a childhood saved

A Naturalist's Notebook

When I was 14-15 years old, I wrote a series of 23 essays as a weekly assignment for my high school English class. I called the series "A Naturalist's Notebook." Naturalist's Notebook Table of Contents

Autumn at Brinton Brook Audubon Sanctuary: October 10, 1973

Brinton Brook Sanctuary is a National Audubon Society-owned plot of land. Its 127 acres are maintained by the Saw Mill River Audubon Society, a chapter of National Audubon. It has four major trails: blue, gentian, red, and yellow. By the yellow trail, the longest of the four, there is a small pond with a wooden cabin built next to it. The cabin houses small objects and curiosities native to our area.

"Brinton" is only about a mile from my house, so I go there often. I go very early in the morning while it is still dark, so that I arrive at the sanctuary at dawn.

On Sunday, October 7, I went to "Brinton" for two hours, 6-8 am, and I had about the best time there I have ever had. As I entered the sanctuary, I heard a wood duck squealing down by the pond. I went by the pond and all the way to the entrance (I come by the back entrance) without any unusual sightings. As I neared the entrance, I heard a great horned owl hooting in the distance. I reached the entrance, entered my name and date in the guest register, and went down the yellow trail. I turned off at the red trail and walked up to the split rock spring, a beautiful, quiet place. I then proceeded up the trail, when suddenly a loud noise surprised me. I looked up and saw, to my amazement, two broad-winged hawks! One of them flew away from me, but the other stayed. I squeaked to the bird to try to attract him. He evidently though I was a mouse, for he flew over to a branch about 30 feet away, at eye level. I took a small object from my side-pack and threw it about five feet ahead of me. The hawk, thinking that the object was the mouse, flew straight at me! Finally he turned away at a distance of about ten feet and flew up into a tree. I went over to see where he was, and he flew away. This was the most exciting experience I have ever had with any hawk.

After the experience with the hawks, I saw a ruffed grouse, and several flocks of over 50 Canada geese. I also saw a migrating kestrel, or sparrow hawk, a colorful little falcon.

My experiences at Brinton Brook Sanctuary have been very rewarding. I have seen deer, indigo buntings, heard foxes, seen pileated woodpeckers, and other unusual animals. Some of these have been "lifers" (the first time I've seen that particular animal) and I never know what I will encounter next.

Many people go to Brinton for many reasons, but every single one of them seems to enjoy it greatly. I know I do.

Next: "Harvest Moon," October 18, 1973