Golden Acres

Posted by Jane N on

My youngest sister Becky has served on the Merrimack Conservation Committee for a couple of years now. As I once also served on my town's Conservation Committee we often discuss conservation issues. Becky has told me about the volunteer work she has been doing, that she helped blaze a new trail and build a bridge along the trail in the Wildcat Falls Conservation Area. It occurred to me that it was about time I visited this special wild area to see the fruits of her labor.

So my sister & I made plans for a light hike on a beautiful Fall day. Nothing can soothe your soul or brighten your mood like getting out in the fresh air and surrounding yourself with nature. Especially during Fall as the leaves are all turning a golden hue with splashes of red and orange. We hadn't walked very far along the trail when I nearly stepped on a Garter Snake sunning its self in the warmth of the morning sun. I was a bit surprised to see a snake so late in the season.

We soon cut off the main trail onto the side trail that Becky had been working on. We entered into a forest of towering oak trees, the golden rays of the sun shone thru the canopy, it was like we were in Mother Natures cathedral. I stood still for a minute just looking at the golden glow surrounding me. And don't ya know there was another Garter Snake laying across the trail! Yikes, that’s two snakes I almost stepped on in less than an hour. The trail made its way down to the edge of the Souhegan River and ran along the banks thru a small pine grove before climbing back up the ridge.

This area was a Woodpeckers paradise, we came upon numerous standing dead trees with nesting holes excavated. As we walked along we could hear the nasal yank-yank....yank-yank....call of the White-breasted Nuthatch. There was the sharp peek-peek-peek call of the Hairy Woodpecker. The unmistakable loud call cuk..cuk..cuk..cuk...cuk...of the Pileated Woodpecker rang thru the woods. At 17 inches this bird is North America's largest Woodpecker, always impressive to see drilling at a fallen log for bugs. The most unusual call was the Red-bellied Woodpecker, with its soft musical churrrr---churrrr---churrr coming from the woods.

As we made our way along the trail we climbed a set of granite steps (AKA the knee busters) that had been set into the steep ridge to access the top of Wildcat Falls. Becky said the river was low so the falls were not as impressive as they usually are but I wasn't disappointed. I thought the view was stunning. We sat on some rocks at the top of the falls and enjoyed a picnic lunch. It was so peaceful listening to the sound of the rushing water this was indeed a very special wild place worth every effort to preserve.

I'm very proud of the volunteer work my little sister has been doing. I look forward to a return visit to the Golden Acres of Wildcat Falls (minus the snakes).

Happy Birding, Jane

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