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.