This isolated wetland is a major breeding ground for Hooded Mergansers and Wood Ducks The shallow, boggy areas where cold-water streams enter the marsh are home to several unusual dragonfly species. This is a female Band-winged Meadowhawk (Sympetrum semicinctum)
Ongoing survey and monitoring work in the preserve has given me a wealth of information on how wildlife uses the various habitat types within the preserve, how populations of conservation priority species are faring in their preferred habitats and - most importantly - if our habitat management and conservation strategies are working to improve the living conditions and numbers of our target species.
View of the rugged terrain in most of the woodland. Note the Rock Polypody Ferns (Polypodium vulgare) growing on the boulder in the foreground.
This past Wednesday I spent much of the day getting shredded as I desperately attempted to wade through acres of chest-deep blackberry bushes in the 5-6 year old managed areas that still needed to be mapped with GPS. Even though that part of the job never gets more enjoyable or less painful, just walking around I am always in awe by the overall beauty of the preserve and its seemingly endless biodiversity. During every visit to the Croft Preserve I encounter something that instantly makes me forget the painful thorns and water-filled hiking boots that come with the territory. This day was no exception, and mere minutes before I reached my car to leave the preserve I was treated to a brief glimpse of a Connecticut Warbler. It flushed out of the tall grass in the overgrown forest road I was hiking on and sat on a nearby branch for a few seconds, as it flitted about in an agitated manner. I happened to have my camera around my neck and managed to get a few record shots in before the bird took off into the underbrush. Unfortunately, I had a wide-angle lens on my camera, since I was photographing some of the different habitats and the first signs of fall in the area, so the pictures had to be cropped extensively to show the bird. Nevertheless, I wanted to share with you this image of a rarely seen bird in CT. And I'll throw in some of the other pictures I took that day for good measure, so you can see for yourself that our Croft Preserve is quite a place!
Signs that the area looked quite differently a century or so ago can be seen throughout the preserve
The stone wall adjacent to these giant boulders surrounds a spring to form an artificial basin that undoubtedly was used as a drinking trough for cattle in historic times...
Record shot of a first winter Connecticut Warbler found on 9/14/2011. I found another Connecticut Warbler in one of our management areas in Croft Preserve on 10/9/2008.
Photos © Twan Leenders