July 22, 2018

Old Lyme Land Trust Hosts 52nd Annual Meeting, Honors Lea Harty as Volunteer of the Year

The Old Lyme Land Trust held its 52nd Annual Meeting at the Lymes’ Senior Center on Sunday, March 18.  Attendance was the largest in the Trust’s history.

The meeting was highlighted by an informative and entertaining presentation on bobcats in CT. The program, “The Bobcat: Connecticut’s Secretive Wild Cat” was presented by Master Wildlife Conservationist, Paul Colburn. He discussed the natural history of bobcats in Connecticut and provided an overview of bobcat habitat, diet, behavior, reproduction, and current research efforts.

Colburn encouraged the audience to report bobcat sightings to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) at deep.wildlife@ct.gov. The image at left was captured on a trail cam by an Old Lyme resident.

Bobcats, lynx rufus, are the state’s only wild cat and have been sighted in almost every town in the state. The bobcat was once hunted for both its fur and bounty payments, but is now protected. and the current population is estimated at 1500 to 2000. Even though bobcats can catch and kill a deer, they are shy of humans.

In the business portion of the meeting, the Trust honored Lea Harty as the Volunteer of the Year. She is the former Trust secretary and still edits and produces the Trust’s Annual Letter, Tributaries.  She has organized work crews to eliminate invasive burning bush on the Jericho Preserve and will soon lead another crew to plant native shrubs at Watch Rock.

Trust President Michael Kiernan announced that the newly acquired 11-acre “Denison Farm” parcel is now fully accessible through the trail system on the Upper Three Mile River Preserve.  He also announced receipt of a $36,000 grant toward the purchase of Denison from the state DEEP’s OSWA grant program. The Trust conducts regular work parties to maintain its 14 preserves; volunteers are always welcome to participate.

In other business, Mary Devins and Sabine O’Donnell were elected to the board of directors.

The Old Lyme Trust reminds LymeLine readers to visit the Trust’s display at the Midsummer Festival on Saturday, July 28. Meet some of the local wildlife (the non-human kind!) that make their homes in the Trust’s preserves. Raptors, reptiles and a variety of insects will be looking forward to meeting you.

The Old Lyme Land Trust is a private nonprofit corporation not affiliated with the town government. Membership is open to all.  “Buy land, they’re not making it anymore.” – Mark Twain

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Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center Hosts Spring Lecture Series; Next Lecture is May 3

The Connecticut Audubon Society’s Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center is hosting a three-part Spring Lecture Series from April 19 through May 17.

The second lecture in the series will be held Thursday, May 3, at 5 p.m. at Essex Meadows and is titled The Remarkable Edward Lear.

Edward Lear (1812-1888) is best known and much loved for “The Owl and the Pussycat.” But he was also a fine painter of birds, mammals, reptiles, and landscapes, and an adventurous, world-wide traveler.

Lear’s paintings of parrots, macaws, toucans, owls, and other birds are among the finest ever published. Often compared to his friend and contemporary, John James Audubon, the two men are considered among the greatest natural history painters of the age. Using slides of Lear’s extraordinary work, Robert Peck will describe his career in natural history. He will show how he compares to and differs from Audubon, and discuss his lasting influence today. RSVP here

The third and final lecture in the series will be held Thursday, May 17, at 5 p.m. at Lyme Art Association and is titled Creation of a Genius: Roger Tory Peterson.

Roger Tory Peterson made his home and, as an adult, found inspiration for his monumental work on the banks of the Connecticut River Estuary. But the seeds of his passion for art and conservation were sown in his youth. Twan Leenders, President of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute in Jamestown, N.Y., will focus on Peterson’s early years, his youthful explorations, and how the hidden treasures of his hometown, were to become a passion and eventually lead to inspiring amateur and professional naturalists through generations and throughout the world.  RSVP here.

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CT River Museum Offers Range of Winter Wildlife Programs, Activities

Eagles on Ice: White-headed adult eagles can be seen in numbers along the lower Connecticut River. Photo by Mark Yuknat.

Winter along the Connecticut River brings many things – including cold winds and grey skies.  But the change in seasons also signals a shift in the ecology of New England’s Great River.  The osprey, the swallows and the egrets may be gone, but in their place now are mergansers, goldeneyes, and the highlight – bald eagles.  These once rare, majestic birds can be seen fishing along the unfrozen lower Connecticut River, a testament to one of the greatest environmental recoveries of the last half century.  To highlight these winter wonders, Connecticut River Museum (CRM) has planned a range of programs and activities.

