Longshore Flowers

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Short Walks for Short People, and Other Hikes

The Aspetuck Land Trust is sponsoring a number of hikes this summer. For directions to all locations, check the Land Trust’s web site.

Saturday, July 17th, 10-noon: Short walks for short people (aged 3-7, with a caregiver), at the Leonard Schine Arborteum,Westport. Check out the new natural playground there.

Saturday morning, July 31st, 10-noon: Wildflowers, at Stonebridge Waterfowl Preserve, Weston.

Saturday morning, Aug. 14th, 9-noon: Stone Walls and Backyard Beekeeping, Crow Hill Preserve and Trout Brook Valley, Weston.

Thursday evening, Aug. 19th, 6-8 p.m.: Shore bird hike, Ash Creek/Great Salt March Preserve, Bridgeport

Saturday morning, Aug. 28th, 9-noon: Natural history, Trout Brook Valley

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Strawberry Season

Over at the Jones Family Farms’ web site, I read that there’s a “sneak peek” of pick-your-own strawberries on Saturday morning, May 29th! Seems early to me, but I did see fresh strawberries from other local places at Westport’s farmers’ market this morning.

Jones Family Farms, in Shelton, is our favorite place to go strawberry-picking. We’ve paid a visit almost every year for the past nine years. Usually we end up with so many strawberries that we end up giving away a lot. It’s all fun.

Note: Other than being a longtime fan, I have no relationship with Jones Family Farms.

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A Frog in the Hand…

…is worth a lot of smiles on a spring afternoon.

This fine fellow is a green frog that my son caught in (and returned to) a local pond. At least I think it’s a green frog and not a bullfrog after studying the National Audubon Society Field Guide to New England. This frog and its kin do let out a big eek before jumping into the water, just like the book says.

As a child, I captured thousands of tadpoles, and put them into a Coleman ice chest, much to my dad’s displeasure. It was a perfect aquarium for fledgling amphibians. I seem to have passed along the trait for frog interest to the kiddo. Two green frogs resembling the one in the photograph spent the weekend with us recently, but did go home to the pond eventually. (It is not the first time I have driven around animals “borrowed” from other places; I once drove a crab back to the beach after it climbed out of its container and scuttled into the TV room late one evening.)

The children’s book Nic Bishop’s Frogs is very good on the subject.

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Pine Creek Marsh (Fairfield, Connecticut)

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Grace K. Salmon Park, Westport

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Spring at Haskins Preserve, Westport (Aspetuck Land Trust)

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Catching Up with Sherwood Island

Sherwood Island State Park was beautiful this past Sunday. So many of the trees are in bloom, a few grills were going, and a number of people were enjoying the beach. I saw The Bicycle Rider, whom I remember from last year; he is often at the park. Among the birds were some I hadn’t seen since last fall: great egrets, snowy egrets, and killdeer. This birdhouse in the photograph is near the east side walking bridge; it was made at the nature center last year.

Speaking of the nature center, staff people were working to ready it for an opening next weekend. Several eager children had stopped on their bikes to talk ¬†about jellyfish and look around. As of April 17th, the center will be open 10-4 on Saturdays and Sundays until Memorial Day; after that, the hours are 10-4 Wednesdays through Sundays until school starts up again. It’s likely to take a couple of weeks for the full complement of nature center residents–snakes, turtles, and touch-tank animals–to return and settle in.

To birders, spring means migration season and the chance to see warblers, among other birds passing through. Yesterday at the park, Luke Tiller, of Sunrise Birding, reported that he and a group spotted a Yellow-throated Warbler near the pavilion.

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Signs of Spring

On a walk recently I noticed the first boats back in the water at the marina at Longshore Club Park. Alongside the small building at the marina was a Coke truck making a delivery for the soda machine there. With the golf course now open, traffic at Longshore had definitely picked up compared to my walks in the colder weather.

Longshore is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary as a town-owned park. If you’ve never read Barbara Probst Solomon’s article “Westport Wildlife,” which talks about Longshore and its possible relation to The Great Gatsby, I recommend tracking down a copy of the September 9th, 1996, issue of The New Yorker. (The article is available online only to subscribers.)

Japanese magnolias, dandelions, and daffodils are all early-spring bloomers. I wish the daffodils especially lasted all through the summer.

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Aspetuck Land Trust’s Haskins Preserve

I took these pictures at the Haskins Preserve, sixteen acres of open space right in the heart of a Westport neighborhood. (Click on any photo to enlarge it. ) Owned by the Asptetuck Land Trust, the preserve features well-marked trails, benches to sit on, two small ponds, and a couple of rippling brooks. A number of the trees are labelled.

A couple with their dogs were enjoying the preserve, too. Some workers were also cleaning up from the storm a few weeks back. I’d hoped to see some birds and brought my binoculars. I guess I was a little late in the day, though.

Others have different ideas of what to do with open space. A car stopped on the street, and a teenage boy emerged and tossed a lunch bag into one of the ponds. Ten boys, armed with pellet (?) guns and assembled at the entrance gate, were dividing themselves into teams. “What are you doing?” I asked, curious. “”Just hanging out,” one of them said. A sign at the entrance says No Paintball Games.

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