciting descent from an outcrop offering a gorgeous view into central Vermont, we warmed up with hot chocolate at the home of neighbor Linde McNamara.  View slide shows of our trip here.

MOONLIGHT SNOWSHOE & BONFIRE  ~2/8/14 –A small but happy group had a great time prowling the Slade Brook watershed by moonlight and enjoying Vermont views.

SNOWSHOE HIKE ON OLD HIGHWAY 38 ~ 2/1/14 – Sixteen people enjoyed a fun and easy hike on a beautiful sunny day from Greensboro Road up to the Hudson Farm. While the snow cover was thin, it was just the right consistency to display distinct wildlife tracks. We talked a bit about the history of the Class VI road, which once saw horse and buggy traffic traveling between Greensboro and Trescott Roads. Many of the participants did not know that it is now a public trail. Everybody enjoyed the great views of Mt. Ascutney and nearer hills from the meadows at the Hudson Farm. Participants took home a brand new map of the trails in the neighborhood.

PINE PARK BY SNOWSHOE 1/25/14 – We explored the beautiful trail network on Hanover’s oldest conservation property and visited the site of an early rope ferry across the Connecticut River. Participants took home a new trail map of Pine Park created for the event. Girl Brook meets the river here; we discussed erosion problems and the challenge of the brook’s partly developed watershed.

FALL 2013

DARTMOUTH ORGANIC FARM – 11/3/13 – A group of ten explored the fertile floodplain farmland, barn, and a broad river terrace along the Connecticut with Dartmouth Biological Sciences Professor and Hanover Conservancy board member Tom Jack and Dartmouth Geography Professor Laura Conkey. We discussed floodplain geology and the history of the farm, and walked up the old river terrace to view the esker. Several took a side trip into a forested wetland to see a stand of black ash.

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A WALK BACK IN TIME: The Secrets of Cellar Holes – 10/20/13 – We had an enthusiastic group of 53 trekkers for our program on history and land use that began with an indoor presentation by Adair Mulligan at Trumbull Hall. After enjoying wonderful treats, we carpooled to explore cellar holes on the Trescott Company lands of the community’s drinking water supply watershed. Under brilliant late-October skies, we enjoyed an easy walk inside the now-gated property up Knapp Road, (now Class VI) past the reservoir to “the Four Corners” – the site of a one-room schoolhouse and the  prosperous Mason farm.  Thanks to our co-sponsors, the Etna Library, Hanover Historical Society & NH Humanities Council, and to the Trescott Company (composed of the Town and Dartmouth College) for permission to visit the Trescott lands.

Connecticut River cleanup

CONNECTICUT RIVER CLEAN-UP -10/5/13 – We were treated to a beautiful paddle up a river of glass reflecting fall colors as we patrolled the Connecticut River shoreline for the Connecticut River Watershed Council’s annual Source to Sea clean-up.  We paddled about a mile upstream to explore the mouth of Slade Brook, before heading back to collect trash we had spotted along the way. The haul included parts of old docks, damaged flotation barrels, iron pipes, a full bag of discarded plastic bottles, and one expired magnolia warbler we found floating.

RESTORATION CELEBRATION AT BALCH HILL – 9/29/13 – Two dozen Balch Hill afficionadoes turned out for a tour with our forester to learn about our project to improve wildlife habitat and restore the hill’s historic agricultural landscape. The project benefited from the support and help of Balch Hill friends and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.  Forester Ben Hudson & Gail McPeek led the group.

ANNUAL HAWK WATCH AT BALCH HILL SUMMIT – 9/21/13 – A congenial group of 25 gathered on the summit to usher the hawks on their migration south and enjoyed the view. It was a beautiful day, although the south wind didn’t encourage too many birds to head in our direction. Nevertheless, we had a good look at a peregrine falcon, and also saw a broadwing, sharp-shinned hawk, and osprey. Thanks to leaders David Merker & Gail McPeek for guiding an enjoyable trip.

SPRING 2013

Visiting a vernal pool

GEOLOGY OF THE SOUTH ESKER – 6/16/2013  – Twenty-five people of all ages hiked back in time with us through a towering riverside forest at the South Esker. Beautiful trails along the Connecticut River took us past the esker left when a mile-thick glacier moved over Hanover followed by an icy lake.  The trip was ably led by Dartmouth Earth Sciences Professor and Hanover Conservancy Board member Carl Renshaw. Carl will share his maps and other information on this site at a later date.

