Tag Archives: birds

Bradley Palmer State Park (Topsfield, MA)

Date Of Visit: June 1, 2019

Location: 40 Asbury St, Topsfield, MA

Hours: Open daily from sunrise to sunset

Cost: Daily parking fee charged Memorial Day weekend through October 31

MA resident  $5

Non-MA resident  $10

There is a pay station located at the parking lot.

Parking: There is a parking area for about 50 or so cars.

Trails Size and Difficulty: 721 acres, easy to moderate

Universally Accessible: Yes, the main trail is universally accessible

Dog Friendly: Yes

Website: Bradley Palmer State Park Website

Bradley Palmer State Park Trail Map

Highlights: equestrian trails, meadows, plants, flowers, scenic views, wildlife, historic site, wading pool (June 26 – September 7 Open daily, 9:30am to 7:00pm)

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Named after noted attorney and businessman Bradley Palmer, Bradley Palmer State Park has numerous trails for cycling, horse riding or just hiking as well as beauty unmatched by most parks in the area.

There is a variety of wildlife at Bradley Palmer.  Snakes (garters mostly), frogs and toads and birds are abundant at the park.  I was careful to not get too close to the Fowler’s toad as it has poison glands that meet at the back of their eyes.  Actually, I had no idea about this while I took the photo.  It was only after I had somewhat foolishly gotten close to the frog, taken the photo and researched what type of frog it was that I found about this.  I am always careful to not disturb the wildlife though.  The only reason it looks like I was very close was because of my telephoto lens.  But it is something to keep in mind next time.

 

There are also numerous equestrian trails for horse riders to take their horses on.

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There are also open fields with obstacles for horses to make jumps.

 

In fact, it is the open areas with long trails that make Bradley Palmer so special.  There are so many pretty trees and flowers along the trails which are located along the Ipswich River. I could walk along the seemingly endless trails just taking in the scenic views along the way.

 

There are also historic buildings at the park.  Palmer had constructed a mansion called Willow Dale where he resided.  The building was restored in 2007 and is used for wedding receptions and other celebratory events under the name Willowdale Estate.  I didn’t take photos of the remodeled building as there was a wedding reception taking place there during my visit.

There is also an old abandoned building at one of the entrances to the park. I’m not sure what it was originally used for (perhaps a horse barn as Bradley Palmer enjoyed horses).  But, it is fun to think of it as being the home of a gnome or some other fantastical creature.

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 Bradley Palmer is a dog friendly park.  There is more than 720 acres for you and your pooch to explore.  Luke, a 7 year old, Tree Walker Coon hound, had fun on the trail.

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The one thing that made this shoot somewhat challenging (despite the birds who kept flying away before I could shoot them) was the lighting at the park.  Sunlight can be very difficult to work with.  Frankly, it is often easier to get a darker image and fix it in post production.  An over exposed photo can be very hard to “fix” later.  This is why it’s important to get the photo right in the camera whenever possible,

There are two easier ways to avoid getting too much light in your photo: come back later and (time permitting) shoot the photo at a later time when the lighting may be better or try to position yourself in a different angle where the light may be less harsh.  Those suggestions may seem obvious but sometimes the most obvious ideas do not always come to mind, especially if we may not have time to shoot the image later in the day.

When I took a beginner photography class, the teacher told us to shoot at 5.6 “because he said so.”  While it is obvious that this is not always the best setting to use, I did notice I shot most of my photos at 5.6 or 4.0.  Of course, it will vary upon where and when and the environment you’re shooting in, 5.6 is a good place to set your camera at and you can always adjust from there if you’re unsure what setting to use, particularly for beginners.

In a future post I will share some thoughts on photographing birds.  You know, the least frustrating part of photography ( :


Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Part I (Boston, MA)

Dates Of Visits: August 12, 13, 18, 19, 2018

Location: Various locations in Boston, MA

Hours: Open daily, 7 a.m. until 11 p.m.

