On Sunday afternoon, we took a very nice drive through the Berkshires to the south-west corner of Massachusetts (about 70 mins from Albany) to visit the preserve with the wonderful name Bartholomew's Cobble. The preserve is one of many owned and operated by the somewhat less wonderfully-named organisation, The Trustees of Reservations. However, strange name or not, we find ourselves with another list of local places to visit (not all their reservations are nearby - they are all over Massachusetts, but many are within a short drive).
The preserve is fairly small, with 5 miles of trails, but we spent a very full two hours there and only walked about half of them and in no-way begrudged the $5 per adult entry fee.
I've already told you about the touch-me-nots, but other interesting or pretty plants and fungi were in good supply:
The two miles of trails we walked were very varied - with woodland, rocky outcrops, meadows by the Housatonic River and occasional views of the surrounding hills.
As we were turning back, we spotted this huge tree - then the opening at the base:
All three of the kids went inside (one at a time) to look up the huge hollow trunk. I could only manage to stick my arms in with a camera to get a view up into the darkness.
But the best was still to come, we felt more than heard a huge bird fly low over our heads. At first we took it for a large hawk, but when it obligingly landed and turned our way, the truth was revealed. It was a Barred Owl.
A first for us (in the wild) and rather wonderful!