Posts Tagged ‘ Bird Sanctuary ’

Ninigret Beach – Charlestown

  • Ninigret Beach (East Beach)
  • East Beach Road, Charlestown, RI
  • Trailhead:  41°20’37.88″N, 71°41’22.71″W
  • Last Time Hiked: February 15, 2020
  • Approximate distance hiked: 5.8 miles
  • Fairly easy beach walk.


The beach between Blue Shutters Beach and the Charlestown Breachway is part of East Beach State Park and the Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge. It is a long three mile strand of beach that is not overwhelmed with humans. In the summer a fee must be paid the access the beach and parking is very limited. In the winter the beach is desolate, especially at sunrise. This day was a windless but brutally cold February morning. Hike time temperature was a sweltering 7 degrees Fahrenheit. I came here armed with cameras to catch the sunrise, multiple layers of clothes, but mostly to find solitude to clear the mind. Success! I arrived at the small parking area before sunrise and made my way to the beach. To the east I could see the beacon of the Point Judith Light. To the south I could see the lights of Block Island twinkling. Along the horizon between them, the glows of pink, magenta, fuchsia, and orange setting the sky up for a spectacular sunrise. I turned to the east and followed the empty beach for a few miles. At 6:42 AM, just as scheduled, the piercing light of the sun broke the horizon. The beach suddenly a glow of of the colors in the sky. In the distance I could make out my destination, a dark shadow strip of the breachway stretching into the ocean. As the sun rose into the sky the beach came to life with sea birds. The waves broke gently and peacefully.  I spent only a few minutes at the breachway before retracing my steps back to the parking area. This walk is exactly what was needed. I did not run into a single soul! Also as a side-note, I was still cold when I ordered my breakfast sandwich at Sophie’s (in Exeter) a little while later.


Winter Sunrise

Town Pond – Portsmouth


This out and back trail is well maintained and follows the west shore of Town Pond on one side and Founders Brook beyond the shrubs and thickets on the other side. The trail is accessible from an unmarked parking area on Anthony Road and the trail starts from the left side of the lot. The shrubbery along the trail serves as a haven for birds of all sorts. There are also utility poles here with nests for ospreys here. Hawks, owls, a great blue heron, ducks, and swans were all observed here at the time of this walk. The trail ends at the railroad tracks and across the way is the Bertha Russel Preserve which is essentially a tidal marsh protected for wildlife. This area is also significantly historical as this is approximately where Anne Hutchinson founded the colony which became Rhode Island in 1638. Founders Brook Park is nearby and has monuments commemorating the event.


From the end of the trail looking over the Russel Preserve

Pic-Wil Nature Preserve- Barrington

  • Pic-Wil (Picerelli-Wilson) Nature Preserve
  • Barrington, RI
  • Trailhead: Undisclosed
  • Last Time Hiked: June 25, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 0.8 miles
  • Easy.


Mr. Ray Marr of the Barrington Land Conservation Trust and an avid lover of purple martins gave a public tour today of this property in Barrington. The Pic-Wil Nature Preserve, named after the former land owners Picerelli and Wilson, became a Barrington Land Conservation Trust property in 1987. The property was once the home to a bottling factory known as Deep Rock Water Company. Today, the property has three large meadows,  a small forest and a salt marsh on the upper reaches of Narragansett Bay. This property is a haven for birds. In fact it is known for its purple martins as they nest and resort here in the late spring and into the summer. The purple martin is a type of swallow, and here at Pic-Wil they reside in one of several gourd rack nests. At the time of this hike there were 53 nesting purple martins and over 100 in total. There are several bird boxes here as well as there is an attempt to attract the Eastern Bluebird. House wrens, hawks, and ospreys were also spotted here. The property has been home to deer, coyote, fox, weasels, squirrels, chipmunks, and rabbits as well. The small network of trails here lead you through the fields, the forest, and into the salt marsh. There is an active bee hive here on the property as part of a local pollination project. From the property you can see the Conimicut Lighthouse and across the bay to Warwick, North Kingstown, and Prudence Island. The property is not open to the public except when guided tours are offered. The tours are usually posted on their website or Facebook page. For more information contact the Barrington Land Conservation Trust.


