Category Archives: nature

Emilie Ruecker Wildlife Sanctuary (Tiverton, RI)

Date Of Visit: December 14, 2016

Location: Seapowet Ave, Tiverton, RI (about an hour south of Boston and about 30 minutes  southeast of Providence, RI)

Cost: Free but donations are appreciated

Hours: Trails are open dawn until dusk

Parking: There is a lot which can accomodate about 5-10 cars

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Trail Difficulty/Size: 50 acres of easy but narrow trails, I couldn’t find a description of the trail lengths but it can’t be more than 4 or 5 miles total

Handicapped Accessible: No

Dog Friendly: No, Audubon sanctuaries are not pet friendly

Highlights:easy trails, blinds to hide behind bird watch, wildlife, streams and bodies of water, birds, scenic

Web Site: Emilie Ruecker Wildlife Sanctuary

Trail Map: Emilie Ruecker Trail Map

As a preface, I am trying to post about as many of my trips from earlier this year before the end of the year.  So, I may be posting pretty much every day until the new year and into the beginning of the new year to catch up and start fresh in 2017.  Lucky you… ( :

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Tucked away just over the Massachusetts and Rhode Island border is a serene little trail with lots of surprises.

One of the cutest surprises are these blinds that you can hide behind to photograph or observe birds.

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The trails at Emilie Ruecker are easy enough to navigate and they are mostly loops so it is easy to stay on the trail. There are also maps displayed throughout the sanctuary.  The trails can be narrow in some areas.  Also, if you go on the red trails, it’s easy to go off track.  Just keep looking for the color coded trees to stay on track.

One of the cool things are the openings along the trails that allow you to get closer to the water so you can view the ducks and other birds.

You’ll also find the occasional bench to rest at.

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Although there is lots of wildlife at the sanctuary, the highlight for me was the beautiful scenic views.

If you look closely, you may see the outline of a deer just behind the branch of this tree.  Unfortunately, my camera couldn’t focus in time to get a better photo.

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Much like this deer, the birds at Emilie Ruecker were hard to photograph.

The birds in the water proved more easy to photograph.

These birds were very easy to photograph, as long as I kept my distance.  They were hanging out on the other side of the road across from the sanctuary on some farm land.

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Mass Audubon North River Wildlife Sanctuary (Marshfield, MA)

 

Date Of Visit: December 4, 2016

Location: 2000 Main St, Marshfield, MA (about 45 minutes south of Boston, MA)

Hours: Mon-Fri, 8:30 am-4 pm
Sat (April-December), 9 am-4 pm
Closed Sundays (hours may change depending on the season)

Trails are open dawn to dusk

Cost: Members: Free
Nonmembers:
$4 Adults
$3 Children (2-12)
$3 Seniors (65+)

Parking: There are about a 15-20 parking spaces in the main parking area (street parking may also be available)

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Dog Friendly: No, Mass Audubon parks do not allow dogs

Handicapped Friendly: No, the trails are rocky and hard to navigate in some areas

Trail Size/Difficulty: 225 acres, 2.5 mile loop, easy trail difficulty with gentle inclines

Highlights: birds, wildlife, views of the water, boardwalks, nature center

Web Site: North River Wildlife Sanctuary

Trail Map: North River Wildlife Sanctuary Trail Map

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Nestled about half way between Boston, MA to the north and Caped Cod to the south, Marshfield, MA is a serene trail that also happens to bethe home to one of the best places for bird watching.

North River Wildlife Sanctuary actually has two sections to the trails.  At least I consider them two sections.  The trail from the nature education center

The trails at North River are easy with some slight inclines.  Boardwalks allow access over marshland and wetland.  However, not all of the trails are on clearly marked trails.  Look for yellow and blue marked trees to ensure you stay on the trails.  .

Along the trail closest to the nature center, there is a trail that is mostly dirt with soem gravel paths and boardwalks.  If you do take some side trails (I suggest you do), you may come across some trails like the one pictured above that is covered in leaves and not clearly defined.  Most trails are even with some minor inclines.

