December 7, 2019

Become a FrogWatch USA Citizen Scientist!

The Connecticut Audubon Society is hosting a training session for FrogWatch Citizen Scientists tonight, Tuesday, Feb. 26, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center, 90 Halls Rd., in Old Lyme. This event is co-sponsored by the Mystic Aquarium.

In just 10 minutes a week, you can collect valuable information on local frog and toad populations that help to identify the scope and geographic scale of population declines.

Throughout this two-hour workshop, participants will become certified FrogWatch USA volunteers trained in local amphibian vocalizations, ready to take charge of their own field and submit data into a national survey. As important predators and prey in the environment and indicators of environmental health, the information collected can be used to form conservation plans to protect these important species.

This program is free, but registration is requested

Stay tuned for details on a field training workshop after the thaw!

Register for 2/26 here

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RiverQuest’s ‘Winter Wildlife Eagle Cruise’ Offers Remarkable Insight, Views of CT River

This juvenile bald eagle flew alongside the RiverQuest during our recent afternoon cruise. Photo by Michael Pressman.

Oh, what a trip!

The RiverQuest at the Connecticut River Museum dock

RiverQuest hosted several members of the Fourth Estate recently on a wonderful Winter Wildlife Eagle Cruise. Temperatures were distinctly chilly last Wednesday afternoon (Feb. 13), but the heated cabin stayed warm while the boat gently sailed upstream from the Connecticut River Museum.

View from on board the RiverQuest.

The views were stunning throughout the trip and, despite the frigid temperatures, the majority of the 30 or so on board stayed outside most of the time to enjoy the whole experience to the full.

Look hard and you’ll see the mast (slightly right of center) of the sunken luxury yacht in Hamburg Cove.

As we sailed north, apart from all the wildlife on the water and in the sky, we saw the mast of the luxury yacht that has sunk in Hamburg Cove and the always delightful view of Gillette Castle high atop its East Haddam perch overlooking the Connecticut River.

Gillette Castle commands a stunning of the river.

Naturalist and lecturer Bill Yule shared a vast amount of fascinating facts, figures, history, happenings, and anecdotes about the river and its inhabitants, ably accompanied by naturalist and crew member Cathy Malin.

Naturalist Bill Yule shared a great deal of interesting information with the passengers.

Both were on board for the duration of the trip and, while not busy disseminating information in a lively and engaging manner, they were actively spotting and identifying wildlife of all shapes and sizes on, above and alongside the river and its banks.  They also took great care to ensure the  passengers were at all times warm, comfortable … and supplied with plenty of hot coffee!

Cathy Malin kept her eyes on the prize and was rewarded with sightings of 13 bald eagles on this trip..

Although named an ‘Eagle Cruise,’ the sighting of an eagle cannot, of course, be guaranteed, but we were fortunate to see 13 bald eagles on our trip, one flying immediately alongside the RiverQuest, and also enjoyed numerous sightings of cormorants, black-backed gulls, and common merganser ducks.

An adult bald eagle spotted during our cruise keeps a close watch on everything happening on the river beneath him. Photo by Michael Pressman.

The bald-headed eagle — the national emblem of the United States of America — reaches maturity at around age four when it acquires its signature white head and maximum wingspan of approximately six feet.

All eyes — and binoculars– were on the sky … and water.

Declared an endangered species in 1973 with the passage of the federal Endangered Species Act, bald eagle populations slowly began to recover following the ban on DDT, and by 2007, populations had recovered to such an extent that the species has now been removed from the endangered species list.

There were a number of professional photographers on board sporting rather larger lenses than our cell phone!

The magnificent raptors are, however, still protected on the federal level by the Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle Protection Act of 1940 and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.

Spotting eagles was the job of everyone on board.

Every winter a number of bald eagles migrate south looking for open water on which to feed as the lakes and rivers in Canada and northern New England  freeze. Many of these magnificent birds stop in Connecticut and winter along major rivers and large reservoirs, where they can also be seen feeding and sometimes nesting on the banks of the Connecticut River.

A record of all the birds seen during each trip is kept in the Connecticut River Museum.

Counts taken in 2018 indicated there were 80 pairs of nesting bald eagles in Connecticut, which produced a record 68 chicks.

The Connecticut River Museum was the start and end-point of our trip.

The Connecticut River Museum is currently hosting a “Big Birds of Winter” exhibit, which offers an excellent overview of all the birds that might be seen on the river.

This mock-up of an eagle’s nest and the raptor silhouettes are part of the Connecticut River Museum’s “Big Birds of Winter”exhibition.