Summer Meadow (Note the gourd rack nest)

Moonstone Beach – South Kingstown

  • Moonstone Beach
  • Moonstone Beach Road, South Kingstown, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°22’18.72″N, 71°34’20.77″W
  • Last Time Hiked: April 17, 2017
  • Distance: Less than a mile April to September, up to 4 miles rest of year.
  • Easy Beach Walk.


Moonstone Beach for years was known for its reputation as being a nude beach. Today, no longer a nude beach, it is one of Rhode Islands most stunning beaches with its scattered stones along the sand. The beach surrounded and part of the Trustom Pond National Wildlife Refuge offers nearly 2 miles of strand between Roy Carpenters Beach and Green Hill Beach. The quiet beach is not easy to visit due to many seasonal restrictions. From May 1 to September 15 a parking pass is required to park along Moonstone Beach Road. Also in most of the spring and summer large sections of the beach are cordoned off to protect the piping plovers. The beach is stunningly beautiful in the winter months if you can handle the sometimes brutal winter winds. The best time to visit is very early spring, the autumn and winter. The beach is also noted for its birds as three salt ponds abut the beach including Trustom Pond and Cards Pond. Killdeers, Sandpipers, Herons, and Egrets are also known to frequent Moonstone. Be sure to bring a camera!!


More information about the birds of Moonstone Beach can be found here.


Waves Crashing On Moonstone Beach

Godena Farm – Jamestown


This Conanicut Island Land Trust property in the north central part of Jamestown is a large open field with old farm equipment and stone structures. The once active produce farm is now being used for plantings of native trees and shrubs, many with berries to attract birds. Several birdhouses are here as well and there is an effort to build nesting boxes for the eastern bluebirds who have made Godena their home. The walk here is along grass mowed paths throughout the property and there is signage explaining the history and plans of this property. Also, snowshoeing has been encouraged here the last couple of winters.


Godena Farm

Jacobs Point – Warren

Jacobs Point is in the extreme southwestern corner of Warren and is only accessible via the East Bay Bike Path. The property abuts the Rhode Island Audubon’s McIntosh Wildlife Refuge. There is a single out and back trail that runs from the bike path to the Warren River through a salt marsh and to the beach and point. There is an abundance of bird activity here as well as plenty of wildflowers. Though short in distance, the trail offers plenty of picture opportunities whether it be of wildlife or an open marsh with sailboats in the distance.

I did not find a trail map on-line.

A Stone Wall And Wild Flowers At Jacobs Point.

A Stone Wall At Jacobs Point.

Robbins Preserve – Thompson

  • Robbins Preserve
  • Fred Davis Road, Thompson, CT
  • Trailhead: 41°59’47.09″N, 71°48’38.38″W
  • Last Time Hiked: April 4, 2015
  • Approximate distance hiked: 2.5 miles
  • Fairly easy with some elevation.


This property, owned by the Wyndham Land Trust, offers a variety of different sights. The property sits on a series of rolling hills that is covered with areas of forest and open fields. The Five Mile River also passes through the property. We started the hike from the entrance at Fred Davis Road and followed the old gravel road slightly to the left, up and over the hill. The walk is entirely on these old gravel roads. We soon came to an open area. Ahead is the main road that leads further into the property. Slightly to the right you can see the road that takes you to the river. We followed the main road first nearly to its end passing through wooded areas and more open fields. Along the way we came across several birdhouses and various animal tracks. We also saw the first signs of spring with a variety of colorful lichens blooming. After retracing our steps, we then followed the road to the river. An old bridge spans the river which had a significant flow from all the recent snow-melt. We then followed a loop that traversed through an area that had been partially cleared at one point. From here we made our way back to the cars. At the entrance there is a box with trail maps.


Trail map can be found at: Robbins Preserve.

