Category Archives: Land Observations

A Nice Hike at Lime Kiln Wildlife Sanctuary

Lime Kiln Wildlife Sanctuary, November 13, 2016
By Kate Buttolph, Land Protection Specialist – Western Massachusetts

It was a balmy November afternoon at Lime Kiln Wildlife Sanctuary.  A group of Berkshires Wildlife Sanctuaries supporters met with Sanctuary Director Becky Cushing, Education/Program Director Dale Abrams, and Land Protection Specialist, Kate Buttolph, for a walk and talk about Mass Audubon’s future land protection efforts at Lime Kiln.  We are excited to be working on an addition of approximately 100 acres, using a special grant dedicated to protecting the Housatonic watershed.

If you have never been to Lime Kiln, it is worth a visit.  The trail is an easy walk, with a visit to the old Lime Kiln, and two points with scenic vistas.  The lime kiln was used for the calcination of limestone to produce quicklime, which is used as a main ingredient in cement and in paper mills.  It was once used in stage lighting because when heated it emits a bright glow, called a limelight.  The lime kiln is located here because of the presence of calcareous bedrock.  This area is one of the most limestone-rich regions of the state.


Later in the trail you will pass a memorial plaque for the donor of this remarkable place, Edna Sheinhart.  This spot overlooks a field where, in the summer, you will see many butterflies and birds.

Even in the fall, there was evidence of wildlife activity and habitat, as well as the opportunity to hone our tree identification skills!


When you are finished walking, adults may head over to the Berkshire Mountain Distillers, or down the road to Big Elm Brewing for tours, or visit neighbor The Magic Fluke for a ukulele.

Busy Day on a Beaver Pond

By Nick Rossi, Conservation Restriction Stewardship Specialist

Even on a hot day in a dry summer, beaver ponds remain a wet and bustling oasis for wildlife.  Mass Audubon has many beaver ponds within its sanctuary network, and we may have another one soon. We anticipate adding roughly 86 acres to Rutland Brook Wildlife Sanctuary in central Massachusetts within the next year or so. This pristine patch of woodland has many desirable natural features. However, the beaver pond on it may be the most valuable.

Beavers build dams to flood sections of forest using mud, sticks and small trees. This creates a watery safe zone from predators and habitat for the aquatic plants that make up a large part of their diet. In the process, they also build habitat for a variety of other species.


On my visit to this beaver pond last week, the air filled with the chatter of tree swallows, quacking of ducks and the buzzing of dragonflies. Along the banks I found numerous trees gnawed at their base—a sign of a healthy and industrious beaver colony.  I couldn’t help but admire their handiwork.


Learn more about beavers >


High Summer Sanctuary Jaunts in Pioneer Valley

View from High Ledges

View from High Ledges Wildlife Sanctuary

It is high summer in the Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts.  It’s a great time to be out on a trail, hot days in the shady woods, enjoying the smells of pine and balsam and the cool sounds of small brooks running.  Visit Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary (Easthampton), Conway Hills Wildlife Sanctuary (Conway), Graves Farm Wildlife Sanctuary (Williamsburg) and High Ledges Wildlife Sanctuary (Shelburne Falls).  Each has a unique character.

Arcadia gives you grasslands and wooded paths along a river.  Conway Hills has shady woods, a stream and a short loop trail just off of Route 116.  The wooded trail through Graves Farm is a quiet and lovely antidote to the hubbub of Route 9.  Spot the disappearing white tail of a deer, and admire the rock formations and old stone walls.

Path through split rock - Graves Farm

Split rock – path at Graves Farm Wildlife Sanctuary

For a wooded walk to a dramatic overlook, head to Shelburne Falls, High Ledges Wildlife Sanctuary.  The view over Shelburne Falls and the Deerfield River is breathtaking, and you might spot an eagle soaring through the updrafts on a breezy day.

By Kate Buttolph – Land Protection Specialist, Western MA