Tag Archives: river

Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary (Topsfield, MA)

Date Visited: July 16, 2016

Location: Mass Audubon, 87 Perkins Row, Topsfield, MA (about half an hour north of Boston, MA and an hour southeast of Manchester, NH) 978-887-9264

Hours: presently,  Tues–Fri, 9 am–4 pm
weekends & Mon holidays, 9 am–5 pm

November-April
Tues-Sun & Mon holidays, 9 am-4 pm

May-October
Tues–Fri, 9 am–4 pm
weekends & Mon holidays, 9 am–5 pm

Trails
Tues-Sun, & Mon holidays, dawn to dusk

Cost:

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

Parking: There are about 50 parking spots.  You shouldn’t have too much of a hard time finding parking unless there is an event or summer camp is in session

Size: 12 square miles

Time To Allot For Visit: I was there 5 hours and I still didn’t see everything but you can take in most of the best parts of the park in 2 to 3 hours

Dog Friendly: No, most Audubon parks are not dog friendly

Highlights: bodies of water, plentiful wildlife, pretty flowers and plants, observation tower, canoe rentals (if you’re a Mass Audubon member)

From the moment I walked to the visitor center at the Mass Audubon Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary, I encountered wildlife.  In fact, I found this rabbit chewing on some greenery in the shrub by the office.

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That is the great thing about Ipswich River Sanctuary.  If you’re an animal lover, or even if you just like them a little, then you will love this place.

Not only are the animals abundant, they are also relatively friendly and not all that shy.  Well, most of them weren’t too shy.

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The well-fed red squirrel let me get very close to him or her, so long as I didn’t affect his or her food supply.  A lady who had been sitting there on the bridge wall before I arrived has been intentionally leaving seeds or some other type of food the squirrel was enjoying which allowed me to get some great shots.  Thanks, random lady!

There are also a wide variety of bugs and other insects at the park.  Bug spray and covering up are a must (I especially suggest a hat since one particular bug kept landing in my hair).  And most bug sprays don’t stop all bugs.  The black insect below was particularly menacing.  Also, I never saw so many dragon flies in one spot as I did at Ipswich River Sanctuary but they were pretty harmless.

There are some beautiful views and plant life at Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary.  The colors of the flowers really pop out and the trails are well defined.  Many of these pretty features of the landscape were created 15,000 years ago by a glacier.

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You can also rent canoes, if you are a member, for $10/hour for a minimum of 2 hours.  So, the cost is $20 or more.  You pay for the canoes at the front office and then you have to lug the paddles and life vests along with a key to the where the canoes are locked up (about a half a mile or so away) at the canoe launch.  The canoe launch is right next to where the canoes are locked up.

One thing I have seen at other parks that is present at Ipswich are bat boxes.  These bat boxes are designed to give daytime roots for little brown bats.  Bats are important because they eat lots of mosquitoes and other insects, the plaque next to the boxes explains (then get more bats there please).  Little brown bats have been the victims of white nose syndrome,an illness which has been affecting brown bats while they hibernate during the winter.  The cause is not yet known.  So, the boxes are meant to give them a safe and convenient way for them to rest.  The boxes were constructed by Eagle Scout Sean Enos and Boy Scout Troop 48 of Lynnfield, MA.  The lumber was donate by a local business.

There is also an observation tower at Ipswich Wildlife Sanctuary.  The three story tower built of wood is a little shaky but safe.  The tower overlooks a swamp and meadow.  There wasn’t much wildlife except for the very occasional bird  (I included photos of the egret and other bird who landed in the water in the earlier slideshow).  I think that is you had unlimited time and a lot of patience as well as a good set of binoculars (I didn’t have any of those things) you could see a few grand birds.

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One of the things I noticed and I had not seen before my trip to Ipswich are pink water lilies.  I have seen white water lilies but never saw the pink water lilies until my visit there.

Like most Mass Audubon sanctuaries, the Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary is well kept and family friendly.  The grounds are well manicured and there is even a play area for children.  They also have a summer camp program where they teach children about nature in a fun and exciting way.  All in all, the Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary is a fun and exciting place for people of all ages.

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River Works Park (Greenfield, MA)

Date Visited: May 13th 2016

Location: 250 Deerfield Street, Greenfield, MA

Hours: Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year

Cost: Free

Parking:  There is a lot that can accommodate about 30 or so cars behind the waterfall off Meridian St (a side road off Deerfield  St where the bridge is) or you can park in one of the lots of the local establishments and walk to the park, after patronizing them of course.  You can’t park on Deerfield St.

It’s not often that you see a silver fish on a pole while you’re driving down the main streets of a busy suburb.  So, when I saw Brookie, the mascot of River Works Park, I had to stop and check it out.

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The River Works Park is a quiet place (if you can ignore the passing traffic on Deerfield Rd) where residents and visitors can sit on the benches or walk along the sidewalk or bridge and admire the Green River below.

For a roadside attraction, the River Works Park is full of surprises and beauty.  One of these surprises is the walk way along the sidewalk that is blocked off by a fence.  Of course, there was an opening in the wire fence.  The views from the walk way weren’t so great though and I only managed to get a few scratches when I walked along it.

The walkway, which was dedicated in November of 1999, has several memorials and plaques along the sidewalk.  This bench was dedicated to Barbara Tillmanns, Greenfield’s “#1 cheerleader.”  Tillmanns was a town councilor for Greenfield and very active in the community.  She passed away in 2014 at the age of 72.  One of her endeavors was to begin an initiative to establish a series of commemorative benches throughout Greenfield.  Here’s one:

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A sign remains where the J. Russell Co once stood.  The company made Green River Knives.  Greenfield Tap & Die also stood there once upon a time.  The J. Russell Co and Greenfield Tap & Die were the main employers of the area for much of the 1800’s and the J. Russell Co made the highly touted Green River Knife.