Five Mile River

Five Mile River

Goddard Woods – Plainville


The Natural Resource Trust of Plainville owns this property wedged between Route 152 and Turnpike Lake along Shepard Street. The property was once the site of a mill. There is a sign at the entrance explaining the history of the property. Today there are nothing but the remains of the mills including several small dams. There is a small series of trails here that weave throughout the property. Most follow the streams and along a manmade canal. The streams, with the dams, offer several spots with small waterfalls. The trails here are not blazed, however, the property is not big enough were you will get lost. The main trail offers most of the highlights. This trail is narrow first passing a large field before crossing the canal. The trail will eventually end at Turnpike Lake before passing several remains including an old wooden mill wheel. Some of the newer features includes a section of boardwalk and a bridge both built by local Boy Scouts.


I did not find a trail on-line.

Trail Along The Canal

Trail Along The Canal

Nickerson Preserve – Attleboro

  • Nickerson Walking Woods Preserve
  • Richardson Avenue, Attleboro, MA
  • Trailhead: 41°57’41.92″N, 71°15’26.75″W
  • Last Time Hiked: November 1, 2014
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.2 miles
  • Easy.


This Attleboro Land Trust property is nestled along the eastern border of town and one of the larger land trust properties. I was joined on this rainy morning walk, the first of four, by a few fellow hikers. We started from the parking lot on Richardson Avenue and followed blue and red blazed trail into the property. We soon found ourselves in a small meadow. Here we came across several birdhouses. They are trying to encourage the restoration of the Eastern Blue Bird habitat on this property. There is signage explaining the birds. The trail also splits here. We opted to go straight and follow the blue blazed Outer Loop. The trail meanders through the woods crossing several boardwalks. The trail is very well marked. When we reached a post with a blue arrow pointing left with a sign stating the direction to Richardson Avenue, we went straight. If we went left we would have to do some road walking. We opted straight onto the red trail back to the meadow. From the meadow we retraced our steps to the car. This property features a small pond and stone walls.


Trail map can be found at: Nickerson Preserve.

Along The Entrance Trail

Along The Entrance Trail

Norman Bird Sanctuary – Middletown

  • Norman Bird Sanctuary
  • Third Beach Road, Middletown, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°29’58.69″N,  71°15’3.14″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 10, 2014
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.8 miles
  • Moderate with difficult terrain in areas.