Cost: Free

Parking: there is some street parking available at some parts of the Greenway (particularly on Atlantic Ave) and several parking garages in the area.  There are also several MBTA train stations within walking distance to the Greenway such as South Station

Trail Size/Difficulty: 15 acres, 1.5 miles/easy

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Highlights: flowers,scenic,dog friendly, historic

Websites: Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway

Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Overview

Good Historical Overview Of The Greenway Project

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Like it or not, the morning and evening temperatures are beginning to plummet and the days are growing shorter.  Since I only have a short window to visit some of the more interesting outdoor venues for this season, I finally made it out to Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway.

Named after the matriarch of the Kennedy family, the Greenway has a wide variety of attractions.  From a carousel to works of to the beautiful gardens and flowers along the trail, the Greenway has something for everyone.

Since there is so much to see and photograph along the Greenway, I decided to break up this blog series into three parts.  The first part, which I will post today, is going to include the gardens and flowers at the Rose Kennedy Greenway.  Part 2 will include the art on the Greenway and Part 3 will include the entertainment along the Greenway.  And, of course, there will be dogs included in each post as well!

Once upon a time, specially from 1959 when the elevated John F Fitzgerald Kennedy-Central Artery construction ended and 1981 when the “Big Dig” (an underground tunnel project) began, an elevated highway spanned what is now the Greenway.  Fun fact: some of the dirt from the “Big Dig” tunnel project was used to resurface Spectacle Island in Boston Harbor.

The first thing you’ll notice on the Greenway, particularly during the spring and summer, are the bright, beautiful plants and flowers.

The gardens and flowers along the Greenway are all treated organically so people do not have to worry about their children and pets being affected by any pesticides and make the flowers look beautiful.

There are pollinators along the Greenway.  The pollinators, which were installed in 2016, are designed to attract and support pollinator species.  Since pollinating insects are important to all seed propagated plants, the pollinators provide an important role in the growth of the plants.

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The Greenway also has a garden where they grow edible fruits and vegetables such as bluberries.  The blueberries and other fruits and vegetables are a big hit with the birds.

I especially like how the buildings provide such a stark contrast to the beauty of the plants and flowers.

In fact, the buildings are so impressive I couldn’t help but take a few photos of the buildings as well.

Although it is only 1.5 miles long, the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway is full of surprises and special areas such as “Mothers’ Walk.”

Along the The Mothers’ Walk are engraved bricks with the names of loved ones.  For a measley $500 donation people could have names inscribed on bricks along the walk.

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Along the wall there is an inscription that reads, “To all who have cared, encouraged, inspired, laughed and loved, this Mothers’ Walk is dedicated to you and to those who have supported this beautiful Greenway.

There is also a park along the Greenway called The Carolyn Lynch Garden.  The garden was dedicated in Summer 2018 to Carolyn Hoff Lynch, an avid gardener and a leading philanthropist, who passed away in 2015.  The garden is bursting with colors in the spring and summer and has some scenic views.

Along Carolyn Lynch Park and other parts of the Greenway you will find historic events summarized on a timeline about the area.  The dates and events vary depending on where the timeline along the fences appear.  For instance in the part of the Greenway located in the North End, there are dates of events that took place in that area and quotes from people in the area.

The Greenway is a wonderful place to take your leashed pet.  Below are a few of the dogs I saw on the Greenway.

Tommy is a 6 year old Boxer, Labrador, Retriever, Beagle mix rescue dog.  Tommy is a social media star.  You can find him at bostondogtommy on Instagram.

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Jack is a 12 year old Pomeranian.

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Stayed Tuned for Part II coming soon!


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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Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge (Newington, NH)

Date Of Visit: September 23, 2017

Location: Arboretum Drive West, Newington, New Hampshire

Hours: open daily, dawn to dusk

Cost: Free

Handicapped Accessible: Yes, some trails have boardwalks and are not too steep or difficult

Parking: There are about 40 parking spaces in the main parking area (people do park on the side of the road when the spaces fill up)

Website: Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge

Trail Map: Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge Trail Map

Trail Size/Difficulty: 1,000 acres, easy to moderate trails

Highlights: easy trails, scenic views, boardwalks, wildlife

Tips:

  • mosquitoes, ticks and poison ivy are a common issue at the refuge
  • bald eagles, especially during the winter, are a common sight there

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One of the more overlooked parks in New Hampshire, Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge is home to a variety of wildlife, pretty flowers (when in bloom) and scenic views.