MOTHER’S DAY WILDFLOWER WALK  -5/12/13Fifteen engaged and knowledgeable walkers discovered trillium, jack in the pulpit, and other spring wildflowers, club-mosses, and unfurling ferns on the wild McKinley Tract in northeast Hanover. Thanks to our leader, botanist Alice Schori.

KITE DAY AT BALCH HILL -5/11/13 – Despite threatening skies, several families brought their kites and kids for a colorful afternoon of kite-flying in the breezes of Balch Hill.  One kite is on its way to Vermont, but the rest survived. All seemed to enjoy the expanded views, thanks to the Balch Hill Stewardship Committee’s work.

VERNAL POOLS AT GREENSBORO RIDGE – 5/5/13 – Who’s stirring in those mysterious woodland waters in spring? Greensboro Ridge Natural Area has plenty of wildlife and some like it wet.  Led by Dartmouth Biology Professor Mark McPeek, a group of about 20 visited several vernal pools on this 113-acre conserved property and found that they were “hopping” with wood frog and salamander eggs, among other amphibians.

CONNECTICUT RIVER WATERFOWL & SPRING MIGRANTS – 4/20/13 – Leaders Art Mudge & George Clark steered 21 participants upriver to find a good variety of waterfowl and other spring migrants – 46 species in all! – on this trip co-sponsored by the Mascoma Chapter of NH Audubon, the Hanover Conservancy, and Upper Valley Land Trust. Beginning at Wilson’s Landing, they made several stops on the NH side, ending at Grant Brook in Lyme.  Among highlights were extended soaring by a Double-crested Cormorant, good views of an adult Bald Eagle, a Spotted Sandpiper in its nice-looking spring garb, several Ruby-crowned Kinglets singing loudly, an even louder Louisiana Waterthrush singing at Grant Brook, and a Field Sparrow at Grant Brook. Non-avian finds included a spotted salamander and a red eft.

WINTER 2013

WORKING THE WOODS ON THE WATER COMPANY LANDS ~ 3/2/13Thirty of the curious joined us for a special members-only trip behind the fence guarding Hanover’s public water supply to learn how foresters guide tree growth and protect water quality on these sensitive lands. Foresters John O’Brien and Jeff Smith explained how foresters guide tree growth and protect water quality on these sensitive lands.  After a good look at 100-year-old maps of the property, we visited majestic four-foot-thick white pines and red oaks on the western side of this major land holding, including two trees where generations of porcupines have made their homes.

Forester John O’Brien inspects a massive porcupine den tree

Jeff Smith demonstrated the tools a forester uses in evaluating a stand of trees, and woodsman Bernie Corrette displayed his skill with a scaler and chainsaw in working up a pile of recently harvested red pines. A focus of the morning’s trip was understanding how the watershed’s forests are being guided to a more natural, diversified community and away from the plantation-style, even-aged forest of the past. The foresters are reluctantly returning to plantations in places where invasive glossy buckthorn is threatening the quality of future forests here. The visit ended with a visit to “the four corners” – where the old Wolfeboro and Knapp Roads crossed at a former settlement – to see the site of the one-room schoolhouse and the Mason Farm’s cellarholes, now criss-crossed with turkey tracks. Many thanks to foresters John O’Brien and Jeff Smith and to the Trescott Water Company board for allowing us to make this special trip.

View a slide show of the morning’s discoveries by Jim Block.

Tracking near Tunis Brook with Alcott Smith

 

TUNIS BROOK WILDLIFE IN WINTER ~ 2/16/13 – Twenty-six eager trackers trekked into the Tunis Brook Mill Lot by snowshoe to find signs of wildlife around this historic spot in the wild northeast corner of Hanover. This was a real adventure with Alcott Smith, who is well-known for his energetic and in-depth interpretation of wildlife sign in the woods.  We began at Goose Pond Road at the junction with Tunis Road (Class VI), 4.5 miles from Route 10. After a short detour on the new bicycle trail on the Town Forest, we headed south up Tunis Road to the site of an old cellar hole (whose location does not appear on either the 1855 or 1892 map of Hanover). After discovering signs of recent ruffed grouse, snowshoe hare, and moose activity, we struck off into the Tunis Brook watershed, finding a prime porcupine den and much more before reaching our Tunis Brook Mill Lot. Photo album of the day’s adventure. 

