Category Archives: birds

Independence Park (Beverly, MA)

Date Of Visit: July 14, 2018

Location: 33 Lothrop St, Beverly, MA (about 30 minutes northeast of Boston, MA)

Hours: Open daily sunrise to sunset

Parking: On street parking is available but limited. I did not see a parking lot at or near the beach.

Handicapped Accessible: Yes, certain areas are handicapped accessible. The beach is accessible through a paved walkway to the right of the beach.

Dog Friendly: Yes

Highlights: scenic, boating and other water activities, historical memorials, fishing, wildlife

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History, beauty and recreation await you at Independence Park.

The picturesque park offers scenic views and benches to sit.

Although the bench and path at the park are pretty and provide beautiful views, they do not lead to the beach.

 

I don’t usually take artistic license with the photos I take. But as I was editing this photo, I noticed how the red really stood out in the boat at the front of the group of boats.

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Although it may be possible to get to the beach from the path by the benches, a fence and rocky area prevent easy access to the beach.

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There are entrances to beach are a short jaunt to the right and left of the monuments at the park. And, to the right of the park is a paved walkway to the beach.

The beach offers beautiful views, a clean beach area and a jetty to fish off. Rumor has it striped bass (“stripers”) are abundant in the area.

 

There are a lot of birds and other wildlife at the beach.

 

The beach is a popular spot for paddle boarders, surfers and boaters.

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If you’re in the area and you want to try paddle boarding, kayaking or even winter paddling or snow shoeing during the winter, try Coast To Coast Paddle. Aaron, seen in the photo below, was getting ready to take a few paddlers out while I was taking photographs.

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As the name would suggest, Independence Park is more than just a haven for sun seekers and paddle boarders. It also has a rich history.

One of the plaques at the park states that in 1775 the first authorized armed ship, The Hanna, set sail in those waters to capture British vessels. Just standing in an area that played such a pivotal role in our history is pretty freegin cool when you think about it.

There are also cannons, monuments and flags on the grounds of the park.

 

The park is dog friendly and there were quite a few dogs at the beach while I was there.

Below are just a few of the cute dogs I saw during my visit.

Koa (on the left) is a 3 month old mixed breed dog. Frank (on the right) is a Golden Retriever.

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Polly is a 13 year old mixed breed dog.

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Willow is a 4 month old Englisg Cream Golden Retriever.

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(Oliver) Twist is a 5 year old Schnauzer Cairn Terrier mix (aka Carnauzer).

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Poppy is a Greyhound.

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Jade is an 8 year old mixed breed dog.

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Chicopee Memorial State Park (Chicopee, MA)

Date Of Visit: May 26, 2018

Location: 570 Burnett Rd., Chicopee, MA

Cost: MA residents: $8, Non-MA Vehicles: $15 (seasonal passes are also available – info on seasonal passes can be found here)

Hours:

Memorial Day – Labor Day

Sunday – Saturday:
9:00 am-7:00 pm

Labor Day – Memorial Day (weather dependent)

Sunday – Saturday:
8:00 am-4:00 pm

Parking: There are several parking areas that can accommodate roughly a few hundred cars. Parking does fill up quickly during summer weekend days.

Handicappped Accessible: Yes, the beach is accessible to all. But, some trails may not be accessible.

Dog Friendly: Yes

Park Size/Trail Difficulty: 562 acres/Easy to Slightly Moderate difficulty

Tip(s):

  • Leave early (at least on warm days) – there was a line of cars waiting to get in when we arrived at 8:55 (the park opened at 9)

Fun Facts:

  • Chicopee State Memorial Park was formerly known as the Cooley Brook Reservoir and Watershed
  • The park was the site of reservoirs built in 1896, 1912 and 1926 to provide water for the city of Chicopee
  • “Chicopee” is a word originating in the Algonquian languages of eastern North America meaning “violent waters”

Fitbit Stats: 2.5 miles hiked, 433 calories burned, 5,333 steps

Highlights: beach, trails for hiking, running and cycling, wildlife, Vietnam memorial, fishing, picnic tables, pretty landscapes, sites for barbecuing, cross country skiing and snow shoeing during the winter (or more like fall, winter and spring in New England)

Website: Chicopee Memorial State Park

Trail Map: Chicopee Memorial State Park Trail Map

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The main attraction for most visitors is the 25 acre pond that serves as a beach, restricted fishing area and area for dogs to play and swim in.

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One visitor who was fishing with his grandson told me they caught kippers (a whole herring) and a large mouth bass.

The beach is the most popular part of the beach. There were lifeguards on duty (seasonally). While I was there, the little ones were busying themselves with a game of “Marco Polo.”

The views of the pond are pretty spectacular.

The paved trails, which are ideal for some cyclists and runners, are easy to slightly moderately difficult in some areas. They are manageable for most people of all age groups. For the more daring, there are some unpaved side trails to explore.

