Eco-tourism is a big plus for the Greater Newburyport Area. We have the magnificent Parker River Wildlife Preserve that partially encompasses The Great Marsh. We have the Parker River, one of the cleanest rivers in Massachusetts that in turn feeds this great marsh area where the nursery lies of many fish species that our regional fishing fleets depend upon. Part of that watershed is the Common Pasture, one of the most distinctive features that makes Newburyport so special, a great open space of conservation areas and farms.
This area is one of the major stopping grounds for migratory birds. You can visit the Joppa Flats Audubon Center and learn more but sufficient to say, species from the Arctic to the Antarctic all across the Western Hemisphere consider this area a prime spot.
And it’s all because of bird food.
Those nagging, nasty pests – insects of all different sorts and of course, the ultimate, the greenhead fly.
It is this great profusion of insect life that makes us a wonderful place to see birds but its also a great misery – as they bite, buzz, pester and sting. And many of the most nutritious for birds are of the most danger to humans.
That is why spraying is so important to our area.
Which is why I was out at the Little River Nature Trail. Now most if you were to inform them that you were about to mow a ‘forest’; they’d start to think you should be locked away for observation or maybe need some treatment.
But that was what I was doing yesterday. Some of the plant growth has gotten very vigorous this summer due to the extra rain we have received and the poison ivy and bittersweet and invasive rose species were making the paths very clogged. I was also mowing the trail to make sure ticks and anything insect oriented wouldn’t be dropping upon birders, dog walkers, hikers and mountain bikers.
This trail even though so close to Route 95 is abundant with wildlife…and to birds. In fact, Newburyport Birders just made a short list of the many species seen lately.
“Little River Trail, Newburyport: Mourning Dove, Chimney Swift, Belted Kingfisher, Red-eyed Vireo, Blue Jay, American Crow, Tree Swallow, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, American Robin, Gray Catbird, Cedar Waxwing, Common Yellowthroat, Eastern Towhee, Song Sparrow, Scarlet Tanager, Northern Cardinal, American Goldfinch”
All those bugs make great food for birds – if we want to see our flying friends come visit us from all over the world, it is the great sacrifice that we must endure.
At least the good news will be that the trail (and the Gloria Braunhardt Bike Path) will be safe to traverse without a trip to the hospital because of Lyme Disease!*
* For proper navigation of nature trails regardless of where they be – refrain from sandals and use a shoe with socks. Long pants over shorts; and for added protection since ticks are close to the ground, turn the pants into the socks for a ‘sealed’ arrangement. Spray down your clothes and skin with a non-staining bug spray. No matter how hot it is, wear long sleeves if possible. Wearing a floppy hat that has been sprayed with bug spray on the exterior can often reduce the irritating flying insects that can make a hike so miserable. The hat can be made into a flyswatter when you encounter larger insects that think your DEET is some kind of perfume. Also, be aware of sensory input. If your brain is telling you that someone is boring into your back or sticking you with pins; in the forest – it’s probably true!