Snowshoe Hike to DOC Cabin ~ 2/9/13 – Bravely striking out during the tail end of the “Blizzard of 2013,” Nancy Collier and Linde McNamara led an expedition to explore trails on the west slopes of Moose Mountain. After hiking a mile in to Dartmouth’s Class of ’66 Cabin, tucked away in the woods, the group enjoyed a tour and hot chocolate at the cabin.   Read an entertaining account of the building of the cabin, (excerpted from the 2009 edition of D.O.C’s Woodsmoke) posted here with permission of the author. Click here for aerial photo with our route indicated.

At Morton Farm; Ascutney view

Summit Lord’s Hill ~ 2/2/2013 – Lise Richardson led an intrepid group of 8 as we explored the rolling fields and forests of the Richardson farm and adjoining portions of Lord’s Hill. A light dusting of snow covered the ground. Superlative views of Mt. Ascutney and dramatic stone walls near the summit were an especial treat. It was a privilege to roam on private lands and trails in this wild part of Hanover encircled by Dogford Road.

Nordic Ski at Morton Farm ~ 1/26/13 – A dozen skiers enjoyed a sparkling winter morning exploring the fields and woods of the Morton Farm with Director Sally Batton and the Conservancy’s Adair Mulligan and Courtney Dragiff.  The Morton Farm, home of the Dartmouth Riding Center, is located on Laramie Road in Etna. The trails wind through nearly 200 acres of woods & open fields and offer spectacular views of Mt. Ascutney. The College welcomes the public (without dogs) on the property for hiking, skiing, and snowshoeing.

Moonlight Snowshoe & Bonfire  ~ 1/19/13 –Led by Hugh Mellert, 22 eager snowshoers prowled the Slade Brook watershed by the light of a shy moon, then gathered around a bonfire for hot cocoa and more. We had a great outing and even some moonshine through the hazy clouds once we got to the top.  Hugh is a great leader with great stories to share and the hot dogs, hot chocolate and bonfire at the end are a big hit. A number of participants appreciated borrowing from our supply of snowshoes and poles.

FALL 2012

NE Hanover & conserved lands

Find the Town Forest Bike & Hike – 10/27/12 – We had a beautiful afternoon exploring Hanover’s remote northeast corner on foot and mountain bike. Our group of eight, led by Nancy Collier & Kevin O’Leary, rode the Class VI Tunis Road and hiked the bike trails currently being built in the Town Forest by the Upper Valley Mountain Bike Association.  People really enjoyed the cellar hole at the Tunis Brook crossing and the stone culvert that the brook flows through.  The group decided to ride out Wolfeboro Rd and Goose Pond Rd to make a loop back to the cars. We then hiked the mountain bike trail up about 3/4 mile. Kevin gave a good description of their work and plans. Volunteers have laid out these trails under the supervision of the Hanover Conservation Commission; the trails are partially built and while they’re not yet ready for riding, they make great hiking.  Photographer Jim Block came along for the ride; here’s a link to his photos. Download a map of the new bike trail and conserved lands in NE Hanover.

Tour of Trescott Water Company Lands  –  10/20/12 – On a gorgeous fall afternoon, 30 enthusiastic trekkers toured a fascinating part of Hanover hidden behind the fence protecting the town’s water supply, on a special members-only excursion. Foresters John O’Brien and Jeffrey Smith explained the challenges of managing this critical land and showed us the historic site of the town poor farm, spectacular views of Mt. Ascutney, and rare old growth forest protected in one of several “legacy” sites on the property. The land is owned by the Trescott Water Company, of which the Town of Hanover and Dartmouth College own equal shares. Photographer Jim Block was along, and has shared his beautiful photos.

Insider’s View from Lord’s Hill – 10/14/12 – Lise Richardson led a stimulating walking tour of private lands on and around Lord’s Hill just west of Hanover Center, including parts of the historic Nutt Farm. A group of six enjoyed the lovely changes of forest types on the way to the 1500-foot summit and its beautiful views, despite the light mist.

Hike Historic Cory Road – 10/6/12 – Amid the fall foliage, leaders Gail McPeek and Hugh Mellert led an enthusiastic group of 14 on exploration of an early town road (now Class VI), the cellar hole of an early farmstead, and a rare historic stone bridge with neighbors who know Hanover Center history. Thanks to our co-sponsors, the Hanover Historical Society.