Along the trails there are some educational and recreational objects.

This sign identifies a certain type of bark and needles along the trail.  There is also a tent for visitors to play with.  There used to be two of them but they felt it made visitors too tense.

 

The Woodland Loop (the main trail from the educational center) leads to the Hannah Ames Trail (named after a former resident of the land).  The 2.5 mile loop is easy with some pretty views.  I heard lots of birds but failed to photograph many of them (this is atheme with my visit as you will see later).  But the views are pretty and a boardwalk covers some wetland.

The gem of the sanctuary, has to be the trail that leads to the boardwalk with the observation platform by the North River.  The signs for the River Loop trail, which veers off from the Woodland Loop after a quarter of a mile or so, are sort of tucked away.  As a reference point, if you reach the tent on the Woodland Loop you’ve gone too far.

Once you cross the busy Summer Street (be careful), you will see a trail that leads to an open area with views of the North River in the distance.

There is a well worn grass trail that leads to a boardwalk over a wetland area.  Trust me, there is a bird in the first photo in the bottom row.  I swear.

The boardwalk leads to a very cool observation platform with cattails and other plants and trees along the sides of the platform.

The views from the platform are very pretty.  I didn’t see much bird activity and it was a fairly cold day with a blustery wind during my visit.

After leaving the platform area, I noticed a somewhat hidden trail, the Red Maple Loop.  For some reason, perhaps because of the thick brush and because it is heavily wooded, this is where I saw and heard the most activity.  In fact, I saw some bucks while I entered the trail but they caught me by surprise and I couldn’t get their photo.  There were lots of birds on this trail though.  Again, they’re very hard to photograph.  But, I did manage to photograph a few of them.

This Mass Audubon site also utilizes solar power as part of their commitment to the environment.

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Below is a video from the observation platform by the North River.  As you can tell by the audio, it was a pretty windy day!


Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary (Sharon, MA)

Date Of Visit: November 13, 2016

Location: 293 Moose Hill Parkway, Sharon, MA (about 45 minutes south of Boston)

Cost: Members & Sharon Residents: Free
Nonmembers:
$4 Adults
$3 Children (2-12)
$3 Seniors (65+)

Size: 1,951 acres

Hours: Mon-Fri, 9 am-5 pm
Sat & Sun, 10 am-4 pm

Trails
Spring & Summer, 7am–7pm
Fall & Winter, 8 am-5 pm

Parking: There are about 60 parking spots in the lot

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Handicapped Acessible:  Some trails at the entrance may be flat enough to be considered handicapped accessible.  But, for the most part no.

Dog Friendly: No, Mass Audubon trails are not dog friendly

Highlights: miles of trails, observation lookout, wildlife, nature center, acticities throughout the year, fire tower (inaccessible during my visit)

Web Site: Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary

Trail Map: Trail Map

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Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary in Sharon, MA, may not have moose but it has everything else that makes a sanctuary the perfect place for a weekend hike.  Pretty flowers and trees, scenic views and wildlife are plentiful at Moose Hill.

The nature center at Moose Hill was decorated for the autumn season with pumpkins and a quilted figure.

The trails at Moose Hill are, for the most part, easy with some modest inclines, except for the trail up to the fire tower.  There is also a boardwalk over a red swamp area and some other boardwalks that are a nice touch.

The trail to the fire tower is challenging but it’s not too difficult.  It’s a short incline up to the tower.  Unfortunately, it appears to be off limits.  Usually, signs and barriers don’t stop me but I draw the line at barbed wire.  It’s too bad because the views must be amazing.

Instead of the fire tower, there is a great overlook at the Bluff Overlook on, oddly enough, the Bluff Trail.  Most of the trees have shed their leaves but yyou could still see some pretty colors out there.  I especially liked the branches in the first photoon the left hand side of the group of photos.

