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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Dyken Pond

My father and I headed out to Dyken Pond Environmental Education Center on yet another cold winter day.  Dyken Pond, at 180 acres, is the largest lake on the Rensselaer Plateau as well as the headwaters for the Poestenkill Creek. The Center sits on nearly 600 acres of land in the towns of Grafton, Poestenkill and Berlin.   We took a short walk onto the frozen lake and didn't appear to be seeing any signs of recent ice fishing action.
Much of the woodlands at the Center are a mix of Birch-Maple Mesic Forest as well as a Hemlock-Northern Hardwood Forest.  The broken in trails made for mostly easy walking, although off trail the snow remains over a foot deep.
Along small streams and brooks there are usually lots of signs of animal tracks.  We tracked a grey fox into this area by Otter Cove.
There was some open water in the Otter Cove section.
We kept a watchful eye open for signs of animal tracks in the woods.
My dad was having trouble keeping his ice cleats tied down to his boots.
We tracked a lot of red squirrels and even a couple of Fishers.
Along the Mary McFalls Historic Trail is an area known as the Sentinals, a pair of massive glacial erratic boulders.
A bit further down the trail, we came across an area where there was much animal activity. There was even a small dug out shelter several feet away near a foot bridge.
Dustin Swamp, a large wetland, is located on the southern end of the property.
The trail skirts the outside of Dustin Swamp offering nice views and opportunities to see wildlife.
There is a very nice lean-to along the white marked Long Trail.
The lean-to affords a nice rustic, shelter from the weather.  It can be especially nice to find, when out in a  downpour or strong winds.
Lean-to's are popular in the Adirondacks, Catskills and along sections of the Appalachian Trail.  This was a nicely built lean-to with an outhouse about 50 yards away in the woods.
A line of snow squalls came moving through as we walked out onto the boardwalk near Dustin Swamp.  We saw some mink tracks on some of the ice, heading into the woods.
As we got back to the truck, the snow continued to fall.  It didn't amount to a lot, but just enough to coat everything white.
Overall, we walked about 1.75 miles altogether.  It felt great to get out into the woods, even with a cold, windy, snowy day.  I truly appreciate the opportunity to get out with my dad and soak in his wildlife knowledge.  Always a pleasure.

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