This property situated at the southern end of Aquidnick Island is truly a gem. There are several miles of trails here that vary from a stroll to sections that require some climbing. The views on the overlooks are absolutely remarkable. The property is abundant with species of all sorts including mammals, reptiles, and of course birds. The sanctuary is a privately owned but open to the public. The hours are 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. daily except Thanksgiving and Christmas. There is also a (well-worth) fee to enter the property. All of that information along with information on programs can be found on their website. After stopping in the Welcome Center to pay entry and get a trail map I made my way down the main trail just to the right of the building. This trail, known as the Norman Universal Access Trail, is a stone dust covered trail that first leads towards an open farm field with a chicken coupe and rolls of hay. The trail then turns to the left and loops behind the Welcome Center passing the first of several stone walls. I soon found myself following the signs leading me to the pond. The trail meanders slowly downhill passing intersections (all with signs) for the Woodland and Quarry Trails. I continued following signs leading me to the pond and found myself on the first of the boardwalks. At the end of this first boardwalk and to the right is the small pond. Here there is a small observation deck. The pond, surrounded by grass and wildflowers, has a few boulders and fallen tree limbs in it. On this pass of the pond I saw a lone mallard resting on a stone and a heron was coming in for a landing. The trail then continues over a wooden bridge that crosses a spillway. Up to this point the hike is very easy. The remainder of it is on trails with several roots, rocks, and follows ridge lines.  Soon I approached the next boardwalk and intersection. Here I turned left. The trail splits again in a few feet. I opted to stay to the left onto a trail that winds through areas of small boulders, stone walls, and ferns. It soon passes the Shady Glade Trail to the left. I continued straight. Along this trail I caught my first glimpse of the water of Gardiner Pond on the left. To the right is the first sign of the elevation coming up as a large ledge becomes visible. The trail soon turns to the right and a set of wooden steps appear. At the top of the steps I turned left onto the Hanging Rock Trail. This would be the first of four ridge trails of this hike. I followed the 70 foot high puddingstone ridge to an overlook at the end of the trail. This overlook is the reason you want to bring binoculars. From this overlook you can see the cathedral of St. Georges School to the west beyond the pond below. You can see Purgatory Chasm as well to the southwest. From this vantage point it appears as a large crack in a ledge near Second Beach. Beyond Easton Point (just south of the chasm) you can make out another point aptly named Lands End. That is where the Cliff Walk in Newport ends. To the south and overlooking Second Beach is a sweeping view of the Atlantic Ocean. You will occasionally see large ships using the shipping lanes just south of Rhode Island. To the southeast you see the peninsula that is home to the Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge. On a clear day (overlooking Sachuest, just to the left of the large building and parking lot on the point) you can see the Sakonnet Point lighthouse. And finally to the east is Gardiner Pond just below, Third Beach, and the Sakonnet River. Beyond that is the rolling hills and farms of Little Compton. After taking in the view for a little while, I retraced my steps back to wooden steps. Instead of going down them, I continued straight along the ridge line trail slowly going downhill to the next intersection. Then I turned left passing a four way intersection where the Valley Trail begins. I continued straight and then went left onto the Red Fox Trail at the next split. The Red Fox Trail also follows a ridge line and near its end it follows a stretch that has sheer drops on both sides. Fear of heights could be an issue here. Just before the trail loops is another great view. The view from here includes much of the same from Hanging Rock, but from here you can see just how impressive Hanging Rock actually is. I also found this stop very serene in sound. A cool ocean breeze was rustling through the thousands of cattails in the valley below. Continuing, I followed the trail as it looped back north. I came to another intersection and noticed a set of signs on a tree. The signs simply read “Difficult” and “Easy” each with an arrow. I choose to go left here onto the Nelson Pond Trail. If you don’t like climbing or heights you should go straight here. The signs are true to word. After crossing a small boardwalk, I found myself climbing up a series of rocks along the trail to the third ridge of the hike. The trail then levels out a bit. The “easy” trail eventually rejoins to the right. Here I found myself entertained by a murder of crows. One was actually hanging upside down from a tree branch as if it were a bat. Continuing straight, the trail splits. The trail to the left leads further uphill the another overlook. From here you can see the sprawling Gray Craig Mansion as well as Nelson Pond. I then continued. What goes up must come down, and that is exactly what this trail does next. I found myself cautiously and methodically making my way down parts of the trail. The trail the bends right and then left, levels out, and passes the entrance of the Red Fox Trail to the right before coming to the four way intersection where the Valley Trail begins. Here I turned left making my way to the Gray Craig Trail. I passed a trail to the right, and then came to another boardwalk that crosses Paradise Brook. After crossing the boardwalk I continued to the loop trail after being greeted by a wild turkey. At the beginning of the loop I opted to follow the trail clockwise as it climbed the fourth and final ridge on the property. After completing the loop I retraced my steps back to the last intersection. Here I turned left following a trail that would lead me back to the end of the Universal Access Trail by the pond, then turning left again and crossing the wooden bridge by the pond once again. At the pond there was no sign of the mallard or heron I saw on the way in, however, several turtles were here sunbathing. I also got a glimpse of a muskrat here. From here I retraced my steps back to the Welcome Center. Along the entire hike I could hear rustling of squirrels and birds in the fallen leaves all around. Some of the birds I observed here were blue jays, a red tailed hawk, robins, cat birds, finches, and geese. I also noticed an abundance of shrubs and bushes with berries as well as several different types of trees. The Norman Bird Sanctuary offers a little bit of everything to any nature enthusiast.

Trail map can be found at: Norman Bird Sanctuary.

Red Fox Trail Looking Toward The Atlantic Ocean

Red Fox Trail Looking Toward The Atlantic Ocean

Hanging Rock

Hanging Rock