It is easy to find beautiful areas to photograph in Moose Hill all year round.  Ideally, foliage season would probably be the best time to visit.  I just missed the peak foliage season but it still looked beautiful.  The shapes of the trees and the way the rocks form borders in the different sections of the park make for great photo opportunities.  It really doesn’t take a lot of effort or talent to find the beauty of the sanctuary.

There is also a beekeeping harvest hive and a real hive located near the harvest hive.  Both looked inactive.  A bench sat precariously near the now destrcuted hive.  “Be At Peace” is engraved on the backing of the bench.  Good advice.

I was a little disappointed by the lack of visible wildlife during my visit.  I got there early (between 7 and 7:30) but I still didn’t see any of the larger wildlife that is known to be there such as deer, foxes and coyotes. I did see these little critters, though.

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chipmunk, Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary, 11-13-16

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red squirrel, Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary, 11-13-16

And this owl.

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Fooled ya!

But, this owl is an actual part of the sanctuary.  It’s part of the “unnatural trail.”  The unnatural trail is a family friendly trail that is geared more for children.  The trail is about a quarter of a mile that has objects that you normally don’t find on a trail (like shovels and shoes for instance).  The children are then asked to identify the randomly placed objects and answer questions about what was on the ttrail.

There is also the Billings Barn (the white building) and a maple sugar shack which campers use to make sugar from the sugar maple trees.  During maple sugar harves season, the campers and people at the sanctuary leave buckets attached to the trees to harvest the maple sugar from the trees.

 

 

 


Richardson Brook Wildlife Sanctuary (Tolland, MA)

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Date Visited: August 20, 2016

Location: New Boston Rd. (Route 57) Tolland, MA

Hours: Open everyday, 24 hours and day

Parking: There is not a designated parking lot or parking area.  You have to pull over to the side of the road on Route 57.

Cost: There is no fee but donations are appreciated

Trail Difficulty: Easy

Size: We took the 1.6 mile Brook nd Charlotte trail loops

Dog Friendly: Technically, no, MA Audubon does not allow dogs on their trails.  But, I suspect people do bring their dogs.

Highlights: brook, secluded, trails are not very steep, short and easy trail

Lowlights: trails are a little hard to follow (look for the blue and yellow marked trees), lack of visible wildlife, hard to find especially if you don’t have a passenger to help you look for it

Richardson Brook Wildlife Sanctuary

Richardson Brook Wildlife Sanctuary Trail Map

Richardson Brook is not the easiest trail to find.  In fact, it took a few turnarounds and nifty parking to find a safe place to park and enter the trail.

The trail for Richardson Brook is pretty easy.  The only catch is looking for the marked trees to follow since the trail is not clearly defined all the time and it can get a little confusing, even with the markings on the trees to follow. It could be very easy to get lost.  Visions of Camp Crystal Lake flashed before my eyes a few times.

The big payoff is the brook which was not running very hard during my visit.  But it was still very pretty.

We saw some little critters and colorful mushrooms along the way.

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Water bugs, frogs, salamanders and baby salamanders were abundant, even if they did try to camouflage themselves.

Although we did not see many birds we did hear them and we did see evidence of other animals.  I am also convinced that if you were determined to find other wildlife you wouldn’t be disappointed.  If you had a lot of time to spend and you went off trail you could definitely find bigger wildlife.  Just look out for Jason!

The video below of Richardson Brook really captures the beauty of the trail.

Similar Places I Have Visited In New England:

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Cascading Waters (Worcester, MA)

 


Dorrs Pond (Manchester, NH)

Date Visited: August 7, 2016

Location: Dorrs Pond is part of Livingston Park which is located at 244 Hookset Rd, Manchester, NH (off Daniel Webster Highway)

Hours: Open 24 hours (use your best judgment if you go at nighttime)

Cost: Free

Parking:  There are about 70 or so parking spots by Dorrs Pond.  There is also additional parking by the play area and field by Livingston Park.

Dog Friendly: Yes

Size: 1.2 mile loop with some short side trails.

