Sorry For Grousing – Dorothy Frances Rice Wildlife Sanctuary

Where We Went : Dorothy Frances Rice Wildlife Sanctuary – Peru, MA

When We Went : June 1st

Difficulty (Boots 1 – 10) : 1 – 2 Boots

Trail Length : Varied trail network totaling 5 miles – All marked by colors – We hiked the Pond trail, Pink Trail, Yellow Trail, and some of the Red Trail.

How Long it Took Us : 2.5 Hours

Overview : The town of Peru boasts the highest elevation in the state (2,064 feet). The sanctuary was established in the late 1920s on property owned by Oran Rice, a New York City architect, and his wife, Mary, to honor their daughter, a recent Smith College graduate who had succumbed to tuberculosis.

After Oran Rice died, his widow set up a family trust to preserve and maintain the land, which was donated to the foundation in 1974, along with a maintenance fund for the trails and the caretaker’s cottage. The family’s summer home within the preserve had been destroyed by fire and later was demolished. The lightly trafficked Sanctuary offers six well-marked trails and reportedly over 40 nesting species of birds.

The color-coded trails are well maintained and offer up beaver ponds, lush meadows, transitional forests, and a hilltop lookout as some points of interest. Check the log for recent animal sightings. From the large map posted at the caretaker’s cottage, pick a color, and go explore!

What We Dug : As you walk up Rice Road, almost immediately on the left, is a beaver marsh. We spent some time stick-tossing and searching for signs of beaver activity. Just before the caretaker’s cabin, there is an overgrown field on the left.

Once called “fool hens” because they seemed so stupid, the grouse is now acknowledged for it’s canny nature. Male grouse are extremely territorial. The grouse shows off his dominance through a drumming display. A decaying log becomes a stage. The log is usually that of an older tree and of larger size. Logs hidden beneath brambles or low-hanging trees are top choice, as the grouse prefer the cover from moss and debris. In the quiet of the woods, the beating of the grouse’s wings sound like a lawn mower starting up, or the beating of a heart; especially at the beginning, when the drumming starts off soft and slowly increases in speed and intensity. The beating of the wings against the air create a vacuum, as lightning does when it makes thunder. This ritual is more frequent in the spring, but occasionally heard in the summer and fall. We attempted (and failed) to sit quietly near the underbrush with our ears at the ready. Grouse also make a

Interest swiftly waned and we continued on towards the second pond, stopping in the meadow to climb a large boulder and enjoy a snack bench-side. Another round of pond exploration, bridge crossing and woodland exploration led us to the Pink Trail. We didn’t make it to the outlook but took another opportunity to listen for the furious wings of the grouse in the forest below. This time we tried to imitate it’s sound in hopes of a response. We cupped our hands and slowly started beating our chest, quickening the pace as we went.

This went as you’d expect: no reply from the wise old grouse, just the four of us in the woods comically thumping away like gorillas.

Concluding these theatrics, thoroughly enjoyed by the kids, we headed back to Rice Road by way of the Yellow Trail – with not a grouse to be heard, bird or otherwise.

What We Could Do Without :

MY EXPECTATIONS. I went into this hike with “birding” at the forefront of my mind and was humbled real quick. Most kids under 10 (and over?) are not very stealthy. Mine are exceptionally rhino-like, making proper birding near impossible. The gorilla dance reminded me: this is supposed to be FUN!

Keep Your Eyes Peeled For: Wishing Well, Apple Tree, Red Maple, Beech, White Pine, Red Spruce, Balsam Fir, Blue Flag, Foamflower, Hummingbird Moths,

Must Know Before You Go’s : Rice Road is closed to vehicles. Park on the road shoulder but please don’t block the gate to Rice Road. The trailhead kiosk stocked with trail maps, as well as the kiosk near the caretaker’s cottage. Cottage hours are sporadic. No facilities. Cross country skiing allowed. No hunting, fishing or motorized vehicles. Black bears are seen here frequently, and moose are becoming more common each year. Use precautions and make your presence known.

Directions : Follow Route 143 east from Hinsdale to Peru center and turn right onto South Road. Follow South Road until you arrive at a marked gate. This is Rice Road.

Website :

Resources :

https://www.audubon.org/news/see-and-hear-ruffed-grouses-haunting-air-drumming

Scroll through for more photos of our DFR Wildlife Sanctuary Adventure!

BFH’s Holiday Gift Guide 2019

Guys, it’s that time of year and mannnn…already I wanna buy ALL. THE. THINGS.

And like anything involving my wallet, shit can get outta hand QUICK. But here’s the thing, we recently moved and along the way, I attempted to purge an ungodly amount of toys, games, books, STUFF. I swore that I was going to start fresh and not just buy for the sake of buying. It’s difficult to avoid the trap of just buying to fill up space under the tree, and instead choosing gifts with intention. Gifts to spark curiosity and imagination, to further our love and appreciation of nature, for long lasting memories and keepsakes, and maybe to sneak some learning in there as well. Whenever possible to purchase items that are hand-made, local (to the Berkshires), support small businesses, and eco-friendly.

We hope this list inspires you too!


Jewelry

Soulful Intentions

Check out more of her stunning work on

Emily Jane Design

with every single one of these dainty beauties! From the evergreen earrings to the fungi rings, I can’t help but want them all. Every piece is handmade in Emily’s studio in Northborough, MA. These gifts are sure to wow any nature lover in your life.

Rosie Research Science Jewelry

Rosie Research aims to bring science education to kids in exciting and interesting ways.

Dr. Erica, founder of these wild classes and camps, also created these awesome bracelet kits. Now learning the plant life cycle, or the water cycle is as fun as creating a gorgeous bracelet! Each kit comes with everything you need to create a cool piece of jewelry. They also come with a unique “genius” card that will teach you about each special bead. Learn about condensation in the water cycle or the difference between a chrysalis and a cocoon in the butterfly life cycle. With these cool science bracelet kits, your kids will have quality time with you, hands-on learning moments, and something beautiful to wear after!

Books

SmithGirlReads

Instagram @SmithGirlReads

Instagram @storeypub

Binka Bear

And. Spoiler Alert! IT WORKS. And we were done with binky’s in one night after using this method, I swear! Like raise my right hand, left on the bible, truth coming at ya.

I’ll let you decide who this gift is really for.

https://micahmortali.com/

Games

  1. Shadows In The Forest
  2. Sibley Backyard Birds Matching Game
  3. Into The Forest
  4. Hit The Habitat Trail
  5. Match A Leaf

Outdoor Play

  1. Quick-Release Bug Catcher & Magnifier
  2. Butterfly Growing Kit – With Voucher to Redeem Caterpillars Later
  3. Adjustable Head Lamps
  4. Shockproof Binoculars
  5. Easy-Hold Magnifying Glass
  6. Standing Micro Viewer
  7. Iphone Travel Lantern
  8. Rock Tumbling Kit
  9. Firefly Communicator

Handmade

Grey Owl Design

Instagram @GreyOwlDesign

Twig & Moth

Instagram @Twigandmoth

Wee Things Fiber Arts

Instagram @Weethingsfiberarts


We hope this list provides you with ample ideas and resources for the upcoming holiday season! Thank you to all our local makers & businesses – your passion and creativity is a gift for us all!