Your $42 ticket not only gives you two hours on the river aboard the RiverQuest, but also admission to all the exhibits at the Museum.

Our unequivocal opinion of this wonderful trip is simply, “Take it … it deserves two big thumbs up!”

Editor’s Note: For more information on Winter Wildlife Eagle Cruises, visit this link. For more information on RiverQuest and all the trips they offer, visit this link.  For more information on the Connecticut River Museum, visit this link.

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Sunken Luxury Yacht in Hamburg Cove Raised Wednesday, Whole Operation Recorded by DiNardi on Video

After extended and carefully managed efforts by Sea-Tow divers, the Mazu finally floats atop the waters of Hamburg Cove rather than under them. Photo by Frank DiNardi and published with his permission.

The luxury yacht, which sank in Hamburg Cove in January, was raised Wednesday (Feb. 20) by Sea Tow of Old Saybrook.

A Sea-Tow diver works to raise the Mazu from the floor of Hamburg Cove in Lyme. Photo by Frank DiNardi and published with his permission.

Frank DiNardi of East Haddam, who had previously filmed the yacht prior to its sinking and then after it had occurred (see our article at this link), documented the whole episode of re-floating the yacht, which was subsequently towed to a dock in Chester.

Sea-Tow divers and operatives at work alongside the Mazu. Photo by Frank DiNardi and published with his permission.

View DiNardi’s striking photographs on his Facebook page at this link.

11:07 a.m. UPDATE: DiNardi’s excellent video of the whole process is now available for viewing on YouTube at this link.

Prior to the re-float operation, this was the submerged boat in Hamburg Cove. Photo by Frank Dinardi and used with his permission.

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Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center Hosts ‘Owl Prowl’ Tonight in Old Lyme

The Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center hosts an Owl Prowl tomorrow evening from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Watch Rock Park Preserve in Old Lyme.

As most birds are settling down for the night, owls are just beginning their day. With a wide array of adaptations for being active when most of us are sleeping, owls are among the most interesting species in the bird world, and there are quite a few species here in Connecticut.

Come learn about and search for these nocturnal hunters with a naturalist from the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center on a night hike through Watch Rock Preserve. Bring a headlamp or flashlight (preferably one with a red light setting) and binoculars, and bundle up!

This event is appropriate for ages 10 and up.

The charge is $5 for members, $10 for non-members.  Registration is requested at this link.

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All About Alewives: Hear About Their Impact on Rogers Lake at RLA Meeting

Looking for an opportunity to learn much more about Rogers Lake?

The Lyme/Old Lyme Rogers Lake Authority will host Professor David Post of Yale University at their next monthly meeting scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 9, at 7:30 p.m. Post will give a presentation titled, “Alewives, and the Ecology and Evolution of Rogers Lake.”

Post and his associates have been undertaking studies on Rogers Lake for over 15 years.

He will discuss his team’s findings and observations along with the impact of alewives on fishing and water quality. Surprisingly, alewives impact both water quality and bass fishing in Rogers Lake.  

Alewives

The event will be held at the Rogers Lake West Shores Association
Clubhouse, 75 Rogers Lake Trail in Old Lyme.

All are welcome including Rogers Lake residents, fisherman and concerned citizens

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On Winter Solstice, Old Lyme Open Space Commission Reflects on 2018, Anticipates 2019

On Friday, Dec. 21, at 5:23 p.m. EST to be exact, it was the Winter Solstice in Connecticut — the darkest day of the year, with just over nine hours of light.  

The year of 2018 started out dark for the Old Lyme Open Space Commission. Diana Atwood Johnson, who served as chair for nearly 20 years, passed away on Jan. 1, after a long illness.

After the Solstice, however, days start to become lighter, and nature resumes its cycle of renewal as spring approaches. In January, Amanda Blair and William Dunbar became the new Open Space Commission co-chairs, and every member pitched in. 

The first order of business was to continue the care of Old Lyme Open Space property.  A land steward was hired; members personally walked trails to survey conditions; a service was hired to remove unsafe trees and branches; safety plans were discussed with the town fire marshal; new signage and trail markers were added; a new parking area for Champlain North was created; and the commission reached out to the Old Lyme Land Trust to work on mutual projects.  

Renewed educational efforts were also made.  For the first time, the Commission staffed a booth at the Midsummer Festival; news releases were issued; and the Open Space Commission web site was updated.

Early in 2019, the Commission expects to have some very exciting news! And work on substantial projects will accelerate – boxes of documents and correspondence on open space will be categorized, and conservation easements reviewed, as an antecedent to the drafting of a new Open Space Plan.