Connecticut River Museum is happy to again partner with Connecticut River Expeditions to offer Winter Wildlife Eagle Cruises in February and March.  These popular trips offer visitors a chance to get out on the River in winter to see eagles, as well as other winter species that visit the estuary such as harbor seals.

This seal is relaxing on the Connecticut River ice. Photo by Bill Yule.

Cruises aboard the environmentally friendly R/V RiverQuest provide passengers with a comfortable, heated cabin supplied with hot coffee and tea, as well as binoculars to aid in spotting and narration from a staff naturalist.  These cruises depart Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at various times in the morning and early afternoon, and are $42 per passenger.  Museum members get 10 percent off and group rates are available.

In addition, the Museum will offer its annual Eagles of Essex exhibit, which offers a wealth of information about bald eagles and their return to the lower Connecticut River.  Patrons can try their hand at building an eagle nest, and marvel at life size silhouettes of Eagles and other large raptors, a map showing good shore viewing locations, and other displays.  On the opening day of the season, Saturday, Feb. 3, the exhibit will host Family Activities related to the return of the Eagles from 1 to 4 p.m., free with Museum admission.

On Saturday, Feb. 17 and March 17, award-winning photographer Stanley Kolber returns to CRM to offer his annual Bird Photography Workshop.  Kolber has been photographing birds for years, and takes great pleasure in sharing his experience with aspiring photographers of all levels, through anecdotes, slides, and question and answer.  In addition to helping skills development, his greatest pleasure in giving workshops is the opportunity to kindle and encourage his audience’s interest in the natural world.  He hopes that young people as well as adults will attend the workshops, so that he can impart some of his own enthusiasm to the next generation.  These popular programs are also free with Museum admission.

Species other than Eagles visit our River during the winter months. Photo by Joan Meek.

A Live Birds of Prey Show will be offered on Sunday, Feb. 18 at 4:30 p.m.  CRM will partner with Horizon Wings Raptor Rehabilitation Organization for this annual show, which features a bald eagle and several other species of raptors.  Visitors will be able to get an up close look at the birds while learning more about the lifecycle and ecology of these magnificent animals.  This event will be held at the Centerbrook Meeting House and is free to the public.

For a full listing of event details, visit www.ctrivermuseum.org or call 860-767-8269.  The Connecticut River Museum is located on the Essex waterfront at 67 Main Street and is open Tuesday – Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Connecticut River Museum, located in the historic Steamboat Dock building, offers exhibits and programs about the history and environment of the Connecticut River.

For more information, call CRM at 860.767.8269 or RiverQuest at 860.662.0577.

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Today’s Goodwin Trail Hike in Hartman Park with Lyme Land Trust is CANCELLED

Turtle Rock on Bald Nubble by Wendolyn Hill

1/14 Update: Due to icy trail conditions, this hike has been cancelled.

Start the New Year off with a moderately easy 2.6 mile walk in the woods. Everyone is welcome. Don’t forget your walking stick. Meet at the trailhead to the Goodwin Trail at Hartman Park Gungy Road.

Hikers will car-pool to the Holmes Road Parking lot in East Lyme and then hike the portion of the Goodwin Trail from the Holmes Road Parking Lot in Nehantic State Forest through Hartman Park back to Gungy Road, led by Wendolyn Hill, Lyme Land Trust board member and Town of Lyme Open Space Coordinator.

Hikers will visit the old CCC camp foundations, pass ancient colonial ruins and pause to appreciate the view from the beloved Bald Nubble on the red trail at Hartman Park. A snack will be provided. Bring water or something to drink.

The Richard H. Goodwin Trail, overseen by the Eightmile River Wild & Scenic Coordinating Committee, is a an extended trail system crossing four towns: East Haddam, Salem, Lyme and East Lyme. In the future, the goal is to connect to other existing trail systems in surrounding towns.

Dr. Richard H. Goodwin (1911-2007) was president of the Nature Conservancy from 1956 to 1958 and again from 1964 to 1966. The Nature Conservancy, a nonprofit organization, was started in 1951, and Dr. Goodwin was one of its founders. Since then, it has protected 15 million acres of land in the United States and 102 million acres in 29 other countries.

Inclement weather cancels.

Reservations appreciated at openspace@townlyme.org.

Directions from Rte. 156 in Lyme: Take Rte. 156 to Beaver Brook Road. Travel about 2.7 miles on Beaver Brook Road. Turn left onto Gungy Road. Travel about 1.5 miles. Park along the road.

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Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center Offers Teacher/Naturalist-led Hikes Saturdays in January

This Saturday, Jan. 13, learn about the birds that overwinter here in Southeastern Connecticut while on a hike in Old Lyme led by CT Audubon. Photo by Amelia Graham.