During our hike, I encountered a variety of wildlife. From the small minnows, robins and red winged blackbirds to the larger ducks and Canadian Geese, there is a variety of wildlife to appreciate at the park.

I also noticed this interesting web-like cocoon on a tree during my hike.

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Upon further research, I found out this is a “caterpillar cocoon.” Tent caterpillars spin these large, web-like structures in trees or other plants to protect the developing larvae.

Chicopee Memorial also has picnic areas and barbecue grills. They also allow people to play music at a “reasonable volume” as Milton would say (bonus points if you get that reference).

As you exit the park, there is a memorial dedicated to all of the people from Chicopee who served and died in the Vietnam conflict. A very sober reminder during this Memorial Day weekend.

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Chicopee Memorial park is a haven for dogs and dog lovers. I saw numerous dogs during our visit. One of the more popular areas for the dogs and their parents to congregate is the area just past the beach. An area is designated for the dogs to use. It is in this section of the pond that I met Maggie, a Black Lab who turns 2 tomorrow (5-27). Maggie had a fun time retrieving balls that her dad dutifully threw for her to fetch. She would often return the retrieved balls to me which was sweet.

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Holly, my mom’s 11 month old Dutch Shepherd mix, loved the views from the side of the trail. I suspect you will be seeing more of her in my future photo shoots in Western MA.

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As I was about to leave the park, I saw Bailey and I decided to get her photo. Bailey is an 11 month old Black Lab/Shepherd mix.

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Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary (Marshfield, MA)

Date Of Visit: November 5, 2017

Location: Winslow Cemetery Rd, Marshfield, MA (about 30 minutes southwest of Boston, MA)

Hours: Trails are open dawn until dusk

Cost:

ADMISSION

Members: Free
Nonmembers: $3 adults, $2 children (2-12), & seniors (65+)
EBT Participants: Free for up to 4 people when you show your EBT card

Parking: There is a parking lot for about 15-20 cars.

Handicapped Accessible: No

Dog Friendly” No, Mass Audubon Parks do not allow pets

Website:Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary

Trail Map: Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary Trail Map

Highlights: easy trails, scenic, foliage during the fall, wildlife, blinds to view animals, boardwalks over swamp lands

Tips: Although the website includes prices for admission, when I went tp the sanctuary there was no place to pay a fee

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A Mass Audubon park, Daniel Webster is home to a variety of birds,  winding trails and breathtaking views.

One of the many things that struck me about the park is just how set apart the park is from the hustle and bustle of the city.  I’m so used to traveling to parks that are located next to busy roadways and busy areas.  It is refreshing to be able to get away from the city without having to travel too far.

Daniel Webster Sanctuary was still holding on to some of the foliage that it is known for.

There are several bird feeders throughout the park, mostly at the entrance to the park.  The bird feeders attract a variety of birds and other critters.  Turtles, frogs and other mammals populate the sanctuary.   Northern harriers, an eastern coyote and a white-tailed deer are also known to visit the sanctuary.

These unusual bird feeders are designed to feed Purple Martins.  The small enclosures and the overall design is meant to protect the birds from other predators like the harrier hawks that hunt the area.

There are two blinds and the main entrance building from where you can photograph wildlife and nature in peace and quiet.

The trails at Daniel Webster are easy with a few gentle inclines.  There are also a few boardwalks which take you over red maple swamps to some areas with pretty views.  I especially like how the leaves on the ground and the way the trees and their branches almost made some of the trails seem like they were tunnels.  There are 5 walking trail loops at the park with 3.5 miles of trails in total and arounf every turn is another beautiful view.

Below is a video of one of the residents at the park at Daniel Webster Sanctuary from ( a weasel)  removing one off her babies from a shelter.  The video is from the Youtube account of  Migration Productions.  They have some wonderful videos.


Five Days Of Foliage Day #4 – Goddard Memorial State Park (Warwick, RI)

Date Of Visit: November 1, 2017

Location: 1095 Ives Road, Warwick, RI

Hours: Open daily sunrise to sunset

Cost: Free (but there are fees to use fields, gazebos and other facilities)

Parking: There are several parking areas

Handicapped Accessible: Yes, some areas of the park are handicapped accessible

Dog Friendly: Yes

Website: Goddard Memorial State Park

Highlights: 490 acre park with a 9 hole golf course, playing fields, beach, performance center and equestrian show area with bridle trails.  The foliage isn’t bad either.

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To borrow a term coined by my northern Vermont neighbors, “stick season” is fast approaching.  Stick season is the fall and winter transition that occurs after the leaves have fallen but also before snow has settled on the trees.  This season is not just common to Vermont though.