Great Bay has a boardwalk with an overlook at the main trail at the parking area.

Across from the main parking area is a fenced off area that was once used to be used as a weapons storage area for the nearby Pease Air Force Base.

The trails at Great Bay are fairly easy with a few very moderate inclines.

There is a bridge along the trail as well as an overlook with a view of the bay.

When I went to visit there were still lots of flowers in bloom.

There were lots of chipmunks and squirrels scurrying around gathering acorns for the upcoming winter.  I saw this little critter while I was walking along the boardwalk.  If you look closely, you can see what looks like a cut or injury to his or her head just above his or her left eye.  It is a sign of how unyielding and harsh nature can be.  But, it is also a sign of how resilient and hardy animals are regardless of their size.  I have to admit I wanted to take this little fella home and nurse the chipmunk back to health.  But, as you can see from the photo, wildlife has a way of healing and surviving.

 

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Chipmunks aren’t the only animals at the refuge.  There are birds, turkeys and turtles as well as other types of wildlife and insects there.

The one downside of Great Bay, for me at least, is that dogs are not allowed there.  However, I did see some evidence of them and I do think they visit from time to time, although I did not see any during my visit.

 

 


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.


Red Rock Park (Lynn, MA)

Date Of Visit: October 1, 2017

Location: Lynn Shore Dr & Prescott Rd, Lynn, MA ong Lynn Shore Drive (about 20 minutes north of Boston)

Cost: Free

Parking: metered parking along Lynn Shore Drive.  IF you’re unable to find a spot along Lynn Shore, there is usually parking available on one of the side streets in the area.

Trail Size/Difficulty: .5 miles, easy

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Website: Red Rock Park

Highlights: scenic views, easy walking and jogging path, walkway to the rocky water, spacious park

Tips:

  • During the months of July and August there are weekly concerts held along the Red Rock Park area
  • Try visiting during stormy weather to see some active waves

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Fall has a way of sneaking up on you in New England.  So, it’s important to make the best of each and every unseasonably warm day while you can.  And Red Rock Park, just minutes north of Boston, seemed like the perfect place to enjoy the last gasps of our warm weather.

Despite the temptation to stay curled up in my bed on a Saturday morning,  I was able to make it to Red Rock Park just after sunrise.  The “golden hours” (the first 2 hours after sunset and the 2 hours before sunset) sure do make a difference when it comes to photography.  In fact, some photographers won’t even take their camera out outside of those golden hours, at least not for nature photography.

When you see the sun glistening off the rocks, cement and sand during the morning sunrise, you can easily see why the park is called “Red Rock.”  Red Algae which sometimes floats ashore, while giving off a pungent odor, could be the reason for the reddish hue of the rocks.

A walkway leads to the rocks along the beach that offers some nice views of the Boston skyline,  Rock crabs, barnacle, mussels and sea stars inhabit the rocky waters.  If you’re lucky, you may see one of these critters in the tidal pools that form between the rocks.

The walking path, which leads to  is short and easy leads to Lynn Shore, a popular destination for cyclists and joggers.  There are also ramps along the way.

With its easy walking path and spacious park, Red Rock is the perfect place to take your four legged friend.  In fact, while I was there, I saw  some dogs being trained at the park.  The quarter mile marker is part of the Walking and Jogging Project launched to help promote physical activity of the Lynn, Swampscott and Nahant residents.   This 1/4 mile marker is one of the medallion markers along the 3 mile stretch.  Known as the Nahant, Swampscott and Lynn Good Health Partnership, the markers, placed at quarter mile spaces, go from the Tides restaurant (2B Wilson Rd) to the red Rock Bistro (141 Humphrey St).

 

Sampson, a friendly 12 week old Lab mix was enjoying the beautiful fall morning with his mom while I was visiting the park.  He is a rescue from the North Shore Animal League.

Below is a video from the rocks along the water.

Red Rock Park is one of the more popular spots for residents of the area to visit during stormy weather.  Below is a video of one of those stormy days in April, 2011.  It actually gets much worse, flooding the entire Lynn Shore Drive, when we experience a tropical storm or hurricane.  This video is courtesy of Steve Deveau.

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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