Join one of the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center’s teacher-naturalists every Saturday in January at 9 a.m. for fresh morning air and a naturalist lesson as the group hikes in a different location each week.

These hikes are free to Connecticut Audubon members; $5 non-members.

 

Wonderful Wetlands at Watch Rock
Saturday, January 20, 9 a.m.

This walk will focus on natural cleaners of nature, we will discuss carbon sinks, decomposers, and natural filters like shellfish, moss, mushrooms, estuaries and more. Led by Morgan Allen.

Salt Marsh Ecosystems at Rocky Neck
Saturday, January 27, 9 a.m.

Connecticut has its fair share of salt marshes. They are both beautiful and crucial to many animals. Learn about why these habitats are important to a wide range of species. Led by Joe Attwater.

To register for any of the walks or for more information, visit this link.

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State OSWA Nature Photo Contest Renamed to Honor Old Lyme Resident Diana Atwood Johnson

Launched in 2016, the Open Space Watershed and Land Acquisition (OSWA) photo contest has been re-named in honor of Old Lyme resident Diana Atwood Johnson, an avid bird photographer who recently stepped down as the Chair of Connecticut’s State Natural Heritage, Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Review Board, having served in that position for 19 years.

The contest is intended to provide a venue for amateur nature photographers to celebrate the OSWA program, display their work, and provide Connecticut Land Conservation Council (CLCC) and Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) with new materials for our publications and communications.

Entrants are invited to submit up to three digital high resolution photos featuring OSWA properties for consideration (1280 x 960 pixels minimum).

The winners of each category will be displayed at the 2018 Connecticut Land Conservation Conference, in Connecticut Wildlife (the official bimonthly publication of the DEEP Bureau of Natural Resources), DEEP’s Open Space Annual Report and website, and CLCC’s website, e-communications and other promotional materials.

All entries must be received by Monday, Feb. 5, 2018.

Any questions? Contact Kathy at kblachowski@ctconservation.org

The Town of Old Lyme congratulates Diana Atwood Johnson, 2011 Citizen of the Year and chair of the Old Lyme Open Space Commission, on this most recent honor.

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Potapaug Audubon Presents ‘Protecting Plum Island’ at Old Lyme Town Hall Tonight

Aerial view of Plum Island lighthouse. (From Preserve Plum Island website)

Potapaug Audubon presents “Protecting Plum Island” with Curt Johnson of Save the Sound and the Connecticut Fund For The Environment, on Thursday, Nov. 2, at 7 p.m. at the Old Lyme Town Hall, 52 Lyme St. Plum Island, one of the islands of Long Island, N.Y., three miles south of East Lyme, is in danger of going up for auction.

Plum Island is home to more than 1,000 species. It is a federally-owned wildlife sanctuary in one of the most densely populated areas of the country, but the government is preparing to sell this national treasure on the auction block.

That’s where Save the Sound comes in. In July 2016, Save the Sound sued the federal government under the Endangered Species Act and other laws, to encourage a conservation sale.

This event is the latest in Save the Sound‘s decades-long history of fighting to clean, protect, and preserve the waters of the Long Island Sound region.

Come learn more and see what you can do to help.

This event is free and open to public.

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Vote for Old Lyme as TripAdvisor’s “Best New England Fall Foliage Getaway”!

Photo of Old Lyme from the Trip Advisor article on “Best New England Fall Foliage Getaways.”

We’re delighted to share the news with our readers that Ashlee Centrella of TripAdvisor has informed us that Old Lyme has been selected as one of their 16 Best New England Fall Foliage Getaways.  That’s good news in itself, but we also have the chance to vote for Old Lyme to be THE Best New England Fall Foliage Getaway!  This honor will be bestowed on the town in New England that offers, in Centrella’s words, “the best small-town charm vacations in New England,” combined with the best fall foliage.

You can read TripAdvisor’s article on the 16 candidates for the honor at this link and most importantly scroll to the bottom to vote (for Old Lyme, of course!) at the end of it.  You don’t have to give your email or register for anything so please, please help Old Lyme win this award.  We’re currently running second with 11 percent of the votes cast, significantly ahead of Essex, Mass. and Damariscotta, Maine, which both have precisely 0 percent of the votes, but way behind Millinocket, Maine, which has a whopping 63 percent of the vote.