Indicative of “stick season, I noticed many of the trees at Goddard Memorial State Park had already lost most of their leaves.  Yet, there were still some decent foliage opportunities along the shore of the beach and park.  The densely wooded Goddard has 62 deciduous (trees that have leaves that change) and 19 evergreen species (a species of tree that does not change color throughout the year).  So, there were a variety of trees to find foliage on.

Considered one of the best parks in Rhode Island, Goddard Memorial State Park’s 490 acres of land along Greenwich Cove and Greenwich Bay in Warwick, RI.

Goddard Memorial State Park has an equestrian show area and 18 miles of bridle paths for horse riders to enjoy.  While I was there I did happen upon a few riders.

I had never been to Goddard before.  I only learned about the park the day before after a quick search for the best parks in Rhode Island.  And the reviewers didn’t miss their mark.  The best part of the park may be the variety of activities and Goddard Park also has a 9 hole golf course, 11 playing fields, a canoe launch, a beach that allows swimming and a performance center.  With its pretty waterscapes, extensive hiking trails and picnic areas, Goddard is definitely a great place to take the family.

Read more view more photos about my trip to Goddard Memorial State Park here…

 


Great Island Common (New Castle, NH)

Date Of Visit: September 23, 2017

Location: 301 Wentworth Rd. (Route 1B), New Castle, NH,  (1 hour northeast of Boston, MA, 1 hour southeast of Concord, NH)

Hours: Open daily 9 a.m. until 9 p.m.

Cost:

New Castle Residents:
– No admission charge if vehicle has current resident sticker.
– Residents may invite up to 25 guests at no charge – Over 25 guests, admission fees apply.
– Resident must be present for all guests.
Non-Residents:
– Admission charged from May to the end of September.
General Admission Fees
– Individuals:
0-5 yrs old free
6 to 65 years old $4.00
65 and older $2.00
Handicapped $1.00

Parking: There are about 50 or more parking spots available in the parking area

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes, seasonally (pets are not allowed in the park or on the beach from May 15 to September 15)

Website: Great Island Common

Highlights: lighthouses, beach, places to grill, pavilions

Tips:

  • When you enter the park, you must turn right.  The parking area is at the end of the circular paved road
  • If you want to use a pavilion, you may have to call ahead and reserve the area

 

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No other name than Great Common Island may be more apt for this park.  Except it’s not really an island.  But, it is great.

The park, with attached beach, sits on the shore of New Castle ( a small town of 968 according to their 2010 census) just outside of Portsmouth, NH).  The park and beach area are only 32 acres.  But what it lacks in area it makes up for in beauty and charm.

The park offers some great views of the water.  It is a good place to watch the waves crash against the rocks, although the waves weren’t too strong during my visit.

Great Island Common is popular with fishing enthusiasts, boaters and the occasional bird.

You can view two lighthouses from Great Island Common.

Whaleback Lighthouse was established in 1830.  The granite lighthouse that stands there now was built in 1872 and it was automated in 1963.

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Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse, just down the road from the park, is also visible from Great Island Common.  During the summer, there are open houses at the lighthouse on Sundays from mid May to late October from 1-5.  Since I was visiting on a Saturday I was not able to attend the open house.  Next to the lighthouse (to the left of the lighthouse in the photo above) is Coast Guard Station Portsmouth Harbor and Fort Constitution.  In the distance, past the lighthouse, you can see the foliage has just started to begin.

Wood Island Life Saving Station in Kittery, Maine, is also visible from the park. In 1827, Wood Island was given to the federal government so the U.S. Navy could build barracks.  However, it would eventually be used to quarantine Spanish-American War prisoners who had Yellow Fever.  It is presently not in use.

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One of the biggest attractions at the park is a sculpture of a painter by an easel working on the scenic skyline.

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Pretty good painting of me.  It looks so life-like.

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Great Island Common is not just a park.  A beach is also attached to the park.

The park is spacious for kids to play in with lots of big trees for shade.

Erected in 1984, the memorial honors all of the people of New Castle who have served the country in all wars and conflicts.  Two benches sit next to the memorial, one on each side of it.

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Great Island Common is dog friendly except from May 15 to September 15.  Luckily, I was able to visit the week after ban ended.  It was a picture perfect day with a calm breeze.  So, it was a great day to bring your dog out!

Miley is a 8 year old Yorkie Poodle.

Tuck is a 6 month Cocka Poo (Cocker Spaniel & Poodle mix)

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Remy (on the left) is a 10 year old Puggle and Phoebe (On the right) is a 1 and a half year old Puggle.

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Jaelo (pronounced “J Lo”)is a 10 year old Puggle.

Below is a video by the shore of Great Island Common.