Time To Allot For Visit: 1 or 2 hours

Fun For One: Yes

Highlights: abundant wildlife, popular trails for runner, cyclists and walkers, pretty views, very well maintained, benches for sitting, skating on the pond during the winter

Lowlights: short loop (only 1.2 mile) so many runners have to complete the loop several times to get a good workout, some side trails end abruptly at parking lots or just stop without going anywhere

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Once an artificial pond to serve the people of Manchester, Dorrs Pond now serves a scenic retreat for cyclists, runners, nature lovers and dogs.

“hidden gem” is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot.  But, the photos below will show how this description is apt for Dorrs Pond.  In fact, I, and many people I talked to about it, had never been to this pond or ever even heard about before I went there.

One of the great things about Dorrs Pond is it is not a particularly difficult trail.  The trails are Dorrs Pond are pretty level with a few small inclines

The views at Dorrs Pond are beautiful.  Vivid greens and a variety of green, purple and other vibrant colors dot the landscape.

One of the best parts of Dorrs Pond is the wildlife.  There is a variety of birds, amphibians and other animals at the pond.

I also found this interesting shelter.  Unfortunately, no one was home.

During the winter, skating is allowed on the pond.  Also, there is a play area, playing field, restrooms and pool for children (and some adults) in addition to Dorrs Pond at Livingston Park.

Doors Pond is a great place to bring your dog.  The trail is not too long and the inclines are not very steep.  And it was a perfect day for taking your pooch out for a stroll.  I saw lots of dogs at Dorrs Pond.  Here are a few of the cute dogs at the park Sunday:

Katie, a 9 month old German Shepherd.

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Finley, a Cavachon who will be 2 in September

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Reagan, a 4 month old Golden Retriever

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and Jackson, a 2 year old Basenji Greyhound.

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Similar Places In New England I Have Visited:

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Ames Nowell State Park

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Cutler Park

 

 


Robinson State Park (Feeding Hills, MA)

Dates Visited: July 3 & 4, 2016

Location: 428 North St, Feeding Hills (Agawam), MA

Cost: $8 for MA vehicle, $10 for non-MA vehicle

Parking: There are about 50 parking spots in the park itself at various designated parking areas.  There are also several entrances besides the actual entrance to the park where you can park for free but there are gates at these entrances and you have to walk rather than drive to the beach and fields in the park.

Time To Allot For Visit: 3 to 4 hours to hike the entire park

Size of the park: 800 acres, 5 miles of frontage on the Westfield River

Dog Friendly: Yes

Highlights: walking trails, stream, beach, picnic area, fields, lots of wildlife, great for bikers, joggers, walkers and dogs

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Known for its abundant wildlife, long paved trail and scenic views of the Westfield River, Robinson State Park is one of my favorite parks to visit.  I love the paved, winding trail and abundant wildlife.  I have jogged the main trail hundreds, if not thousands, of times.  The wide paved trail is wide enough to accommodate joggers, bikers, walkers and even vehicles (cars are allowed on the main paved trail during the summer months only).

About a mile or a little more than a mile from the main entrance there is a small beach next to a grassy area for people to relax and sun themselves.  If you’re lucky, you may even see a tadpole.

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One thing to keep in mind is there are a lot of bugs in the area.  Since it is located by a stream of water, bugs and mosquitoes are a real problem, especially during the summer months.  So, either cover up or use bug spray if you plan on hiking the various trails.  Another downside to the park, if you want to call it that, is that some trails just seem to end…right in people’s backyards.  This happened on two of the side trails I ventured on.  No biggie.  You just turn around and come back the way you came.  But it can be anticlimactic and annoying (for the homeowner as much as it would be for you).

The Westfield River runs along the paved trail giving off some pretty views.  There are some side trails you can use to get a better view.

There is a pond just down the trail from the beach.  I heard lots of frogs, toads and other wildlife in the pond but they are pretty well hidden.

Robinson Park is also teeming with wildlife.  In fact, Westfield, one of the cities the park borders, is known for its black squirrels.  Unfortunately, I didn’t see any during my visit or at least none that I could photograph.   But, there were plenty of other animals visible at the park the days I visited.