The Commission’s message remains: “Take a Hike!”  Don’t let winter keep you inside.  The trails are now in great shape for hiking, and when covered by snow, they’ll still be fun to snowshoe or cross-country ski.  

As weather warms in the New Year, volunteers will be gratefully welcomed for trail assistance.

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Lyme Land Trust Hosts Ribbon Cutting of George & Rosemary Moore Trail This Morning, Offers Guided Tours

A view of the Pleasant Valley Preserve through which the newly-identified trail passes.

On Saturday, Dec. 1, at 10 a.m., the Lyme Land Conservation Trust will host a ribbon cutting for the opening of the George and Rosemary Moore Trail.  This event will be held at the Mount Archer Woods Parking Lot, Mount Archer Road, Lyme.

Map showing the George and Rosemary Moore Trail.

The new trail, named to honor George and Rosemary Moore’s 14 years of service towards land preservation in Lyme, uses existing trails to provide a seven-mile scenic loop in the River to Ridgetop Preserves through several properties owned and/or managed cooperatively by the Lyme Land Trust. Town of Lyme and the Nature Conservancy. Come for the ceremony only or join a walk afterwards.

There will be three tours as follows:

1. The entire seven-mile loop. Bring a picnic lunch. This could take four or more hours depending upon the speed of the group.
2. The Northern half– about four miles. This could take about three hours. Bring a lunch if you wish.
3. Mount Archer Woods – to the ruins and back — about 3.5 miles.

All tours will start and end at the Mount Archer Parking Lot. Bring a picnic lunch and water. Snacks will be provided.  Reservations are requested at openspace@townlyme.org with your choice of which walk you wish to join.

George Moore, former president of the board and the first executive director of the Lyme Land Trust, retired in 2017. Through his vision and effective management, Moore helped transform the Land Trust into one of the most active and successful trusts in the State.

Inclement weather will cancel this event.

For more information, visit http://www.lymelandtrust.org/event/ribbon-cutting-ofgeorge-and-rosemary-moore-trail-with-guided-tours/

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Take a Post-Thanksgiving Hike Today in Hartman Park

See the Turtle Rock at Hartman Park on this hike.

Walk off your Thanksgiving overindulgence on this beautiful, moderate trail that winds along craggy ridges strewn with glacial boulders. Wendolyn Hill, Lyme Land Trust Board member, and Lyme Open Space Coordinator, will lead a walk on the Red Trail in Hartman Park on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, Nov. 25, from 1:30 to 4-ish p.m.

Meet at Hartman Park Entrance Parking Lot, Gungy Rd., in Lyme. The parking lot is on Gungy Road about 1.5 miles north of the four-way stop signs at the intersection of Beaverbrook Rd., Grassy Hill Rd., and Gungy Rd.

The route will follow a portion of the Goodwin Trail. The Goodwin Trail, overseen by the Eightmile River Wild & Scenic Coordinating Committee, is an extended trail system crossing four towns: East Haddam, Salem, Lyme and East Lyme. The entire walk is about 3.5 miles. A snack will be provided. Bring something to drink. The walk is sponsored by the Lyme land Trust and the Town of Lyme.

Rain cancels. Check lymelandtrust.org for updates.For more information, contact openspace@townlyme.org

Registration at openspace@townlyme.org would be appreciated.

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Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center Hosts ‘Turkey Walk’ Today

Photo by Peter Lloyd on Unsplash

Take a Turkey Walk on Saturday!

Join a guide from the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center on Saturday, Nov. 24, from 9 to 10 a.m. for their yearly post-Thanksgiving walk at the Jewett Preserve in Lyme. Topics of discussion will include turkeys, Thanksgiving and more during this relaxed hour-long walk while enjoying the fall foliage and outdoor family time.

Register at https://www.ctaudubon.org/2018/10/register-turkey-walk/

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Public Hearing Scheduled Tonight for Proposed Estuary Reserve in Old Lyme, Groton

Great Island, Old Lyme. Photo by Bob MacDonnell.

Some of the best wildlife habitat on the Connecticut River estuary and in southeastern Connecticut, including coves, islands, and marshes in Old Lyme, are included in a new national reserve created to bring in funding for scientific research and conservation education.

The National Estuarine Research Reserve encompasses the Lord Cove and Great Island Wildlife Management Areas in Old Lyme, and Bluff Point and Haley Farm State Parks in Groton. The research reserve is a project of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the University of Connecticut, and Sea Grant.