Posted below is a drone video of the Great Island Common area on Paul Moore’s YouTube page

 


Retreat Farm (Brattleboro, VT)

Date Of Visit: August 6, 2017

Location: 350 Linden St, Brattleboro, VT

Hours: Open Wed-Sun 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. (closed Mon & Tue)

Cost: $7 for adults, $5 for children and seniors, free admission for children under 2

Trail Size/Difficulty: roughly 1.5 miles, Easy

Fitbit Stats: 1.59 miles, 3,327 steps, 297 calories burned

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Parking: There is parking for about 20 vehicles in the parking lot

Website: Retreat Farm

Retreat Trail Map: Retreat Trail Map

Highlights: animals, educational, trail, family friendly

Tips:

  • Don’t forget to take the roughly 1.5 mile Nature Trail behind the farm
  • you can get in the pens with some of the animals
  • if you do go on the trail, try going up the “Skyline Spur” trail
  • follow the signs to the Nature Trail or Lil’ Lamb Loop to access the shorter mile long trail behind the farm
  • Located right next to Grafton Village Cheese Co

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It’s easy to find Retreat Farm.  Just follow the pinwheels.  If you’re lucky, you might even be able to take one home.

The signs and some of the advertising for the Retreat Farm tout it as a “children’s farm” but it is fun for the entire family.

Retreat Farm has a variety of birds and animals in their barn.  They also allow you to go into the animal pens of some of the animals and pat some of them.

There are also three piglets: Basil, Olive and Rosemary.  They moved around a lot.  So, it was hard to keep track of each one.  But, I am pretty sure Rosemary is the first one pictured with the white and brown pattern.

Carlos, an 11 year old Brahma-Red Holstein bull, has been a resident for some time at the farm.  Standing over 7 feet tall, Carlos is truly a gentle giant.  In fact, he is so gentle visitors can feed him by hand.

Naturally, there are lots of toys and activities for children to partake in and places for adults or younger people to sit while their children or nieces or nephews play.

There is also a short trail (about 1.5 miles) behind the farm.  The trail is actually part of a much longer 9 mile Retreat Trail.  But, as long as you stay on the trail behind the farm you should not end up on this larger trail.

I found people of all ages and fitness levels on the trail.  It’s pretty straight with a few inclines.  But, I would rate it as being easy.  There is one very shallow and narrow stream that you will have to cross.  You can basically walk right through it.  So, it’s not a big obstacle.  The views are very nice on the trail.  There are also various plants planted along the trail such as False Solomon Seal.

If you do decide to go on the shorter trail and avoid the 9 mile trail, follow the signs to the Nature Trail or the Lil Lamb Loop.

Along the main trail, there is a side trail wit a staircase called Skyline Spur.

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The short flight of stairs take you up to an area where, during the winter, there is a ski jump.  This ski jump will be used as one of the venues for the Olympic trials for the next Olympics.

Pets are allowed on the trails behind the Retreat Farm, which are open to hikers and snow shoers year round.  I saw this cute dog on the trail.  Avive, a friendly 2 and a half year old Irish Setter, greeted me when I got off the Skyline Spur trail.

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One of the gems of the much longer Retreat Trail is the Retreat Tower.  It’s not very far from the farm.  Due to time constraints, I could not take the trail to the tower.  However, Brandy Ellen and her companion were able to hike to it, take some photos and provide a good synopsis of their hike and a summary of the history of the tower. It has quite a storied and sad past.

Take A Hike…

 

 


Windsor Lake (North Adams, MA)

Date Of Visit: July 1, 2017

Location: George’s Fair Way, North Adams, MA (almost 3 hours northwest of Boston, MA and 1 hour east of Albany, NY)

Hours: gates close at 6 p.m. not sure when they open.

Cost: $5

Parking: There is room for about 30 cars or so in the parking lot

Handicapped Accessible: Yes, some areas are handicapped accessible

Dog Friendly:No

Highlights: lake, boat launch, wildlife, beach, campground, play area for children, fishing, concession stand, Frisbee golf course

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One of the many lakes in western Massachusetts, Windsor Lake is one of the lesser known lakes in the area.

With its sheer beauty and family friendly activities, the $5 entrance fee (there is an additional fee if you park your RV or camper at their campground) is well worth it.  If you are a resident you may also qualify for a parking sticker.

Despite its scenic backdrop, well maintained beach and convenient boat launch, Windsor Lake still remains one of the hidden secrets of the northwestern region of Massachusetts.

Since it is such a natural beauty, it is very easy to capture the beauty of lake Windsor.

The trees, plants and flowers at Windsor Lake highlight the beauty around you at every turn.

There are also two play areas for children, picnic areas and even a concession stand at the lake.  And, yes, I so wanted to hit that pinata below.

Fishing and rafting or boating are popular activities at the lake.

There are also a variety of birds, insects and other animals evident at the lake.

Today’s Nomad featured blogger is WordPress blogger, poet artist and North Adams based Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts student Erica Barreto.  Erica posted about an interesting event called The Creativity Capsule that was hosted at Windsor Lake earlier this year.