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There is also a pond and a variety of trees, plants, flowers and berries along the trails.

The trails are well defined and there are a number of bridges at the park.

Because it has such a wide main trail and lots of area to roam, Robinson Park is a great place to walk your dog and I ran into quite a few cute dogs during my visits.

Oliver is an 11 year old Collie and Chow mix.

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Josie is a 9 year old Cocker Spaniel.

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And Bruno is a 2 year old Shepherd and Lab mix rescue.

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Please connect with me on Facebook to view photos, videos and other posts I don’t include in my blog! New England Nomad

 

 


V.I.N.S. (Quechee, VT)

Date Visited: May 13, 2016

Location: 6565 Woodstock R d, Quechee, VT

Cost:

Adults: $14.50
Seniors (62 plus): $13.50
Youth (4-17): $12.50
Children 3 and under: Free
VINS Members: Free

 

 

Hours:

April 9 – October 31: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
November 1 – April 8: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Highlights: pretty, rare birds, bird shows, informative and friendly staff, kid friendly, museum and nature science center with a lot of informational exhibits

Parking: ample parking by the visitor center

http://www.vinsweb.org/

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Normally, I don’t like watching birds or any animal behind glass or a cage.  I’ve always felt a bitter sense of irony watching an eagle or any other majestic animal being on display and limited in such a way.  But, the Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS) is not a zoo or museum as much as it is a sanctuary.  VINS is a rehabilitation and rescue center.  Every bird there has either been injured and would not be able to survive on its own or have never experienced the imprinting process (the process by which a newly born learns basic skills from its parent) with their natural birth parents so they may have a difficult time existing in the wild.  VINS is saving these birds from a likely short-lived life of hardship.  Instead of putting the bird down, as many people might choose to do, VINS is able to keep some birds alive in a sheltered place with caring caregivers.

Located an hour and a half from Manchester, NH and just over an hour south of Burlington, VT, VINS is home to over a dozen birds and not all of the birds are from the New England area.

This Snowy Owl who suffered a severe fracture of the left humerus and a fracture to the right metacarpal which limited it flight ability.  The owl was injured by a blast of hot air coming from an engine at an airport in New York.  The owl is believed to have hatched from an egg prior to 2014.

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Due to an unknown injury, this Bald Eagle had to have his right wing partially amputated.  He came from Columbian Park Zoo in Lafayette, Indiana in 2002.  He is believed to have hatched from his egg in 1996.

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The red tail hawk below came to VINS from a rehab facility in Cape Neddick, ME.  The bird arrived at VINS in 1998 after sustaining a permanent injury to his right wing after being hit by a car.  The hatch year for the bird is 1998.

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This sleepy looking owl is an Eastern Screech Owl.  The owl, which came from a rehabilitation center in Virginia, was hit by a car.  The injuries were so severe the left eye of the owl was removed and the right eye was permanently injured.

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The male Broad Winged Hawk below, who arrived at VINS in 2009, injured its left elbow when it fell out of its nest.  The joint was diagnosed and considered to be permanently damaged.

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This male Great Grey Owl suffered damage to his right eye.

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Understandably, some of the birds were camera shy like this Northern Harrier Hawk.

Not all of the birds are in cages or behind wire fencing.  This owl is blind in one eye but he or she is still able to walk with the staff member around the park.

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The grounds of VINS is well manicured and you can hear birds flying around the trees throughout your visit.  There are also various displays, memorials and works of art on the grounds.  The Jeffords Campus For Environmental Education is dedicated to Elizabeth Daley Jeffords and former Vermont Senator James Jeffords for their commitment to environmental education.  Sen. Jeffords was known for his independent political affiliation after leaving the republican party in 2001, in the long tradition of independent Vermont senators.

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There is also a museum and science center at VINS as well as nature trails on the premises.  VINS also holds live bird exhibitions.  They also have summer camps for children which are very popular.

See below for some of the videos of the shows.