So, dear readers, get your fingers to work, and let’s vote like crazy so Old Lyme not only overtakes Millinocket, Maine, but also goes on to win this contest!  We know the Lyme-Old Lyme Chamber of Commerce will be supporting this effort as it would obviously be extremely beneficial to all our tourist- and hospitality-based businesses to win this competition.  We thank the Florence Griswold Museum sincerely for already having highlighted the contest and voting option in their communications.  We are sure the Town of Old Lyme and other civic and community institutions in town will be putting out the word too. Let’s see if we can get some poster up around town publicizing the news.

And if YOU represent an organization that can share this news and the voting option with your members and supporters, then please go ahead and share, share, share via e-mail, social media, and even good old snail mail!

Thank you and VOTE OLD LYME!

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Lyme Land Trust Celebrates Opening of Brockway-Hawthorne Preserve

Explore the beautiful trails of the Brockway Hawthorne Preserve, Oct. 14.

The Lyme Land Trust hosts an opening celebration for its newest property, the Brockway-Hawthorne Preserve, at 2 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 22.  Meet at the Brockway-Hawthorne Preserve Parking Lot, Brush Hill Rd. in Lyme.

This 82-acre nature preserve has been developed with hiking trails that traverse all the significant places from savannah-like terrain bordered by stone walls to some of the last remaining hemlock stands in Lyme. Parts of the trails meander along Whalebone Creek with wonderful rocky outcroppings and crossings on bridges built by Dominion Power Station volunteers.

See this stone wall in the Brockway Hawthorne Preserve.

The trails connect with the existing system at the Ravine Trail, which, in combination with Selden Creek Preserve, offers an extensive network of trails with many diverse habitats.

After the ribbon cutting, join Ralph Lewis former State of CT geologist and Tony Irving, forest ecologist for a short walk “Talk and Walk” looking at the long- and short-term land-use history of the preserve.  See how bedrock and glacial geology shaped the land, thus dictating how it has been worked over the centuries.

For more information, email Info@LymeLandTrust.org

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Potapaug Audubon Presents ‘Birds: Their Side of The Story’

Potapaug Audubon presents “Birds: Their Side of The Story” on Wednesday, Oct. 4, at 7 p.m. at the Old Lyme Town Hall, 52 Lyme St. with guest speaker: John Himmelman, artist, author and naturalist.

Himmelman will offer fun facts and light-hearted stories. What are some of the crazy things they make us do? Why are there so many pigeons in cities? How adept are crows at using a screwdriver? What did Ben Franklin really think about Bald Eagles? John will share light- hearted stories of birds and bird watching – from cuisine to cartoons; ornaments to icons, murmurs to murders. You’ll be given a whole new look at the avian friends we so admire … and some not so much.

Himmelman will also show some amazing photos.

For more information, call 860-710-5811.

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Lyme Land Trust Executive Director George Moore to Retire, Search for Replacement Underway

George Moore, Lyme Land Trust Executive Director, has announced his retirement.

George Moore, the Land Trust’s Executive Director for the last five years, has announced that he will be retiring when his replacement can be brought on board.

Land Trust President John Pritchard made the announcement and said, “The Land Trust is deeply grateful for George’s service and dedication over the last 14 years. He was elected to the Land Trust Board as a volunteer director in 2003. In 2007, he was elected Board President, and in 2013 the Board appointed him as its first Executive Director. Through his vision and effective management, George has helped transform the Land Trust into one of the most active and successful in the State.

Prichard noted that among his many accomplishments – in addition to the day-to-day management of the Land Trust — are building the Land Trust’s membership to the point that it represents half the households in Town; the acquisition of numerous preserves on his watch, including Chestnut Hill, Walbridge Woodlands, Banningwood and most recently, Brockway- Hawthorne; assisting with securing the coveted national accreditation from the Land Trust Alliance; initiating the President’s Circle composed of the Land Trust’s most generous supporters; arranging for the production of the PBS film on the Land Trust and conservation in Lyme, as well as its sequel, The Rest of the Story (both of which can be viewed here); and organizing and managing the Land Trust’s highly successful annual fundraiser, a regionally recognized, fun and scenic biking event for all ages and abilities: the Tour de Lyme.

The Land Trust has commenced a search for a new Executive Director. Potential applicants for the position can find the job description and application process at the following link: http://www.lymelandtrust.org/employment-opportunities/

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Rogers Lake Drawdown to Begin After Labor Day

Every leap year, Rogers Lake is scheduled to be lowered in the fall so that landowners can perform any maintenance at the waters edge. But this did not happen in 2016 due to the drought.

Because of this, the drawdown will take place this fall (2017) as follows:

  • The drawdown will start after Labor Day and the full drawdown of a maximum of 14 inches should occur by mid-September.
  • The drawdown will be maintained from mid-September to Nov. 1.

