Spring 2023 Newsletter - Windmill Hill Pinnacle Association

Check out news and events from the Windmill Hill Pinnacle Association in Vermont, including our annual meeting and spring wildflower walk, an illustration by local artist Courtney Venable, a field note about spring peepers, snapshots from recent hikes, and a remembrance of board member Libby Mills.

Check out news and events from the Windmill Hill Pinnacle Association in Vermont, including our annual meeting and spring wildflower walk, an illustration by local artist Courtney Venable, a field note about spring peepers, snapshots from recent hikes, and a remembrance of board member Libby Mills.


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Pinnacle News

Windmill Hill Pinnacle Association

Spring 2023

Snapshots from Recent Hikes and Workshops on Pinnacle Lands

In February, a small group of

Windmill Hill Pinnacle Association

board members led by Jay Maciejowski

(in the rust-orange jacket in left-hand

photo) took a hike to look at a

prospective trail at Lily Pond

Highlands, the 615 acres in Athens,

Brookline, and Townshend that

the Pinnacle recently acquired and


This land includes woodland and

wetland habitats, pristine ponds, and

views of the Pinnacle ridgeline. We are

also working on an area for parking

and will keep you posted about it and

about a trail at Lily Pond Highlands as

we know more.

In March, forester, tracker, and

environmental educator Lynn Levine

(at right in right-hand photo) led a

“Tracks and Trees” workshop with

a dozen attendees along Bemis Hill

Road in Westminster West. This walk

was hosted by the Pinnacle and was

adjacent to Pinnacle land.

Along with looking at deer tracks in

fresh snow, the group identified birch

and maple trees by their bark and

branch patterns. Thank you to Lynn

Levine for sharing her expertise with

us. Participants also each got a copy of

Lynn’s book Mammal Tracks and Scat:

Life-size Pocket Guide.

Photo credits: Eastern bluebird photo by Madeline Bergstrom; Lily Pond and Tracks and Trees photos by John Gregg


Illustration by local artist Courtney Venable, whose work you can find on Instagram at @dogtooth_violet. Pictured

(clockwise from top left) are long-spurred violet, Eastern phoebe, Solomon’s seal, red trillium, spotted salamander, trout

lily, large-flowered bellwort, spring peeper, short-tailed weasel, and hobblebush viburnum.

Join Us for Our Free Spring Events

Saturday, April 22, 2023: Annual Meeting, 4 p.m.

Congregational Church of Westminster West

All WHPA members and supporters are invited

to attend our annual meeting on Saturday, April

22, at 4 p.m., held in person at the Congregational

Church of Westminster West (44 Church Street).

Board president Jennifer Latham will share news

and updates on our conservation work and

announce the Volunteer of the Year award.

Our featured speaker will be Daron Tansley,

presenting his photos of wildlife and scenery from

Pinnacle land and elsewhere in northern New

England. We will also screen a short documentary

about the late Libby Mills.

Sunday, May 7, 2023: Wildflower Walk, 11 a.m.

Westminster West

Sarah Waldo and Lisa Chase will lead a spring

wildflower walk, which is limited to 12 people. To

RSVP, please email Sarah Waldo at sarah_waldo@

hotmail.com or call her at 802-387-6036. The event

will be held rain or shine.

Please wear sturdy footwear and meet outside

the Congregational Church of Westminster

West (44 Church Street). No prior knowledge is

needed, but if you’d like to learn about Vermont

wildflowers before or after the walk, check out

the Windmill Hill Pinnacle Association’s online

spring wildflower guide.

Field Note: Learn About Spring Peepers, a Vocal Sign of the Season

By Liz Bergstrom

If you’ve been near a pond

or wetland in springtime in the

eastern half of the United States,

chances are you’ve heard the loud,

high-pitched chorus of at least a

few spring peepers. (Or perhaps a

few hundred.) The spring peeper

(Pseudacris crucifer) can be found

from Quebec to Florida, and as far

west as Texas.

These frogs are small, only

about the length of a paperclip,

and they weigh only about as

much as a nickel. The females tend

to be slightly larger than the males.