Secrets of Greensboro Ridge – 9/29/12 – Despite the rain, a small but adventurous group headed off-trail to visit hidden grottoes and other mysteries of the Greensboro Ridge Natural Area that offer unusual habitat for the preserve’s wildlife.  Then we hiked down the new Greensboro Highlands Trail for the insiders’ story of how the trail was built and the special natural features it reveals.

Annual Hawk Watch at Balch Hill Summit – 9/22/12 – Migrating raptors were few and far between, but beautiful views, blue skies and great conversation about birds and hawk migration made for a wonderful outing.  Twenty-one people joined leaders David Merker and Gail McPeek, along with one porcupine which spent 15 minutes grazing on milkweed in the meadow.  We saw the following winging their way south: American Kestrel (1), Sharp-shinned Hawk (1), Broad-winged Hawk (1), Osprey (2), Turkey Vulture (6), plus crows, blue jays and flickers on the move and many monarch butterflies.

SPRING 2012

Back in Time on Tunis Brook ~ 6/10/12 – Over 40 people joined the Hanover Conservancy and Hanover Historical Society on a gorgeous day to explore Hanover’s history in the remote northeast corner of town, with a look at how natural resources – woods and waters – shaped human history here.We began with a visit to the Tunis Schoolhouse, a lovingly restored 1822 one-room school. Owner Barbara Fildes shared the history of the area and her award-winning efforts to restore the building. We then visited two early burying grounds, the Tunis and Goose Pond cemeteries. The afternoon ended with a hike to the beautiful forest sheltering the site of an early sawmill on tiny Tunis Brook, protected by the Hanover Conservancy.

Landscaping for Wildlife ~ 5/31 – Jim Kennedy, NH Coverts Cooperator and Wetland Scientist gave a well-illustrated program on landscaping with native plants to benefit wildlife to a group of 14 at the Etna Library. Several in the group had not previously visited the historic library, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. We then headed out under blue skies for a gentle to moderate walk up through the Hayes Farm Park to the new Nan & Allen King Bird Sanctuaryto tour blooming wildlife plantings and enjoy views over the Mink Brook valley of Etna, led by Executive Director Adair Mulligan.

Mother’s Day on Moose Mountain

Mother’s Day Wildflower Walk ~ 5/13/2012~ Leaders Alice Schori and Gail McPeek led us on another remarkable botanical meander on the Orange Trail on Moose Mountain. We observed:  Goldthread, Wild Strawberry, Cinquefoil, Partridgeberry, Clintonia, Canada Mayflower, Red Trillium, Trout Lily, Violets (white, two varieties of purple), Foamflower, Skunk Currant, Jack-in-the-pulpit, Spring Beauty, Wild Oats, Solomon’s-Seal, False Solomon’s Seal, False Hellebore (Indian Poke), Starflower, Wild Lettuce (various), Bloodroot, Sweet Cicely, Golden Alexanders, Baneberry, Bedstraw, Avens ?, Solidago spp., Aster spp., Lowbush blueberry, Hobblebush,  Lycopodiums, ferns, and club mosses.

Saturday Bird Trip – Trescott Saddle to Berrill Farms ~  5/26/2012– David Merker and Gail McPeek led a walk from Trescott Rd (AT parking area) south on the AT to the Hudson Farm fields behind Berrill Farms on Greensboro Road and then north to Trescott Road looping back to Old Highway 38. It was a great morning for Bobolinks and Savannah sparrows, indigo buntings and 37 other species.

Birds seen: Wild Turkey, Mourning Dove, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Pileated Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Hairy Woodpecker, Great crested Flycatcher, Eastern Phoebe, Eastern Wood Pewee, Tree Swallow, Barn Swallow, Blue Jay, American Crow, Black-capped Chickadee, Brown Creeper, House Wren, Winter Wren, Gray Catbird, American Robin, Wood Thrush, Veery, Eastern Bluebird, Cedar Waxwing, Blue-headed Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, Black-and-white Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Northern Parula, Blackburnian Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Ovenbird, Common Yellowthroat, Bobolink, Brown-headed Cowbird, Indigo Bunting, American Goldfinch, Savannah Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Song Sparrow. Also a probably Broad-winged Hawk .