The Rogers Lake Authority can be contacted at Rogers-Lake-Authority@googlegroups.com

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Lyme-Old Lyme Troop 26 Boy Scouts Conquer ‘Swamp Base’ in Louisiana

These intrepid Lyme-Old Lyme Troop 26 Boy Scouts and Scot Leaders attended ‘Swamp Base’ in July of this year. From left to right, (front row) Brooke Smith, Swampbase guide; Mike Miller, Theodore Wayland, Dennys Andrades, Maxwell Bauchmann, and Peter Bauchmann; (back row)  Mark Wayland, John Miller, Evan St. Louis, and Mary Powell-St.Louis.

Editor’s Note: This personal account of the Swamp Base 2017 experience was submitted by Life Scouts Evan St. Louis and Theodore Wayland.

The steady lapping of our oars was only interrupted as we had to lean back in our canoe seats to avoid low branches, while we were keenly observed by the alligators swimming by …

On July 7, Lyme-Old Lyme Boy Scout Troop 26 became the first ever Connecticut troop to attend the Boy Scouts of America High Adventure called Swamp Base. This program is based at the Atchafalaya Swamps in southern Louisiana. On the day of our arrival, our crew of five scouts and four adult leaders visited the nearby town of Lafayette, to sample local cuisine and to become acclimated to the local temperature and humidity. 

The next day, our first full day in the area, we traveled to a historical region called Vermilionville and learned about the Acadian culture of southern Louisiana. We met our guide for the trip, Brooke, a sophomore at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (ULL.) That night we thoroughly checked all our equipment and provisions then fell fast asleep in the ULL dorms.

Cypress groves stand tall in the Henderson Swamp.

Our swamp venture began very early that next morning as we drove to a spot at the start of a canal and launched our canoes. The canal went on for 4.4 miles. At the end of the canal, it seemed as though there was a wall of trees, and that section of paddling was aptly called “The Wall” by our guide. That area was perhaps the most challenging section of the whole trip. There were trees and shrubs very close together, and you had to stay in the middle of the waterway to avoid wasp nests.

Thankfully, we made it through this section unscathed and there were no wasps anywhere else on the trip.

After the narrows opened up into the Henderson Swamp, there was much more room to maneuver. The first day we traveled 19.3 miles to houseboats where we would be sleeping. The Henderson swamp had areas where the Cypress trees were logged over 100 years ago, and any trees that are left were considered the runts back then.

Our houseboat captain gave a fascinating overview on the alligators of the Bayous, and their role in the environment. At this point, we had seen enough alligator behavior to realize that they are more scared of us then we were of them, and would try to avoid us.

The next morning, we had an exciting airboat tour of the outlying areas of Henderson Swamp where cypress trees grew in groves. It truly is amazing that the Cypress trees can grow in over six feet of water. After all of the beautiful sights on the airboat tour, it would be back to traveling under our own power.

This day we would cover 10.3 miles; however, after paddling only about a mile from the houseboats, we had to portage our canoes over a levee. This portage was 900 feet long and over the 25-foot-tall levee, but with the extra weight of gear and canoes, it felt much longer. The late morning heat was near its peak adding to the challenge of this portage. After that, the paddle was nice and slow with a wide-open waterway, with plenty of shade from the heat.

That night, we slept on Rougarou Island in hammocks covered with mosquito-netting. The Rougarou was a creature similar to a werewolf in the legends of the Laurentian French communities – fortunately there were no modern versions present during our trip! We also had a blowgun contest with very basic materials – this was fun, but may not have provided us too much security if a Rougarou showed up.

Our next day of paddling was 14.4 miles and not too difficult, but the wildlife was probably the most diverse that we saw throughout our trip. We saw a wide variety of birds and plants in different areas, and quite a few alligators, the most on any day of our journey. Midday of this paddle, it began pouring with rain, and there was an interesting sight of the giant raindrops bouncing on the water as they hit it, but multiplied millions of times. This was the point we were really glad to have dry bags, so none of our gear got wet.

After the rain stopped, we still had to cross two lakes, which were strenuous, but we knew how close Island Outpost was, our final stop. Once we arrived, the Boy Scout crew that had arrived the previous day helped us get our canoes onto the dock. On Island Outpost, there were showers, and clean water was readily available. We would be sleeping in cabins for two nights, on bunks in rustic cabins, after enjoying our jambalaya dinner prepared for us. 

Catfish for dinner!

