Greenstone Hollow Nature Preserve

What Did YOU Do on 11-12-13?
Greenstone Hollow, East Granby

November 12, 2013

hascI admit, I went to this little property up route 187 thinking it would be a “nothing” little walk. Of course, there’s not many miles of trail here and literally zero feet of elevation gain. I just wanted to get an Audubon property under my belt to build out this section on my website.

I had a few extra minutes on a random day so went for it.

First off, whoa! Such a handsome sign at the main sanctuary entrance! Sure, it’s in the middle of a new housing development; the kind with 5 different models of essentially the same ugly home built to minimum standards where the toilets all clog within a few months because the sewer diameters weren’t up to code.

And sure, it’s simply old farmland reclaimed by a tangle of shrubs and brush and trees – the kinds of stuff birds love, by the way.

But ten steps into the property, I was enamored. The rudimentary map provided on the HAS website is perfectly fine. The trails are incredibly well maintained, especially considering HOW they are maintained here.

At least half of the trails are wide: 6-feet of mowed grass somehow, and all that bramble and brush is pruned back wonderfully. Let’s hear from HAS:

hasaThis East Granby property is 38 acres in size. A development road runs through the preserve. It has shrubby fields, a dense shrub layer, red cedars and white pine, hardwood forest, cattail marsh, two small farm ponds, and a perennial stream with a shrubby shore. The preserve is in the 100 year flood zone and is crossed by the South Tributary of Austin Brook. This is an abandoned farm field in forest succession. Much of the interior is unknown due to the dense shrubs. It is surrounded by residential development and farm fields. Larry Lunden and Chris Fisher have been active in clearing trails and cleaning up the property and even leading birdwalks to determine the bird species inhabiting this area. If you have any questions regarding this sanctuary, please contact Larry Lunden.

I have a question for Larry Lunden. Sir, how do you keep up with the maintenance of this place? I mean, you’ve put a million little signs all over the sanctuary, noting all the trails and side trails and special places and what HAS calls “outlooks.” Sure, they seem to fade in the sun and weather, but I’m 100% confident they will return anew come spring.

The sanctuary does seem a little over-trailed, but considering this was farmland probably 80 years ago, it makes no difference. The wet areas have little planks and bridges over them and the key birding areas are demarked as well.

I would call this perfect bird habitat

Even though I was here in mid-November in the middle of the day, I saw a ton of birds – and heard many more. Let’s hear about the 2011 census from Greenstone Hollow:

haAt the end of 2011 there have been cumulatively 93 species reported on eBird, up from 77 species last year. Among the notable species added this year are Yellow-billed and Black-billed Cuckoo, Rusty Blackbird, Nashville Warbler, Alder Flycatcher, and Yellow-throated Vireo. I saw a report of a Connecticut Warbler at the Hollow, but it was not entered onto eBird.

Get with it, Connecticut warbler spotter. Also, according to HAS: “Still no report of the elusive Rock Pigeon.”

Get with it, Rock Pigeon.

Audubon Connecticut visited the preserve and prepared a report with recommendations on habitat improvements. We will be working on them during the upcoming year. The DEEP conducted a study of rabbits on the preserve. They are looking for the rare New England Cottontail. We have lots of rabbits, but the results are not yet available.

Get with it, rabbit spotters.

So near to Bradley Airport, you’ll spot plenty of these birds

Since that report was from 2011, maybe my enjoyment of the property was a direct result of the mama Audubon steering the local chapter a bit with their land management. Who knows.

There is a spot towards the northern end of the sanctuary called “Willow Grove.” There are a few weeping willows there and they are graceful and beautiful. I imagine that at dawn on a summer’s day this is just an incredible place to be.

Oh, and there’s the greatest apple tree on earth near the Grove too. Look at this thing. I love it so much.

I took a few apples and ate them.

I’m sure a birder could spend hours here at dawn, sitting in quiet contemplation and listening for bird calls. Me? I saw some cardinals and a few other things that I may or may not be able to identify – but this is still a cool little place to check out.

I’m pleased with my first local Audubon trail system.


Hartford Audubon Society
CTMQ’s Hartford Audubon Society Trails
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One response to “Greenstone Hollow Nature Preserve”

  1. Larry Lunden says:

    Thank you very much for the wonderful report on our preserve. I have a crew of several volunteers who keep the trails in shape. We are actively engaged in habitat maintenance to improve the bird and wildlife habitat.

    This area was set aside from the housing development as part of the town development regulations. All new developments are required to do so, and it adds to the available open spaces.

    We have now seen 106 species of birds there. Alas no Rock Pigeons as they are principally a city bird.

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