Saturday, September 12, 2015
Saturday, September 05, 2015
Sterling Falls, part of the Sterling Falls Gorge Natural Area, a conservation area acquired from the family of IBM's Tom Watson and maintained by six different conservation organizations in Vermont. There are several hiking trails, but the most popular, I would guess, leads to the gorge and has the added attraction of interpretive signs. Since Dick and I are involved with such interpretation we really appreciated them. If I could find a way to contact the right group, I would let them know. All week, I've wished we had a geologist along. Somehow, I'd always thought Vermont was full of granite, and not much else. Internet research shows this is absolutely wrong, but I still would appreciate more guidance.
For example, did you know that a gorge consists of a series of moderate-sized falls, cascades, and pools. A gorge is a section of a stream channel with continuous rock walls which are at least 10 feet high on both sides. A small gorge has walls under 40 feet high and a large gorge has walls over 40 feet high. The walls at Sterling Falls Gorge range from as low as 11 feet at the northern end to over 50 feet at the southern end. Several falls and cascades occur at Sterling Falls Gorge Natural Area. The difference between the two is distinguished by how the water falls from the bedrock exposure. A falls is a vertical or near vertical drop which is at least 3 feet high. The water shoots outward and falls without touching the rock. A cascade is a bedrock exposure which is not vertical but at either a high or a low angle and the water remains in contact with the bedrock. A small falls or cascade is under 20 feet and a large one is over 20 feet.
Some of the fallen rocks are in fact large slabs of fallen wall but others were transported when the stream had much more energy. Perhaps in the spring, during the snowmelt season, the stream's discharge was at a much greater volume. The measure of a stream's ability to transport a certain maximum grain size of sediment is referred to as a stream's competence. Looking at the wide variety of sizes of material in Sterling Brook, it is obvious that its competence varies greatly with the season.
How do you think schistosity affects the credibility of the rock? Is it more credible with vertical or horizontal schistosity? The schisosity is a plane of weakness in the rock. It allows water to penetrate and more easily erode the rock than if it were a more homogenous "harder" rock. I love learning new vocabulary! You think of rocks being hard, but "credible?"
While watching Vermont PBS in the evening this week, we heard they were offering a special activity for their members at Smugglers' Notch Resort this Saturday, including a visit from the Vermont Institute of Natural Science - VINS - which rehabs raptors along with many other things. Well, I couldn't pass that by, could I? The presenter did a marvelous job, and it's always reassuring to hear someone else echo the things we always say about raptors. She even told the story about Kestrels being able to track mice because they can see mouse pee glowing in ultraviolet light, which they are able to see!
Thursday, September 03, 2015
Shelburne Museum. Electra Havemeyer Webb (1888-1960) was a pioneering collector of American folk art and founded Shelburne Museum in 1947. The daughter of H.O. and Louisine Havemeyer, important collectors of European and Asian art, she exercised an independent eye and passion for art, artifacts, and architecture celebrating a distinctly American aesthetic. When creating the Museum she took the imaginative step of collecting 18th- and 19th-century buildings from New England and New York in which to display the Museum’s holdings, relocating 20 historic structures to Shelburne. These include houses, barns, a meeting house, a one-room schoolhouse, a lighthouse, a jail, a general store, a covered bridge, and the 220-foot steamboat Ticonderoga.
Tuesday, September 01, 2015
Monday, August 31, 2015
The road rises from our resort through granite cliffs to cross the Notch and descend on to Stowe. A large flashing sign announces that semis and buses are prohibited through the Notch, followed by another sign that the road is narrowing. A third sign warns that we are in an active rock fall zone, and may be attacked by falling rocks at any time!
The route was improved to accommodate automobile traffic in 1922 providing a route for liquor to be brought in from Canada during the Prohibition years. But apparently no one considered moving the rocks from the projected path of the road, so you have to watch carefully to keep from running into huge boulders in your path. I've heard that mountains make their own weather, and it seemed true in the Notch. Dark clouds looked like a storm was ready to strike, while the wind blew dust devils from the dirt parking areas.
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
and voila, Jean found a Hummer perched in a tree above the red blossoms. As the sun rose and warmed things up, I mentioned that we hadn't seen any Vultures yet. Turn around and voila, there are 6-8 Turkey Vultures soaring on their first warm thermal of the day. This meadow usually has lots of Meadow Larks in it but we haven't seen or heard any. Well, nesting season is over, so they don't need to sing, but voila, we saw 4-5 Meadow Larks in the next minute. Either we are just good about knowing what to look for in this spot, or I'm developing some new gift that allows me to summon birds like some sort of Bird Whisperer! It was harder this morning, since we saw mystery brown birds that were probably juvenile somethings, and few birds were singing. We decided they were juvenile Red Winged Blackbirds later.
Merlin Bird Photo ID service Cornell Univ has to identify birds by photo, and thought I'd give it a try. Some of the options they came up with were pretty weird, like Eurasian Collared Dove, Ovenbird and Common Grackle, but then it suggested a female or immature Common Yellowthroat, and their photo pretty well matched mine. Certainly Common Yellowthroats live in the area we found this bird. Pretty cool!
The pond at the Grand Allee has been treated to keep the duckweed down, and now has an aerator bubbling to keep the water clear, and it does look nice.