The next day at Island Outpost we had no paddling and enjoyed other relaxing activities including swimming, boating, and paddle boarding. There were fishing trips by boat, and setting out catfish jug lines. After later checking the jug lines to harvest our catch, we enjoyed a catfish fry that would be a side to gumbo for dinner with plentiful Cajun spice to notch up the heat.

The morning of the last day, we woke up before 5 a.m. to be able to see the sunrise at 6:13 a.m. on Sandy Cove from a great vantage point. We were in the water at about 5:30 a.m. and started immediately. We made it to the outlook point just in time, because within a minute of us arriving, the top of the sun had started to peek above the horizon. It was definitely worth waking up for, to see the sun climb up into the sky rapidly.

A beautiful early morning view of the bayou.

After eating breakfast on the water, we continued paddling, trying to get to the next scheduled portage early before it got too hot. We went in between ancient Cypress trees on the edge of Lake Fausse  Pointe. There were a few alligators there that were very close to us. It was fabulous here too in terms of both the view and the overall cleanliness of the area.

The second portage was easier than the first, except for the very end. The end of the second portage, behind the levee, was referred to as the “Swamp Stomp” – an area several hundred-feet long where there was thick mud and certain areas of waist-high water that we had to wade through pulling our canoes. Once we were through the Swamp Stomp, we came out onto a chilly river.

This part of our trek was the easiest, because there was a current that carried us almost the whole way to the end of our journey. We had gone swimming off the canoes from time to time on previous days of the trip, but with this current it was not necessary to paddle as much, and at this time it was much more refreshing and enjoyable to be in the water.

The conquerers of Swamp Base High Adventure 2017 stand with paddles in hand at the end of their successful journey.

At the end of our paddling adventure, we had completed 61.6 miles of canoeing the swamps and lakes of this amazing area over five days. We had a sense of accomplishment at completion, and all of us agreed if offered the chance to conquer the Swamp again, we would be there! 

Y’all come back now, won’t ya?!

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Old Lyme Land Trust Announces Annual Kayak Regatta, Sept. 10

The Old Lyme Land Trust hosts the 4th Annual Kayak Regatta, Sept. 10.

All kayakers and canoers are invited to join the 4th annual Kayak Regatta. The Regatta will launch at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 10, from the Lieutenant River boat launch, located on Rte. 156 near Ferry Rd.

The launch will start on the rising tide; boaters can take the opportunity to put ashore at the Morning Glory Café for lunch or to meet with friends, or continue up river to explore from the water the natural beauty and features of the Lieutenant River.

The river was once a thriving boat building center and is now a serene protected waterway surrounded by salt marsh and cliffs. The tour will pass several Old Lyme Land Trust preserves, Lohmann Buck Twining and the Roger Tory Peterson Refuge. On the eastern bank of the river the Regatta will pass the picturesque grounds of the Bee and Thistle Inn and the Florence Griswold Museum. During the high tide, a side trip up the Mill Brook River is possible. Beaver dams and fish ladders can be seen before reaching Rogers Lake.

The Regatta will be led by Fred Fenton, an experienced kayaker and a long time director of the Old Lyme Land Trust (OLLT). Fenton will point out special features of the area and answer questions about the preserves.

The return trip will start about 3 p.m. as the tide changes

The Regatta will be held rain or shine. No registration is needed and there is no charge for the Regatta. Donations to the OLLT will be gratefully accepted.

For more information, visit www.oldlymelandtrust.org or contact fredffenton@gmail.com. Send your e-mail if you would like to be notified of cancellation.

Personal flotation devices, i.e. life jackets are mandatory.

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Lyme Land Trust Celebrates 50 Glorious Years of Conserving Land


The Lyme Land Conservation Trust celebrated its 50th anniversary last Saturday with a barbecue picnic on the field next to the iconic Grassy Hill Church that the Land Trust saved several years from being turned into a housing development.


In keeping with the Land Trust’s tradition of focusing its energies on environmental preservation rather than social galas, the picnic was low-key and informal.


President John Pritchard’s remarks were brief, noting the Land Trust’s astounding success in helping to protect the rural character of Lyme, thanking the picnic volunteers, and reminding the picnickers that they are responsible for the Land Trust’s achievements.


He then turned the microphone back the Plywood Cowboy band, which provided lively music for the event.

And clearly a good time was had by all!

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Old Lyme’s Children’s Learning Center Creates a Delicious ‘Edible Garden’

The OLCLC Edible Garden is thriving.

The cold start to the month of June may have had many gardeners worried about their harvest. Thanks to the pro bono labor of Anu Koiv, the children of the Old Lyme Children’s Learning Center (OLCLC) have already been enjoying fruits and vegetables from their thriving edible garden.

