Sunday, August 8, 2010

Good Time Park

Went exploring in the wetlands of Good Time Park yesterday. It is an abandoned horse-racing track from the early 1900's in Goshen, NY. Not sure who owns it now, but it is colored green (like public land) on Google Maps. There is a fence around it, and there are no trails or signs.

A heron was standing in the pond north of the old track. Near him was something I have never seen before. There and in other random spots around the pond, huge fish (~ 2 feet long) were swirling around each other and breaching the surface. I'm guessing they were carp based on the big scales on their backs. They gave the impression of large reptilian pond monsters. The heron was ignoring them, though they were right near its legs.

There were other monstrous creatures in the pond. Huge mussel and snail shells were scattered around the banks. The snail in the picture is ~3 inches tall.

In the swampy center of the "triangle," a deer and her fawn stood in the water eating marsh plants...moose-like. The water was completely covered with duck-weed. Large patches of a leg-lacerating, serrated grass grow here that make travel in shorts and sandals inadvisable (whoops). I later learned that it has the sinister name of "cutgrass." Kingbirds, house wrens, song sparrows, swamp sparrows, starlings, mallards, robins, and cedar waxwings live here.

A tree in the center of the marsh supported a small great blue herons rookery (four nests), apparently done for the season.

Ruby Meadowhawk dragonfly.

Found an old relic of the old horse-racing facilities. I'm guessing this was the box they did the announcing from. It wasn't fast horse racing, but the slow kind called "trotting." (The horse equivalent of speed-walking.) A famous race called the Hambletonian was hosted here in the 1930's.

Monkeyflower (Mimulus sp.).

I (hesitantly) walked right by a very recent-looking hobo shelter built right along the old track. He had some disheveled tarps, a cooler, some blankets, and even a clothes-line. Lots of trash strewn around as usual. I thought I caught a glimpse of legs and sneakers, but I didn't want to look too closely. I wonder where his home range is?

My favorite bird of the day was the humble swamp sparrow. This one had a crossed bill tip.

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