Saturday Bird Trip – Mink Brook Nature Preserve ~  4/28/2012– Despite a very chilly morning (with even a few snow flakes) our birding group, led by George Clark, recorded 26 species  (list below).  When the sun did finally shine through we witnessed the immediate onset of song by birds that were silent beforehand.  We had nice views of Brown Creepers, Yellow-rumped Warblers, and a Blue-headed Vireo.  A pair of White-breasted Nuthatches nesting in a box along Mink Brook was a treat.  We hoped to spot the black bear female and her 3 cubs, but no luck.

Birds seen: Canada Goose, Mallard (several pairs), Wood Duck (several pairs), Mourning Dove, Belted Kingfisher, Hairy or Downy Woodpecker, American Crow, Blue Jay, Black-capped Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, House Wren, Winter Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Blue-headed Vireo, American Robin, Black-and-white Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Pine Warbler, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, Northern Cardinal, American Goldfinch, Chipping Sparrow, Song Sparrow.

Spring Migrants Along the Connecticut River ~ 4/21/21 – Under remarkably bright skies this morning, 21 birders participated in a walk cosponsored by Mascoma Chapter of New Hampshire Audubon, Hanover Conservancy, and the Upper Valley Land Trust. Starting from the parking lot of the Dartmouth Printing Company in Hanover, NH, we went to Wilson’s Landing in Hanover and then north along River Road with stops in Hanover and Lyme until we reached Grant Brook where we made a loop walk through the preserve.

Among 35 species found, presumed relatively recent arrivals included a Broad-winged Hawk by Grant Brook, a singing House Wren investigating potential nest boxes along River Road, at least 2 singing Hermit Thrushes, several singing Yellow-rumped Warblers, at least 5 singing Louisiana Waterthrushes, and a number of Chipping Sparrows, at least some of which were also singing.

Other species included Canada Goose, Wood Duck, Mallard, Hooded Merganser, Ruffed Grouse, Mourning Dove, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Hairy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, Eastern Phoebe, Blue Jay, American Crow, Tree Swallow, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Eastern Bluebird, American Robin, Pine Warbler, Northern Cardinal, Song Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, Brown-headed Cowbird, Purple Finch, Pine Siskin, and American Goldfinch.
Special thanks to Dartmouth Printing Company for providing use of their parking lot. ~ George Clark, Norwich, VT

WINTER 2012

Ray School Family Snowshoe Walk ~ 3/10/12 – Mother Nature played “chicken” with our trip plans! Bare ground mixed with ice prompted us to cancel the trip the day before, but a surprise snowstorm that night brought eight inches to the trip leader’s home a few miles north, and the trip was back on. Imagine our surprise to find only one inch of new snow on the ground at the Ray School. That didn’t stop two families, including a group of geography scholars visiting Dartmouth from China, from enjoying the trails with us on a beautiful fresh day.
Moonlight Snowshoe & Bonfire~ 3/3/12 – Skies cleared for a beautiful, bright moonlit, starlit prowl of the Slade Brook watershed, led by Hugh Mellert. Eight adventurers wandered the woods guided by the waxing, gibbous moon, then gathered around a bonfire for hot cocoa, cider, and more.
Marshall Brook Wetlands~ 2/25/12 – A hardy group of 13 explored this extensive wild area in the northeast corner of Hanover, in search of wildlife sign and the special ecological features that led to the Town’s acquisition of this land with the Conservancy’s help in 1977. Naturalist Alcott Smith led the group to discover fresh bobcat tracks in the previous night’s snowfall, plus a mansion of a beaver lodge and many other signs of wildlife activity. View a slideshow of our trip here.
Winter Wonderland Walk and Storytime~ 2/1/12 – A small group explored the rolling hills of the King Bird Sanctuary at Hayes Farm Park to look for signs of wildlife, then headed back to the library for a winter wildlife story, hot chocolate, and cookies. Tracks of deer, fox, turkey, squirrels, and hare were evident, and the size of one set of tracks suggested that a moose had recently visited the Trescott Wetlands behind the sanctuary. The previous day, a flock of 50 robins had visited the open hillsides of Hayes Farm Park.
Snowshoe Hike at Balch Hill~ 1/21/12 – An eager group of nine explored the Balch Hill Natural Area on snowshoes with leaders Rob Harris and Gail McPeek. Rob led us up the Fire Trail to the summit; we had some views but it was overcast.  From there we went down Grasse Trail to Hunter East, then Garipay and Maple Trails and back to the summit. We finished with the Hemlock Trail so we could see the “grand ole oak. “