Anu Koiv not only works pro bono on the edible garden, but also on the beds that surround the OLCLC.

“Not only do the kids get to learn about eating healthy foods, but they learn about sustainability and how to manage their own garden,” says Alison Zanardi, director of the OLCLC. It is not very often that preschoolers have the opportunity to interact with a garden and a myriad of different fruits and vegetables like this one. The kids can interact with the plants in the sensory garden, feeling and smelling different tantalizing plants, like mint, cacti and more.

Vegetables patiently waiting to be picked by the preschoolers.

Preschoolers are free to walk around the garden during their time outside and select whatever food that they choose from their luscious garden. Kale chips, fresh tomatoes, blueberries, and strawberries are often enjoyed as snacks.

More vegetables in the Edible Garden that are ‘ripe for the picking’ by the preschoolers.

Anu Koiv is the mastermind behind the garden, and the staff and students are all extremely appreciative of the work she has done.  Not only is she building a garden for the benefit of the preschooler’s education, but also to benefit the wildlife who will be inhabiting the garden. “We’re inviting nature back into the landscape of the courtyard. Each and every plant has ornamental and food value,” notes Koiv.

Pike’s Playground is named in honor of Connie Pike, founder of the OLCLC.  Children can interact with plants in the sensory garden.

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Volunteers Needed to Control Invasive Plant in Local Rivers, Reserve an Informational Talk at Your Club/Organization

Water chestnut is an invasive plant that is easy for volunteers to remove & keep under control. Join CRC for upcoming volunteer events to learn about & remove this invasive plant.

There is an emerging threat to the Connecticut River and the waters within its basin that any boater, paddler, angler or property manager can help control. European water chestnut (Trapa natans) is an aquatic invasive plant that spreads rapidly, covering bodies of water with dense foliage impeding recreational activities such as boating, fishing, and swimming.

The Connecticut River Conservancy (CRC), formerly Connecticut River Watershed Council, is hosting a variety of opportunities this summer for residents to learn more and help remove this threat.

Quick and thorough action must be taken to prevent this plant from taking over because water chestnut reproduces exponentially. “The good news is that this plant is easy to identify, it reproduces only by seed, and pulls up easily,” notes Alicea Charamut, River Steward for the Connecticut River Conservancy.

She continues, “It can be managed by trained volunteers. For small to moderate infestations, no chemicals or equipment are needed other than willing volunteers in canoes, kayaks, and shallow draft boats. This work offers an opportunity for those of us who love our rivers, lakes and ponds to give back to them in a fun and easy way.”

There are two opportunities to learn to identify and report the plants. CRC hosted an information session at the Connecticut River Museum in Essex on Tuesday, June 13, and will do so again at LL Bean at Evergreen Walk in South Windsor on Friday, June 19. Both events are at 6:30 p.m. There will be a brief presentation, live plants on display, and plenty of time for questions.

Charamut is also available to give talks to groups within the Connecticut River watershed, who want to bring this information to their organization or club.

Paddlers and boaters can also help CRC manage known infestations. Five hand-pulling events are already scheduled for the floating meadows of the Mattabesset River in Middletown and Keeney Cove in Glastonbury in June and July with more to be scheduled as new infestations are reported. The work is fairly easy, a little dirty and very rewarding. Supplies are provided. Those who wish to attend need only bring their boat and PFD.

In addition, CRC is coordinating a River Sweep of the Connecticut River, its coves and ponds to scout for this invasive plant. “Because the seeds from these plants can last for up to twelve years, knowing where these plants have been found is crucial. In order to effectively control the spread of these plants we must monitor locations where they have been found each year and have as many eyes on the water as possible.” Paddling and boating groups can adopt a section of the river to scout for plants on or around Saturday, June 24.

“It will take a community of those who care coming together to help control this plant,” says Charamut. The Connecticut River Conservancy joins many partners in the effort to control water chestnut in the Connecticut River watershed. The US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Lower Connecticut River Council of Governments, Jonah Center for Earth and Art, Connecticut River Museum, and the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station are all active participants working to help control this aquatic invasive plant.

More groups are encouraged to join the effort. Much of the work in the lower Connecticut River Valley here in Connecticut is possible thanks to a generous grant from the Rockfall Foundation.

For more information about education and volunteer opportunities to help control European water chestnut, visit www.ctriver.org/get-involved or contact Alicea Charamut at acharamut@ctriver.org.

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Potapaug Presents ‘Bears in CT’ at Old Lyme Town Hall, June 1

Potapaug Audubon presents “Bears in Connecticut” on Thursday, June 1, at 7 p.m. at the Old Lyme Town Hall, 52 Lyme St, with guest speaker Paul Colburn, DEEP, Master Wildlife Conservationist.

