Gem of a State Park

IMG_3860After work today I popped over to Niquette State Park in Colchester. It is hidden not far from Interstate 89. Easy to get to, the place was not busy. I pulled into the parking lot and saw a few other cars. It looked like a group of runners. They were packing up and drove out of there before I got out of my car. One other guy was just tying on his shoes. We hit the trail at the same time.

The place isn’t huge but it has several miles of trails. I had been there before and had taken the direct route right to the lake. When the lake isn’t at flood stage, as it is now, there is a beach. Now the water covers the base of the trees at the shore. It is wet.

Today I took a different trail. I headed uphill on a rocky path with ledges and a even cliffs. It wound around up to a lookout over the lake. It was beautiful. Maybe it was the gray afternoon with the bright green leaves just popping out. Maybe it was the white and pink trilliums blooming everywhere. Maybe the ledges looked their best in the dampness from the rain showers. I was blown away by how peaceful, even magical, it was on that high road.

IMG_3853

The runner passed me going the other way. He was cooking. It would be an amazing place to run–a good combination of smooth and rugged trails, with a few miles to keep it interesting. Today, however, I was looking for birds. I did not find many. A couple of warblers, a chickadee. I heard a Hermit Thrush calling and then flushed it; it landed close by and I got to check out its reddish tail bobbing.

I heard one bird I didn’t know but it eventually flew off. Bummer. Farther up the trail, however, I heard another one. I left the trail to chase it down and eventually saw it. Scarlet Tanager. Bright red with black wings. A stunner. I listened to it call for a while so I can add that call to my mental audio files. With the tanager and the Baltimore Orioles I saw earlier, I am up to 138 birds I’ve spotted in Chittenden County–only 37 to go to reach my goal of 175 by the end of the year.

I will definitely be back to Niquette State Park. The place is a gem. After Memorial Day it will cost three bucks to get in. Seems like a bargain to me.

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