salt marsh, forest and scrubland

3.30.21 ~ Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge, Connecticut

Recently my blogging friend Linda, over at Walkin’, Writin’, Wit & Whimsy, has been posting about her visit to the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, and this inspired me to finally visit Connecticut’s own national wildlife refuge. I’ve lived in Connecticut most of my life and had never been! We decided to start with the Salt Meadow Unit in Westbrook, closest to home.

visitor center

Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge is comprised of 10 units stretched across 70 miles of Connecticut’s coastline. It was established in 1972 and was originally called Salt Meadow National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge was renamed in 1987 to honor the late U.S. Congressman Stewart B. McKinney, who was instrumental in expanding it.
~ Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge website

welcoming start of the Loop (Green) Trail
a spent heart leaf dangling in the forest
the trail was wide and well maintained
young and old
wildlife viewing platform

We were very excited to reach the wildlife viewing platform overlooking the salt marsh. Unfortunately, though, we did not see a single waterbird, even though we waited patiently for a while. Wrong time of year or maybe wrong time of day…

the Menunketesuck River runs through the Salt Meadow
looking south
looking down ~ mud
signs of human habitation in the past

I was surprised to find an andromeda bush (on the right) in the woods. Perhaps it originated in the garden of Esther Lape & Elizabeth Read, who owned the property and donated it to U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in 1972.

andromeda aka lily-of-the-valley bush
someone planted hundreds of bulbs along the trail
rotting tree trunk
a little dollop of sunshine
squiggle art
twisty art
new green
chionodoxa

Looking forward to returning some day to take the Marsh (Blue) and Woodcock (Orange) Trails. And maybe to see some birds!

29 thoughts on “salt marsh, forest and scrubland”

    1. Thanks, Frank! πŸ™‚ Before I make the trip to the refuge again I will keep my eye on its Facebook page to see when people start reporting sightings.

  1. Wonderful walk in a wonderful place. Near us in Concord Ma is a Great Meadows Wildbird Refuge which we walk around often. Such a peaceful place, less woods and more marsh and birds than your refuge here. Both places are instances of humans giving a safe refuge for Nature. xo

    1. Thank you, Pam. You’re lucky to have a wildlife refuge so nearby. If this one was a little closer I would probably visit it as often… As it is, I can’t wait to go back and take the Woodcock Trail — they should be breeding and courting about now and nesting in April and May… *hugs*

  2. The area looks lovely now, with the new growth emerging, so just imagine how beautiful it will be as the weather warms, more growth appears and more flowers are in bloom! You really should plan on another visit, and perhaps you’ll see the waterbirds next time too. πŸ™‚

    1. That’s exactly what I’m hoping to do! It will be a great place to watch the seasons change and see the different kinds of wildlife come and go. πŸ™‚

    1. You’re welcome, Leelah! The shrub has a strong fragrance but I’m not sure if I like it or not. My mother had one outside our dining room window, right near the birdfeeder.

    1. You’re welcome, Ally, and I’m glad you enjoy my walks. πŸ™‚ That “broken” heart caught Tim’s eye, too, and I’m happy he pointed it out to me.

  3. Beautiful shot of my namesake. πŸ™‚ Thank you for taking us on another walk with you. This looks like a wonderful place to explore on a regular basis, just to see what Mother Nature is up to.

    1. Thank you, Robin! πŸ™‚ You share such a beautiful name with my friendly one-bird welcoming committee. 🐦 If this refuge was a little closer to home I’d probably be there every week. πŸ™‚

  4. What an interesting tour! I’ve never been to Connecticut, and your photos give me a good idea of one portion of it. Thank you, Barbara. Hope you’re having a happy Easter!

    1. Thank you, Debbie! I’m getting to know this portion of Connecticut, too, after living here most of my life this pandemic has given me the chance to stay put and explore. πŸ™‚ Our Easter was so quiet — hope yours was good!