This talk will focus on the natural history, habitat, diet, behavior, population and reproduction of bears, plus the current research efforts and practical recommendations for coexistence between the black bear and humans.

Black bear artifacts will be on display.

For more information, call 860-710-5811.

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CT Audubon RTPEC Offers Estuary Explorations Saturday Mornings

Osprey in flight. Photo by Brock Graham.

AREAWIDE — The Connecticut Audubon Society’s Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center is offering a new program of Saturday morning field trips to natural areas along the lower Connecticut River starting May 6.

Estuary Explorations will be led by PhD ecologist Paul Spitzer, a protégé of internationally recognized naturalist and painter, Roger Tory Peterson. Each exploration will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., with the possibility of extending the field tripinto the afternoon, depending on the participants’ interest.

The fee for each field trip is $30 per person ($25 per student) and registration is required. To register, visit this link.

Estuary Explorations will give participants a chance to learn about the Lower Connecticut River Estuary’s ecosystems and wildlife as the year progresses from the peak bird migratory season of May, through high summer, and into the late fall.

Paul Spitzer. Photo courtesy of Paul Spitzer.

Spitzer has designed the programs to follow in the footsteps of one of the 20th century’s most famous naturalists, field guide author and illustrator Roger Tory Peterson, who spent his adult life painting in his studio in Old Lyme and examining the flora and fauna of the Connecticut River Estuary and the world.

Spitzer will showcase some of Peterson’s favorite natural sites and share his extensive knowledge of the ecology of the region. Spitzer plans to lead these explorations at a “Thoreauvian saunter,” moving slowly to appreciate many of the birds, plants, and insects that Peterson once enjoyed.

While Old Lyme tends to be recognized for its scenic views and historic artist colony and arts culture, it is also situated at an important ecological hub in New England — the meeting of the waters. In this species-rich estuary, the fresh water of the vast Connecticut River and Long Island Sound mix, resulting in a wealth of natural life.

Spitzer learned his natural history while growing up in the Connecticut River Valley. He is a graduate of Old Lyme High School and continued up the river to attend Wesleyan University. He later earned his PhD in ecological sciences from Cornell University.

More recently, he has studied the now substantial Connecticut River Estuary Osprey colony as a “biomonitor” of migratory menhaden abundance, the Osprey’s preferred food source. Spitzer advocates for sustainable management practices of this keystone fish for its ecosystem, economic, and societal functions.

Working alongside Spitzer will be Old Saybrook native, Jim Arrigoni. Arrigoni has worked as a fisheries biologist in Washington State and developed protocols to evaluate stream water quality in Hong Kong. Most recently, he has taught cultural and aquatic ecology classes at Goodwin College, and he is currently completing a PhD on the conservation value of restored wetlands.

Spitzer has studied Ospreys for 50 years, his research beginning here in the Connecticut River Estuary. By the 1970’s, the impact of DDT in the ecosystem whittled the local Osprey colony down to one active nest. Spitzer was instrumental in the recovery of this important keystone species to these waters.

“The Connecticut River Ospreys are our iconic story of revival from the brink,” said Spitzer. “These guided and educational field trips will open a world of discovery about nature’s profusion in this extraordinary bioregion.”

“Migrant and resident species of the estuary watershed are particularly exciting to observe in May. I will provide up-close and expansive views of the natural world from salt marshes to Yellow Warblers in particularly beautiful places.”

After meeting at the Old Lyme I-95 Park and Ride (Exit 70), participants will enjoy three hours of ecological exploration followed by a brown bag lunch and guided discussion in the field.  Spitzer is also willing to offer optional afternoon sessions gauged by the stamina and interest of the participants.

Beyond the four Saturdays in May, the field trips will occur monthly through November.

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Potapaug Sponsors Hike in Nehantic State Forest, May 7

Potapaug Audubon is sponsoring a “Hike at Nehantic State Forest” on Sunday, May 7, with leader Leader Fran Zygmont from Litchfield Hills Audubon Society. This is a follow up to his Bird Migration program at Old Lyme Town Hall.

Meet at commuter parking lot at Exit 70 off I-95 on Rte. 156 in Old Lyme between 7  and 7:15 a.m. to carpool. Groups leave promptly for Nehantic at 7:15 a.m. to start the walk at 7:30 a.m. 

Zygmont will demonstrate a few of his amazing bird song imitations.

The rain date for the  walk is May 13.

For more information, call 860-710-5811.

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