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If you look closely at Brookie, the mascot of River Works Park, you can see the forks, spoons, cutlery and other utensils collected from the residents of Greenfield and Franklin County that make up the shape of the fish as a tribute to the J. Russell Cutlery Co. (you may have to zoom into the photo).

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The aptly named Green River, runs through the park.  There were some modest waves and ripples in the river.  The reason for this will soon be evident.

I thought made for a pretty backdrop.

However, just beyond the bridge, we found this pretty waterfall.

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There is no sidewalk on the side of the road where the best views of the waterfalls are so I had to keep the video short since I shot it during a red light.

There is a lot of interesting historical information about the J. Russell Co and the area which you can access in the links below

J. Russell Co

John Russell Manufacturing Co

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Annual Pawcatuck River Duck Race (Westerly, RI)

Date Of Event: April 30, 2016

Location: 37 Main St, Westerly, Rhode Island

Parking:  Parking was very limited, especially with the huge turnout.  I got there early so I was fortunate enough to snag a 3 hour parking spot near the event in the shopping area of the town.

Cost: Free

Annual Pawcatuck River Duck Race

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Every year for the past 18 years, the Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce partners with several businesses and community members to raise money by dumping 20,000 ducks into the Pawcatuck River (don’t worry, they’re rubber ducks) and watching them race down the river.  The event helps raise money for over 40 local schools and other non profit groups in the area.

Visitors to the duck race can buy “sponsor tickets” with a unique number of a duck for $5 a chance.  Duck shaped whistles can also purchased, much to the delight of many spectators and parents.  Vendors and a local radio station also sell items and entertain the visitors.

All 20,000 rubber ducks are dumped into the river from a bulldozer which has been filled with the toys prior to the race.

That’s a lot of ducks!

A short walk from the bridge, in Donahue Park, there are also fun stuff for kids (and even adults who feel young at heart) such as a bouncy house, face painting, balloon shaping and other activities.  There also was a classic car, a ’47 Mac, owned by the parent of Bustah (one of the dogs below).  Cool car.

There were ducks in the water and on land.

Before the race began, a duck, a real duck this time, decided to stop by and see what was going on.

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Then, a family of ducks and ducklings swam by.  I feel badly for the little one lagging behind in the last photo.  I feel like that everyday.

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This is the Pawcatuck River before the race.

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This is the river with 20,000 ducks in it.

Even dogs came out to watch the race.

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Bustah is an American Bulldog.  Beautiful markings.  I like how he is intently staring at his dad who is standing behind me to get his attention.

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Reggie is a black Lab who is super friendly (but aren’t they all?)

Below is a video of the dunk dumping.  As you can tell by the audio, the crowd was getting antsy and they really got into the whole countdown.

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Arms Park (Manchester, NH)

Date Visited: February 27, 2016

Location: 10 Arms St, Manchester, New Hampshire

Cost: Free but you may have to pay for parking

Parking: Parking was ample when I went during a winter weekend day.

Hours: Open everyday sunrise to sunset

Arms Park

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Arms Park is a unique kind of park.  In fact it’s not really a park at all.  A stream, fed by the Amoskeag Fishways, runs parallel to the park.  It is the perfect place for people who love the sound of water and watching waves (and based on my previous posts I know you’re out there).  There’s not much to Arms Park.  A parking lot takes up most of the area (which has led some to call it “Arms Parking”) and a few office buildings dot the landscape.  It’s certainly not one of the most picturesque landscapes but the stream and walkway does have a certain charm.  It is often used for observing important important days such as the annual Pearl Harbor Day observance event and the Fourth of July fireworks display.

The river is usually pretty rough and could consequently be dangerous if anyone got caught up it in.

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It was still fairly cold when I went to visit, so the water which did splash on the railing quickly turned to ice.

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A variety of birds like to seek refuge at Arms Park.  I saw a bunch of gulls there during my visit.

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Arms Park has a short walkway along the river with benches along the way.

The video below gives a better representation of the choppy water at Arms Park.

 


Signal Hill (Canton, MA)

Date visited: January 31, 2016

There are about a dozen parking spaces in the main parking lot.  If needed, you can also park on the side of the road by the parking lot.

Cost: Free

Hours: open daily, sunrise to sunset

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Before you even begin climbing the ascent to Signal Hill, the views from the parking lot are astounding.

Besides the historical significance (it used to be the home to the Paleo-Americans who settled on what would become the Neponset River) and the active wildlife (hawks are said to nest there and many amphibians inhabit the area by the river), Signal Hill also offers grand views of the Boston Skyline, Blue Hills and the Neponset River Valley.

The hill to the scenic outlook at Signal Hill is modest at best.  It should only take 10 minutes to go from the parking lot to the outlook.

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The views are worth the short hike.

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The scenic overlook has some pretty trees and rocks.

One of the charming features of Signal Hill is the short loop (1.6 miles) at the base of the hill.  After climbing and trudging along so many long and steep hills, it’s refreshing to be able to take a leisurely stroll along the clearly defined trail.  There are also trails that veer off a little.

Off the main trail there is a canoe launch site on the Neponset River.  The upstream launch site goes to Norwood (MA) while the downstream site leads to Milton (MA).

Since there is little traffic on the road, the road to Signal Hill is popular with joggers and cyclists.

I met Charley during my visit.  He was having fun playing in what remained of the snow on the trail.

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A 360 degree video of the overlook at Signal Hill

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