FALL 2011

Back in Time on the Banks of Mink Brook, 11/5/11 –Thirty of the curious joined historian Jay Barrett to hear about the history of the Mink Brook Nature Preserve. Today the forested home of bears and wild trout, yesterday a mill stream flowing through dairy pasture, the Mink Brook Nature Preserve is a living library of land use history. After a gentle walk along both sides of the brook, a smaller, hardy group continued for a moderate scramble off-trail to the height of land on the southern part of the preserve.
Hawk Watch at Balch Hill 10/2/11-
Sunny skies and northwest winds unfortunately did not coincide with the first weekend in October, and most migrating raptors were waiting for better conditions before cruising over Balch Hill. A hardy group did keep watch from the summit with leader David Merker, and were rewarded with a glimpse of one.
Autumn Walk at Slade Brook, 10/9/11 – Ten people enjoyed the beautiful glade at Slade Brook. Leader Hugh Mellert straddled the stream to talk about the history of this property and our hopes for future conservation work in its watershed.
Tour of Rinker-Steele Natural Area, 10/16/11 – Vicki Smith, Senior Planner for the Town of Hanover, lead a group to explore the dramatic topography and intriguing old growth forest on the bed of an ancient glacial lake. Vicki related the Town’s plans for its newest conservation property. Several participants had lived near this interesting place for years, and took advantage of this opportunity to get to know it. Joining the group were a photographer and reporter from the Valley News, who surprised us with front page coverage the following morning.
Geology of Greensboro Ridge, 10/23/11 – A large and enthusiastic group of 22 followed geologist Carl Renshaw through the Greensboro Ridge Natural Area, viewing displays the Connecticut River valley’s fascinating geologic history. Carl’s research has led to imagery of glacial Lake Hitchcock.
A New Forest & Habitat Plan for Balch Hill, 10/29/11 – Balch Hill friends and neighbors enjoyed forester Ben Hudson’s presentation on new plans to benefit wildlife and restore views. Thanks to Dr. Greg Baker for hosting the indoor program at the top of Hemlock Road. From there, Ben led a field session to show where various habitat improvements could be made.
Back in Time on the Banks of Mink Brook, 11/5/11 –Today the forested home of bears and wild trout, yesterday a mill stream flowing through dairy pasture, the Mink Brook Nature Preserve is a living library of land use history. Over 30 people joined us to hear historian Jay Barrett as he revisited the open farmland of his childhood and described the land’s 18th century role in attracting Dartmouth College to Hanover. Following a walk along the brook, a smaller group followed Jay on a moderate scramble off-trail to a ledge on the southern part of the preserve.

