Mountain Springs Nature Trail is home to a variety of flora and fauna. Some species are invasive, others native to our region. As you make your way along the trail, you may encounter a number of these species, ranging from amphibians and to mammals and birds. Perhaps most interesting are the cicada (Cicadidae spp.), thumb-sized insects with long transparent wings. Cicadas are known for the distinctive, droning noise male cicadas make by vibrating two membranes on their abdomens. Also found is the Eastern spadefoot (Scaphiopus holbrookii) , a primitive toad that is an endangered species in Connecticut. In addition, this area is home to the Northern Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix mokasen), a venomous pit viper named after the copper-colored, brown or reddish-brown hour-glass-shaped bands along its body.
Along the trail, if you hear a distinctive pecking sound high above your head, it may be the pileated woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus). These beautiful birds are the largest woodpecker found in Connecticut. They range from 16-19 inches long and are known for the male bird’s distinctive red crest extending from its forehead to the nape of its neck. On female pileated woodpeckers, the crest is gray. You may also see squirrels (Sciurus spp.), white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) or even a black bear (Ursus americanus). Another mammal that you may encounter along the trail-by sound or by evidence left behind-is the coyote (Canis latrans) a species of canine that might be regarded as a smaller version of the wolf.
Mountain Spring Nature Trail is also home to a large variety of flora, ranging from mushrooms that can be seen on the forest floor to the tallest of oaks to the vines and shrubs that help to knit it all together. At the bottom of the trail you can find a variety of mushrooms. Out of all the trees in Connecticut one stands out above the rest, this being the White Oak (Quercus alba), a large, strong tree known for its short stocky trunk and massive horizontal limbs. The Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), a 30 to 50-foot-long deciduous vine with probing tendrils of 5 to 8 branches, each ending in adhesive-like tips, is also prevalent.
Photos by Tina Delaney