Along the Air Line... 2010 - Fall, Part 6
The Air Line Trail in Eastern Connecticut - Stan Malcolm Photos

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Stan Malcolm Photo



November 14th.  Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) passing through on their way south.



Stretching before flight.












See their breath in the cold morning air as they honk.



One group takes flight...



...and another.



Winterberry on an old beaver lodge.



November 17th. With temps in the mid fifties and after a night of heavy rain, slugs were out for a stroll.



At right you can see the slug's long optical tentacles.  These are simply light sensitive; they don't distinguish color, much less form an image.  Below them are a pair of short smell and taste sensitive tentacles.  (And below and behind them, not visible in the photo, is the slug's mouth with its toothed "radula" used to rasp food from surfaces.)  Did you notice the apparent hole in the slug's right side a little further back?  This is its pneumostome - and there is only one, not another on the left side. According to the British "Trees for Life" website, "The slug actually breathes through its body, but air entering the pneumostome passes into a small lung-like cavity which provides extra skin area for breathing when the animal is engaged in strenuous exercise, such as moving."  (Fun to consider a slug's motion as "strenuous exercise."  Everything is relative I suppose.)



Colors are more intense on post-rain damp surfaces.



November 26th.  Beavers continue to work on an Oak adjecent to the trail.



They've been at it for about a week.



Further down the trail, other beavers have attacked a tree showing damage and rot from beaver activity several years ago.



The tree is effectively girdled now and will die, whether or not the beavers fell it.



Still elsewhere several dead and rotting trees show what I think is Pileated Woodpecker feeding damage.



You can see the dark stains of fungus in the damp dead wood, along with several wood-boring beetle holes.



Beavers seem to be improving an old lodge and caching branches as winter food beside it.  The lodge isn't very high above the water so far; it has been subject to flooding in past years.



Mosses were stunningly green after last night's rain.









Today I investigated a sign I'd noticed off in the woods.  Apparently there is a benchmark nearby but I was not able to locate it.  Probably obscured by leaves.  I'd never seen the term "Witness Post" before.



November 28th.  After a little online research into Witness Posts, I learned that the associated benchmark is typically about 3' away - in front of the post.  A little scuffing of leaves this morning and I'd found the benchmark.



It's set in concrete and replaces an earlier version that had been uprooted and carried off.  (The former cement base, minus its disc, is a few feet away.



This is the Colchester North Base "Triangulation Station".  Originally placed in 1942 and replaced in 1971.  Quite interersting to read the description of its location, and two nearby reference points.  Geocaching enthusiasts enjoy locating benchmarks, and here they reference this one.



November 30th.  Yesterday, beavers felled an oak they started on a week or more ago.  Nice of them to drop it beside the trail rather than across it.  Over the next few weeks, they should trim and carry off most of the branches.  (They have a large dam and food cache just down the bank from this oak.)



The oak finally fell when the trunk had been whittled down to just a couple of inches.



December 2nd. Last night, the beavers trimmed a lot of branches from the felled oak.  Most of what they cut has been hauled off into the marsh.



Now if they would just cut the trunk into stove lengths.



December 3rd.  Last night the beavers finished harvesting branches from the fallen oak.  They left the work area very tidy and improved the sight line into the marsh towards the United Distillers' chimney.