Tag Archives: snakes

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 ( :


Oak Knoll Wildlife Sanctuary (Attleboro, MA)

Dates Of Visits: May 20 & June 19, 2017

Location: 1417 Park Street, Attleboro, MA

Hours: Trails are open daily dawn to dusk.  Office hours are:

Summer:
Mon-Fri, 9:30 am-4:30 pm
Closed Sat & Sun

Spring, Fall, Winter:
Tues-Sat, 9:30 am-4:30 pm
Sun, 10 am-4 pm
Closed Mon

Cost: Free but a $2 donation is suggested for visitors who aren’t members of the Mass. Audubon Society

Parking: There is ample parking inthe main parking lot for about 40 to 50 vehicles.

Trail Size/Difficulty: 1.5 miles, easy

Handicapped Accessible: The nature center and rest rooms are handicapped accessible.  The trails at Oak Knoll are not.

Dog friendly: No, most Audubon trails are not pet friendly

Highlights: wildlife, pond, easy trails, geo-caching, summer camp for children, nature center

Website: Oak Knoll Wildlife Sanctuary

Trail Map: Oak Knoll Wildlife Sanctuary Trail Map

Located about a mile and  a half from Attleboro Springs Wildlife Sanctuary, Oak Knoll is a fun trail with with scenic views, abundant wildlife and a few other surprises along he way.

Spring was in the air and a rebirth of sorts was happening on the trails.  During my first visit, I found these two Northern Water Snakes getting friendly.  To be honest, I wasn’t really sure what I was looking at.  But, I did think at the time I did hear the faint sounds of Al Green in the air.  The naturalist at the nature center told me you could tell they were mating by their interlocked tails.

The Northern Water Snake can be dangerous.  Although they usually tend to avoid confrontations, if they feel threatened the snake can bite their predator or perceived predator and their bites can require medical attention.  This is why I always tend to keep my distance (these photos were taken with my telephoto lens) and from behind in most of the shots I took except for the one front facing photo.

During my second visit in June, I noticed this turtle on the trail.  Since it is unusual for a turtle to be in the trail and its even more unusual for a turtle to not flee when they see a human (I could have pet the turtle I was so close although of course I never would at least not int he wild), I notified the naturalist since I thought maybe the turtle might be injured.  The naturalist told me the turtle was most likely laying her eggs as they often do this away away from the water and it was that time of the year when turtles will lay their eggs.

The naturalist also informed me that turtles also tend to lay their eggs on warm areas, such as the side of paved roads.  This is one of the reasons why turtles often get hit by cars on the side of the road.  So, be careful while your driving this time of the year!

 

The trails at Oak Knoll are easy with some boardwalks that pass over red maple swamps and freshwater marshes.  There are a few very slight inclines.  But the trails are primarily very easy.

The main trail at Oak Knoll is a loop that leads to and circles around Lake Talaquega (say that 5 times fast).  There are some pretty views of the lake along the way.

I also spotted this geocache off the trail.  Apparently, a regular visitor at the sanctuary installs these geocaches from time to time.

There are a wide variety of birds and other critters at the sanctuary.  This colorful insect is a six pointed tiger beetle.  I think they call him Ringo.

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There was also butterflies, garter snakes and a variety of birds.

The nature center at the entrance to the trails has amphibians in tanks that are being taken care of while they are rehabbed or are there for educational purposes, particularly for the children who are attending the summer camp they host.  They also have some pretty flowers and trees on their grounds.

Today’s Nomad link of the day is the North Attleboro Fish Hatchery by Trails And Walks In Rhode Island.  Trails And Walks offers informative and detailed summaries of different trails in and around the Rhode Island area.  I appreciate the short but sweet synopsis of each trail and the posts always include one pretty photograph of the area.  I may have also used the website to find some places to visit!

 


Ravenswood Park (Gloucester, MA)

Date Of Visit: May 7, 2017

Location: 481 Western Ave, Gloucester, MA (about 1 hour northwest of Boston)

Hours: Open daily, sunrise to sunset

Cost: Free

Parking: there are 10 parking spots in the lot outside of the park, parking is also available on the side of the road near the park.  10-20 cars can safely fit in the area by the side of the road

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Trail Size/Difficulty: 10 miles of trails and former carriage roads. Moderate hiking. Carriage roads are covered with dense crushed stone and are generally wheelchair accessible.

Handicapped Accessible: The main trail and carriage roads are accessible at least for a while.  I walked it for over 2 miles and it was an easy, wide trail.  The side trails are much more rocky and challenging.

Dog Friendly: Yes

Highlights: wildlife, lakes, vernal pools, easy to moderate trails

Fitbit Stats (distance walked, steps taken and calories burned according to Fitbit watch): 7.8 miles, 17,637 steps, 1,586 calories burned)

Website: Ravenswood Park

Trail Map: Ravenswood Park Trail Map

Although it is more famous for its long stretches of shoreline and its fishing industry, Gloucester is also home to some beautiful parks.  Boasting 10 miles of trails and several bodies of water, Ravenswood is teeming with wildlife.

