Saturday, April 25, 2009

Touisset Marsh, Warren RI

On a recent Friday afternoon, I made arrangements with my sister and my brother to meet at Touisset Marsh after I got out of work. They were both off for Good Friday and I get out at noon on Fridays.
Touisset Marsh is in Warren, to get there take Route 103. If you are coming from RI(or heading east) it is just before the Rhode Island border, there is a brown sign indicating Audubon Refuge,you would turn right at the crossroads there. If coming from Massachusetts, take a left at the crossroads after crossing into RI. There is also a sign pointing the way. After that I did not see any signs, but follow this road, you will come to several bends in the road, and eventually you will see Touisset Road, take this road (you can only go right). This is a wonderful drive as there are many farms and beautiful trees along the way. At yet another left bend in the road, there is a small firehouse straight ahead of you, to the right of that there is a parking lot for the wildlife refuge.
While sitting here waiting for the other members of my family to arrive, there was a male cardinal singing out his praises to any female who might be interested. I spotted him in the top of a very tall tree.
After they all arrived, we set out on the trail that leaves straight out from the right edge of the parking lot. This takes you through a little stream and a low lying area that was quite muddy in areas, there are some boardwalks here in certain areas, but it had just recently rained so it was extra muddy. The reward for that was my first real glimpse of a dense concentration of green which is so immensely missed during the winter months.

After the wet area we walked through an area of tall trees and birds singing. There is a rock wall along the right (north) side of the property. Then we came to a very large open field, where we found some daffodils growing

this area is not marked, but you should be able to follow the well worn foot path around the perimeter of the field, which eventually takes you to the Touisset River. Of course the kids had to spend some time exploring here, and were quite amazed at the ribbed mussels that were growing on the on the mud flats along the river. Back on the trail, it leads into another area of open field along the river. When the kids went back to the beach further along, I spotted a great blue heron in the tributary that empties into the river, but he took off as soon as I lifted my camera to take a snapshot of him. The trail then turns to parallel the tributary, and there are a few areas that you can look out and hope to see egrets or great blue herons fishing for dinner here.

Of course if you have a gagle of noisy kids with you, it becomes difficult to see these types of birds so the photo below is from a previous visit when I was alone at this refuge.

On your left hand side there is a grassy marsh area and soon you will come to a lovely wooden bridge that spans the brook draining from the marsh. Take a peek over the side, sometimes you can see small fish or other creatures in the water under the bridge. Or maybe some very fresh kids:

After crossing the bridge you will be in a typical coastal tree area with sandy ground and cedar and swamp oak trees. In this area the older boy decided to play haunted forest with the younger kids and the adults dropped back to enjoy the almost quiet.

We came upon several interesting specimens in the trees. I took this photo of something I could not identify, but I believe it is a precursor of what grows on a maple before the leaves, I guess I've just never seen them because the amount of time they appear is very short. With some help from my friend Celia, I found out that they are the blossoms of a red maple tree.

My brother took this photo of a fungus growing on what I think is a juniper.

The fields in this area of the refuge border a quiet residential area, and on other trips I have seen many varieties of wildflowers. The kids found some large rocks among the trees and decided to play hide & seek. We came to yet again another large field area, and along the trail here there was wild green onions growing. The 6 year old was quite amazed that you could find onions growing out in the wild and he tried several for the novelty of it. After the onion field area we were once again back at our cars.
The trails and refuge are quite level and very child friendly, but not for a stroller. You can probably do this trail in an hour if you are just out for a walk, but if you are exploring with kids, plan on almost 2 hours.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Durfee Hill Management Area

We have one of those books by the late Ken Weber, More Walks and Rambles in Rhode Island, in fact we have 3 of his books and he never fails to get us lost. But silly me, pulled out his "More Walks and Rambles" two weeks ago to find a place to walk after church with our neice & nephew. We were supposed to take Route 44 west to Route 94, but before getting to Route 94 we saw a big sign for Durfee Hill, so we turned around and pulled into that parking lot. After having some leftover pizza for lunch, we took to the trail. The first part of the trail is pretty straight-forward, a wide trail with a small brook running alongside in some areas, some old apple trees and nice clearings off to the right. We even saw our first butterflies of the season, one a Mourning Cloak:
and the other was a small white one. I was very surprised to see a butterfly so early (it was early April), but when I checked my field guide, it indicated that they fly early through leafless woods, and the range in New England starts in March.
Off to the left of the trail, probably about a quarter of a mile, there was a small man made waterfall, and the remains of an old foundation.
Shortly after the waterfall, we came to an intersection with the choices seeming to be left or right, but we should have gone straigt where there is a path, but it was not very noticeable because it is only a footpath, the other paths are made with trucks I think. Unfortunately, we took the left trail, which ended up in a clearing where some people had decided to have an outdoor art installation involving 3 televisions and probably shotguns, what a mess! This trail eventually ended in some very mucky grooves that looked like some yahoo with a motorized vehicle had gotten stuck. We returned to the intersection and took the footpath, which was quite nice and led us down to a nice body of water that I found out later was named "Burlingame Reservoir". I am not sure if it is an active reservoir at this time, I did not see any postings to indicate thus.

This was a very beautiful spot, and we spent some time just chilling here, breathing in the beautiful, sunny day, taking photos and exploring. There was a ladder going down into the dam area so of course Dan had to climb down and check it out:

After spending some time at the pond, we went to what would have been the right fork of the previously mentioned trail and this was a combination of tall trees, one nice trail that seemed to peter out after a while, and more areas for Dan to explore, namely a very old foundation.

After exploring in this area, we headed back to the car. You could probably spend some time checking out the old fields and other areas in this section of Durfee Hill, but I think that this may be a new area that has opened since Ken Weber wrote his book, when I check the DEM website, it indicated that there is 1176 acres to this management area.