A few weeks ago, a coworker and I had some vegetation sampling to do along the trail to Copperas Pond in Wilmington Notch, so we grabbed Wren and headed in. The trail loops, meeting Route 86 in two places about a mile apart, and we hiked in along the northern access. The trail climbed steeply at first, but then became rolling as we wound through a mixed deciduous – coniferous forest on our way to Copperas Pond.
We passed the trail that heads to Winch Pond, a small, muddy-edged pond which I’ve found is good for birds, but we didn’t have time to head there. Last year in September I found a flock of about twenty rusty blackbirds in the wetland that borders Winch. While we weren’t so lucky to find rusty blackbirds on this day, we did find a few late summer mixed-species flocks of birds as we hiked. Like usual, the black-capped chickadees were the noisiest members of these flocks, and I pished them in hoping other birds would follow their lead. In this way we saw or heard several species including black-throated blue warbler, black-throated green warbler, blue-headed vireo, red-eyed vireo, and red-breasted nuthatch.
We came to Copperas Pond – a picturesque body of water with a popular lean-to. The trail follows the edge of the pond where there are views of the top of Whiteface Mountain over the water. The pond is also popular for swimming, but on this day Wren was the only member of our party to take a dip. She was happy to cool off.
The trail winds around to Owen Pond, another pretty water body nestled in a rocky and tree-line shore. There we did a rather complicated vegetation survey – owing to difficult footing around a fallen tree and an open gap which had allowed a diversity of shrubs room and sun to grow. Some shrubs can be tricky to key out, but we had fun and enjoyed the process.
After finishing our work, we retraced our steps, chatting with a few other hikers and allowing Wren another chance to swim. Before we descended back to the parking area, we found our best flock of birds yet, which, while containing many of the same species as before, gave us nice looks at blue-headed vireo, magnolia warbler, and black and white warbler. Then we began our descent to the car, during which time we were able to encourage a tired family that they were almost to the top of their climb.