One of the highlight of the park is Fernwood Lake.  Fernwood Lake is bisected by a walking path with open areas to photograph the lake and the animals that inhabit. it.

I took the Cedar Swamp Trail and hooked up onto the blue blazed Fernwood Lake Trail.  This trail is an easy 3 mile loop with many birds and trees along the path.  Of course, I went off trail to get some of my photos and I had to redouble my steps since I got a little lost.  So the hike was much more than 3 mile loop.  I took this trail partly because I thought it would be less traveled than some of the other trails and it was.  I didn’t run into many people taking these trails.  It has been a very rainy spring.  So there were lots of puddles and the area was very green.  The trails can be extremely rocky in some places, especially along the loop I took.  I did see a few runners.  But, not any cyclists.  As a side note, bikes are banned from March 1 until April 30 during the muddy season.

During my hike, I saw evidence of beavers

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And I saw these buds which will soon become blueberries.

During my visit, I saw turtles, birds, a few dogs that were visiting as well as some other critters.

Mica is a 5 year old Australian Sheepdog.

From left to right is Masy, a 3 year old Lab, and Riley, a 9 year old Lab.

Lucas is a 9 year old rescue Catahoula.


Borderland State Park (North Easton, MA)

Date Visited: May 21, 2016

Location: 259 Massapoag Ave, North Easton, MA

508-238-6566

Hours: Open 365 days a year, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.  A sign at the front gate of the parking area states cars still parked in the lot after 7 p.m. will be fined $25.

Costs: According to the website it is $5 for MA residents and $6 for non-MA residents.  There is a parking payment station located at the front of the parking area.  I have a parking pass which allows me to park in all state run parks so I do not know exactly how the parking stations work or how they charge each patron.

Parking:  The parking lot is pretty big.  It looks like there are easily 200 spaces.  When we left, on a busy day at peak hours, there were still plenty of parking spots available, albeit far from the entrance to the trails.   There is also an alternate parking area before the main parking area for people with special passes.

Highlights: mansion, 6 ponds, quarry, 20 miles of hiking trails, large field for frisbee golf and other activities.  Fishing, canoeing and horseback riding are allowed.  Leashed dogs are permitted. Easy to moderate trails, teeming with wildlife.  Peaceful feeling, even when the park is packed.

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Created during the early 1900’s by artist and suffragist Blanche Ames and her husband Oakes Ames, Borderland State Park has been a state park since it was purchased by the state in 1971.  The Ames’ home, a three-story stone mansion built in 1910 still stands on the grounds.

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The grounds of the mansion are manicured impeccably.  They even take care of those pesky witches (or whatever that is on the lawn) .

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Bordering on the towns of Sharon and Easton in Southern MA, Borderland has a variety of trails for runners, walkers, cyclists and even horseback riders.  The trails are easy to moderate and I saw many runners on the trail.

Located about 45 minutes south of Boston and half an hour north of Providence, Rhode Island, Borderland State Park is a popular destination for people from all sections of New England.  It is easy to see why so many people flock to the park when you see the views.

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Sometimes it’s the little things that make the park so much fun.  Whether it’s the frisbee golf course on the lawn in front of the mansion (I can only imagine what the Ames’s would have thought of that) or the benches that are liberally scattered throughout the park  or the always full bowls of water thoughtfully left out for the thirsty dogs, the park really does think of everything.

here was also an abandoned building along one of the trails.

There are always pleasant surprises when you go to visit the different parks in New England.  One of those surprises was a mother bird feeding her babies in the nest on the beams of the roof of the abandoned building pictured above.  I did my best to seem as unobtrusive and I used my telephoto lens from a distance while I took these photos.  I love how the mother looks so protective and is surveying the area for potential threats.

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Then, as I was taking photos of the pond, I saw these little critters.  Look at how the frogs almost perfectly camouflage themselves.  It’s almost the perfect disguise.  Man, I love nature!

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Ok, the snake isn’t so “little.”  But, I wasn’t about to get closer to see just how big he was.

And the animals didn’t stop there.

There were dogs a plenty also at Borderland State Park.

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Beef is a 6 year old  American Bullweiler (American Bulldog and Rottweiler mix).  He was being trained by his dad.  I thought the last photo showed just how much affection he has for his guardian.

Mason, a chocolate Labrador, took advantage of the warm weather to go for a swim.

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Romeo, an English Chocolate Labrador, celebrated his 10 month birthday at the park!

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Balto, a 7 month German Shepherd, wants attentively for the rest of the family to show up.

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Thank you for stopping by and reading and please consider connecting with me on Facebook and check out my future trips around New England:  New England Nomad