Here are 10 things you may

not know about these common

Vermont amphibians:

1. You’re much more likely to

hear this frog than to see it.

Spring peepers are usually

tan or brown with a dark

“X” marking on their backs.

However, they can actually

change their skin color to be

lighter or darker in order to

better camouflage themselves

with their current surroundings.

2. Spring peepers are carnivores. Not surprisingly

given their diminutive size, they eat small

prey such as flies, spiders, ants, and beetles.

During their tadpole stage, they feed on algae.

3. Only the males of the species sing, and they

do so to attract a mate. Females seem to prefer

mates that make louder, more frequent chirps.

4. A female peeper can lay up to 1,200 eggs per

brood. She deposits them singly or in small

clusters on plants or leaf litter, instead of in a

single mass as many other frog species do.

5. Although spring peepers are common and

widespread, they rely heavily on wetlands for

habitat and breeding grounds, so they benefit

from wetland and pond conservation. They

also breed in vernal pools—shallow pools that

can dry up in summer and fall.

6. This frog contains a natural substance similar

Spring peepers are known for their loud, high-pitched singing from

March to May. Photo: Peter Paplanus/Flickr Creative Commons

temperatures. Nevertheless, the animal needs

to hide under a log or nestle into leaf litter for

extra insulation during the winter.

7. Snakes, salamanders, and birds are the main

predators of this species.

8. Male spring peepers begin to call as early as

mid-March in southern Vermont. They have a

special throat pouch that inflates with air (see

Courtney Venable illustration on facing page).

9. While nighttime is their usual time for a

serenade, peepers may also sing during the

day if the weather is warm and rainy.

10. A peeper tadpole grows into an adult within

two to three months, and adults can live for

three to four years.

Visit our website, WindmillHillPinnacle.org, for updates on our hikes and other upcoming free programs.

Learn more about spring peepers from the Vermont

All are welcome!

Fish and Wildlife Department, National Wildlife


Federation, 2021 and Northern Woodlands magazine.

to antifreeze that helps it survive freezing


Remembering Libby Mills and Her Contributions to Conservation

Longtime WHPA board member Libby Mills,

a driving force in so much of what we have

accomplished, died on Jan. 12, 2023, after a brief


Libby, who had recently turned 94, returned

to her native Maine for her final days and was

in a beloved spot near the water, surrounded by

loving friends and family.

She was a board member for almost 30 years and

did it all—working with landowners to expand

the Pinnacle’s network of conserved land; lining

up funding with state officials and other donors;

rooting out invasive species on work crews;

leading wildflower walks; hiking the entire trail

system in sections at age 91; and inspiring other

board members with her passion and delight

in the land. Libby served as a longtime board

member of the Putney Mountain Association, as


Libby was also the co-author, with Rosalyn

Shaoul, of the invaluable history book The

Windmill Hill Pinnacle Association’s Story: How did

they get all that land?

Hundreds of people attended a celebration

of life service for Libby on Saturday, March 18,

at The Putney School, where she and her first

husband, Bob Mills, taught for decades. Speakers

ranged from her son Matt to former students to

WHPA board member Camilla Roberts.

Libby Mills standing in a patch of skunk currant

(Ribes glandulosum) and holding a leaf in her hand.

Photo by Andrew Toepfer

We take solace in knowing that Libby lives on in the miles and miles of woods she helped protect

and in the hearts of people across northern New England who cherish her memory.

Help us save time, printing costs, and trees by subscribing to our email newsletter. You can sign up

by visiting our website, WindmillHillPinnacle.org.

In order to foster habitat conservation, watershed integrity, education, and the enduring connection of people

to the natural world, we acquire and provide access to lands along the Windmill Hill Ridgeline and nearby areas in

Vermont. The WHPA conserves more than 2,700 acres and maintains 27 miles of trails.

PO Box 584

Saxtons River, VT 05154

Email: WHPAtrails@gmail.com

Website: WindmillHillPinnacle.org

Facebook: facebook.com/WindmillHillPinnacle


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