Spring, 2011

In the Footsteps of the Abenaki at Slade Brook, 6/25/11 – A group of 14 explored Native traditions and history at the Hornig Natural Area at Slade Brook with John and Donna Moody of the Winter Center. The Moodys observed that the brook’s lovely flumes and cascades are one of the Natural Area’s many gifts, along with the appearance of native impatiens in the same small stand of ground plants as poison ivy. The sap of impatiens provides an antidote to urushiol, the allergen in this native vine. We also encountered a native orchid and a number of ash trees, useful to the Abenaki.
Birds of Hayes Farm Park, Etna,5/21/11 –We explored Hanover’s newest acquisition in search of birds and other wildlife, with leader Gail McPeek.After enjoying the sight of chimney swifts and barn swallows swooping around the historic Hayes barn, we visited the Upper Meadow, site of the new Nan and Allen King Bird Sanctuary, where we saw several warblers, among others. Then it was down to the intriguing Trescott Ridge Wetlands nearby.
Upper Valley Trails Day, 6/4/11– Eleven hardy souls built a new trail connecting the Connecticut River with our Mink Brook Nature Preserve. Working under the leadership of Doug McIlroy, chair of the Trails Committee of the Hanover Conservation Commission, the group finished the job in under two hours. The new trail allows a pleasant walk from the town’s pump station up to the Brook Road trailhead gate, a nice alternative to walking along the road.
Annual Kite Day at Balch Hill, 5/14/11 – The Balch Hill summit was alive with kids and kites for a joyous and colorful afternoon in the spring breezes at Balch Hill. Ten families joined us for the fun.
Mother’s Day Wildflower Walk, 5/8/11 – Under the expert guidance of botanist Alice Schori, we discovered many spring wildflowers at the Balch Hill Natural Area and learned to spot these ephemeral beauties even before or after they bloom.
Spring Birding at Balch Hill, 5/7/11 – We had great luck with many species, 35 in all. Our group of eight birded the summit for more than 30 minutes and had good looks at Black-throated Blue and Black-throated Green warblers, Nashville and Chestnut-sided Warblers, many Yellow-rumped Warblers, and Prairie Warblers which are rare for this area. We also saw a brilliant male Scarlet Tanager, and a Ruby-throated Hummingbird chasing a cowbird. Other highlights were a pair of Barred Owls behaving as if young were close by (in the Maple Trail area near old maples.
Spring Birding at Mink Brook, 4/30/11 – Thirty-eight species of birds tested the identification, observation, and listening skills of those 11 who ventured out to Mink Brook Nature Preserve, led by Gail McPeek, George Clark, and Jim Barrett. Highlights included a pair of Blue-winged Teal and some Solitary Sandpipers feeding on the exposed mud flats.  Other notables were a Hooded Merganser, Broad-winged Hawk, Belted Kingfisher, Brown Creeper foraging, Swamp Sparrow in the marsh, and a hunting red fox.
Spring Migrants along the Connecticut River, 4/23/11 – A hardy group of 12 searched in the steadily falling snow and sleet for waterfowl and other spring migrants following New England’s greatest river north to their breeding grounds. They were rewarded with a turkey flying over the river, as well as kingfisher, hooded and common mergansers, a kestrel, northern harrier, and many more.
Woodcock Habitat & Management, 4/13/11 – A hearty group followed John Lanier of the Northeast Woodcock Initiative and Jim Kennedy on a tour of the Huntington Hill Wildlife Management Area. We observed the types of openings Jim had created for singing grounds and the dense cover necessary for brooding areas for this secretive ground-nesting bird. Following a dinner hosted by the Kennedys, we observed woodcock singing and spiraling in the twilight.

Winter 2011

Rinker-Steele Natural Area Snowshoe Hike – 2/26/11 – Fifteen joined Adair Mulligan to explore what the glacier left behind at Hanover’s newest conservation property. It was a lovely, clear morning with freshly fallen snow. Our path into the Natural Area was cleared early in the day by the Oak Hill groomer, then we struck out onto the trails lacing the ancient forest of the Rinker tract.
Ray School Family Snowshoe Hike – 2/5/11 – Twenty eager explorers set off on snowshoes, many for the very first time, on the trails at the Ray School. Everyone enjoyed hot chocolate after the trip. Leaders Gail McPeek & Janice O’Donnell report that a good time was had by all.Gail McPeek, Elisha Huggins, and Nancy Collier consult the map
Moose Mountain Ridge XC Ski & Snowshoe -1/29/11A hardy group of 12 explored the trails and natural history of Moose Mountain with naturalist Elisha Huggins. We enjoyed a panoramic vista from a trailside outcrop and the variety of terrain, along with Elisha’s stories of his many years of trail work on the network of trails surrounding this area.

Greensboro Ridge Winter Wildlife – 1/22/11 – Alcott Smith and Gail McPeek led an enthusiastic group of 25 on an exploration of the forested trails and ledges of the Greensboro Ridge Natural Area, hunting for signs of wildlife in the winter woods. Snowshoes were essential! Because the snow was so deep, wildlife sign was sparse, but Alcott found plenty of fascinating things to share.

Snowshoe & Bonfire at Slade Brook – 1/15/11 – Thirty hardy explorers prowled the Slade Brook watershed under a moon that occasionally peeked out from among the snow showers, then gathered around a bonfire for hot cocoa, cider, and hot dogs. Leaders Hugh Mellert and Gail McPeek report, “This was the best Moonlight Hike we have had in about 5 years. Last year it was cancelled because of no snow….the year before that it rained…..so this one had perfect snow conditions and temperatures. The bonfire was a big hit.”