  5. First, Barbara – thank you so much for mentioning my blog in conjunction with your visit to your Wildlife Refuge (that you had just commented to me was a place you’d like to see as you’d never been before).

    I would definitely enjoy this walk here … the platform over the water would be a great place to view birds, in the air or in the water. Sorry you didn’t get to see any water birds … if not for the cooperative heron, my visits would have been just the same. That fleeting glance of an egret was not much to see. I like the touches of nature you captured throughout, the dark “heart leaf”, other leaves with their twisty or squiggle art, or tiny forest floor blossoms you have shown us. Even the dollop of sunshine decorative rock. I enjoyed the tour and wish it was on my agenda tomorrow.

    I recognized the sign and logo of the Blue Goose, the mascot for this U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which was the same as ours. There was a little write-up on the Blue Goose and its significance at Humbug Marsh and I photographed it, but I omitted the photo since the two posts were already so long and photo laden.

    1. My goodness, I didn’t realize I was so far behind responding to comments! Sorry it took me so long. I was happy to mention your blog as it really did inspire me to make the extra effort to go visit my nearest wildlife refuge. Now I see there is one in Rhode Island, about the same distance from here but in the opposite direction… Maybe soon!

      That viewing platform was so enticing — I can’t wait to visit again when there’s a better chance of seeing some birds! Even one cooperative heron would have been a thrill! I’m happy you enjoyed my little “art” gallery. πŸ™‚

      I imagine the logo of the Blue Goose can be found in all fifty states. Now that I’m older and travel is way more difficult due to our health problems, I wish I could visit more of the national wildlife refuges! Sigh…

      1. That’s never a problem Barbara – I am usually always behind and this week will be worse, since I am behind two days in Reader and did a post today.

        Now that you and Tim have had the second shot, you’ll feel more comfortable getting out so maybe Rhode Island is in the cards for you too.

        We do both enjoy the same types of walks and the rustic outlooks and viewing platforms are great for scoping out birds in flight or in the water. I did like that “art gallery” – you have an appreciative eye for natural artistic beauty that many others would just pass by. I think the look of a dead teasel can be very artistic, just like a dormant milkweed pod.

        That makes sense about the Blue Goose logo – this was my first wildlife refuge, so my first time to see the logo. It is good you did your international traveling when both of you had better health … I think traveling today (I mean pre-pandemic) was just so much more complicated and worrisome as well. We had it much easier before. I had aspirations to travel to Italy, France, Alaska and New England for the Fall foliage … my bucket list for years, but now, most likely if any trips happen it would be domestic travel only.

        1. Thanks for understanding, Linda! I never heard of a teasel until you mentioned them once or twice in your posts or comments. I’m going to keep an eye out for them to see if we have them here. We used to take a trip to Vermont every Columbus Day weekend to visit friends and see the fall colors. I miss those days. Oh well, nothing lasts forever. We get enough colors down here to satisfy but seeing them covering the mountains was an extra treat. I hope you get to come to New England in the autumn some day. πŸ™‚

          1. The teasels are beautiful in Summer as they have purple flowers first which attracts the bees, then they get seeds. I have seen Goldfinch feasting on the seeds in the Summertime. Once the teasels die, they are dry and prickly like burrs and catch on anything woolen, or something like sweatpants, that comes in contact with them. Once this pandemic is done, people will be happy to return to those little getaways and even day trips which we all just took for granted before. I would like to get there to New England one day Barbara. I would like to return to Northern Michigan to see the colors, which at peak are said to almost rival New England’s foliage. My mother and I planned a trip one year and I scheduled a week’s vacation and we got up to Northern Michigan and the leaf color change had not yet begun – they had a cool Summer/early rainy Fall and it impacted the leaves.

          2. Yes, timing can be tricky with fall colors. Out here we have new daily “peak foliage” maps on the local newscasts, I wouldn’t be surprised if the same was true for northern Michigan. But that’s not much help if you need to make reservations at hotels ahead of time. I’m going to be keeping an eye out for teasels and goldfinches this year!

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