FALL, 2010

Balch Hill: Circle of Life Quest: 9/25/2010 An energetic group explored Balch Hill, following the Circle of Life Quest with ValleyQuest coordinator Laura Dintino, HCC board member Gail McPeek, and Ellis Rolett, of the Council’s Balch Hill Stewardship Committee. Ellis shared tidbits of the hill’s history as the children and their parents followed the clues and hints of the Quest. All enjoyed a treat at the summit.
Hawk Watch at Balch Hill: 10/2/2010 Following two days of heavy rain, Saturday’s clearing skies and cooler temperatures offered very fortunate weather conditions for hawk migration over Balch Hill. Eleven participants gazed at the skies searching for birds as leader David Merker shared his expertise on hawk identification and hawk migration. The day’s tally included 2 Turkey Vultures, 12 Sharp-shinned Hawks, 1 Cooper’s Hawk, 2 Red-tailed Hawks, 2 American Kestrels, and 2 Bald Eagles (these appeared to be non-migrants heading north). The birds were flying high and really moving on strong northwest winds.
Into Deep Time: Rinker-Steele Natural Area: 10/17/2010 A beautiful fall morning found a group of eight exploring the newly conserved Rinker-Steele Natural Area with Dartmouth geologist / Council board member Dick Birnie and Executive Director Adair Mulligan. We heard about the history of this intriguing area, and how the steep, wildly twisting slopes were formed by early Camp Brook, gushing with glacial meltwater and tearing through the sediments left behind by glacial Lake Hitchcock. We talked about the conservation easement that now protects this Town-owned property, and the plans for its management into the future.
GPS Treasure Hunt at Balch Hill: 10/30/2010 Armed with GPS units that had already memorized Balch Hill’s hidden treasures, a group of eight explored the natural area following an electronic “trail.” Thanks to John Taylor and the Upper Valley Trails Alliance for an unusual adventure!

WINTER 2010

Mink Brook-Sachem Village-Boston Lot Loop Snowshoe: 3/6/10 What was supposed to be a snowshoe trek turned into a “feels like Spring” hike for the twelve attendees who gathered at the Mink Brook Nature Preserve. Guided by Mink Brook neighbor Maureen Bolton, in three hours the group completed a 6 mile loop of trails that brought us through the Nature Preserve, past Sachem Village, up along Indian Ridge and through the East-West Trail, and back down to Mink Brook.
The clear blue sky and unseasonably warm weather allowed the group to enjoy the varying terrains and elevations of the many interconnecting trails – it was icy in patches, but the lack of snow and leafless trees afforded a beautiful view over the Connecticut River to Vermont at the top of Indian Ridge. We also noted a great deal of woodpecker activity; some strange, beautiful mushrooms emerging from the snow; and the wonderful new wooden bridge crossing Mink Brook that was built using fallen logs from the Mink Brook Nature Preserve.
It was a perfect day to get outside. Many thanks to Maureen Bolton for taking the time to show us her “backyard” (and for knowing exactly how those many trails connect!)
Huntington Hill Farm Snowshoe 2/6/10 The second trip of the season was a success! Jed Williamson led a group of 12 hikers around Huntington Hill Farm on Saturday, February 6th for two hours. Trip participants reported animal tracks, discovered historic farm equipment and the old sugar shack on the property and enjoyed the flowing water of Slade Brook.
Animal Habitat Snowshoe with naturalist Alcott Smith 1/30/10 Our first 2010 Winter Adventure was met with bitter cold temperatures,but that did not discourage 22 folks from turning out to hike with naturalist Alcott Smith. For more than three hours the group explored the forested habitats around the Pingree Brook-Wardrobe Road area, north of Goodfellow Road. The many stone walls, some very large, old trees, former logging trails, and other features told the history of the land cleared for settlement and pasture, followed by reforestation and, more recently, some logging.
The lack of snow depth combined with fresh powder provided excellent conditions for animal tracks. Among the many tracks seen were coyote, fisher, deer, snowshoe hare, red squirrel, white-footed and deer mouse, short-tailed shrew, turkey, and grouse. Alcott provided excellent instruction on interpreting animal signs, including the use of tracks to determine which direction the animal was traveling, how fast or slow it was moving, and other behaviors. Other discoveries included young maple saplings with bark stripped-off by moose, hemlock stems cut and dropped to the ground by porcupine, and a porcupine den in a large, fallen log.
By 12:30pm, much of the group had hiked back to their vehicles, while a small contingency continued to the far northeast corner of the property, an area with glacial rocks with evidence of coyote and red fox use. Alcott also pointed out a deer bedding site, located on a little knoll with fairly open woods on all sides.
What a wonderful Winter Adventure it was. We are grateful to Alcott Smith for sharing his expertise and insights on the animals and ecology, and to the property owners for allowing us to explore this landscape.