The Connecticut Audubon Society is calling on residents to support the new reserve at a public meeting scheduled for this evening, Nov. 13, in Groton. Officials will explain the proposal and gauge public support.

It is set for 6 to 8 p.m., in the auditorium of the Academic Building, second floor, at UConn’s Avery Point Campus, 1080 Shennecossett Road, Groton.  The schedule for tonight’s meeting is as follows:

Welcome/Meeting Goals
6:00 – 6:10
NERR System Overview (NOAA)
6:10 – 6:20
CT Selection Process (CT)
·         Big Picture (Teams/Members, Major steps, timeline)
·         Preliminary Selection Process and Results
·         Detailed Screening & Results
6:20 – 6:40
Site Overview (CT)
6:40 – 6:50
Next Steps: (CT & NOAA)
·         Nomination submission to NOAA
·         Management Plan & EIS Efforts
6:50 – 7:00
Public Q&A / Comments / Discussion
7:00 – 7:40
Wrap-up & Adjourn
7:45 – 8:00

As much as $1 million a year in funding for scientific research and monitoring, education, and stewardship will be earmarked for both sections of the reserve, to be used by scientists and others engaged in researching water quality, habitat quality, fish and wildlife, and other topics.

The reserve will also be a source of funding, materials, and field trip locations for local education programs such as Connecticut Audubon’s Science in Nature, which has reached more than 75,000 school children in Connecticut and has thrived particularly in Old Lyme and New London, the heart of the estuarine reserve area.

Officials made the announcement of the reserve recently after a two and a half-year review. Two members of the board of Connecticut Audubon’s Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center in Old Lyme – Ralph Wood and John Forbis – were on the committee of local experts who recommended the sites. Others on the committee included representatives of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the University of Connecticut, and Connecticut College.

The inclusion of the Old Lyme areas is significant because the lower Connecticut River is globally important for conservation. Estuaries in general are among the most biologically productive ecosystems on earth. The mouth of the Connecticut River and the estuary are unusual if not unique in the eastern United States because, without a big city on its shores, it has remained relatively undeveloped. The result is a vast area of extraordinarily high quality habitat.

Ospreys, terns, herons, eagles, and egrets feed and nest along the river. Ducks and geese find food and shelter in the coves over the winter. Perhaps as many as a million tree swallows roost in the reeds in late summer. The river itself teems with striped bass, blue-claw crabs, migrating herring and shad, and endangered species such as Atlantic sturgeon.

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s marine headquarters in Old Lyme and the University of Connecticut’s Avery Point campus in Groton are included in the reserve.

Directions and Parking for tonight’s meeting:
After 5 p.m., visitors may park for free in any on-campus space not designated as reserved, restricted, or limited.
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Learn How to Enhance Your Habitat for Songbirds, Beneficial Insects

Learn how to make your yard more desirable to hummingbirds like the one pictured above.

Join Audubon CT, Lyme Land Trust, and the Town of Lyme Tuesday, Nov. 13, at Lyme Public Hall to learn about enhancing your land for songbirds, wild turkeys, and beneficial insects.  At 7 p.m., DEEP wildlife biologist Peter Picone will share a fascinating presentation of his knowledge and insights on creating and improving wildlife habitat in your surroundings. 

The program is part of a project launched by Audubon Connecticut in the Important Bird Area (IBA) called the “Lyme Forest Block,” which spans forested habitat in six towns in southeastern Connecticut. The goal of the project is to teach you how to enhance your land to attract and nourish forest birds.

Lyme Public Hall is located at 249 Hamburg Rd. (Rte 156), Lyme,

For more information, email openspace@townlyme.org or visit http://www.lymelandtrust.org/event/enhancing-habitat-for-songbirds-and-beneficial-insects/

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‘Outdoors’ Columnist Presents The Day’s New Book, ‘Treasures of Southeastern Connecticut’ This Afternoon at Lyme Public Library

This afternoon, Saturday, Nov. 3, at 2 p.m., the Friends of Lyme Public Library and the Lyme Land Trust are co-hosting a presentation by Steve Fagin, Great Outdoors columnist for The Day.  Fagin will present The Day‘s newest hardcover coffee table book, Treasures of Southeastern Connecticut: Our Proud History of Preserving Scenic Woodlands, Farms, the Shoreline and Other Natural Gems. Some of the essays and photographs were provided by Lyme Land Trust members.

Event attendees will be able to pre-order the book at a 10 dollar discount. The program is free and open to all.

For more information and to register, call  the library at 860 -434-2961 or visit http://www.lymelandtrust.org/event/6164/

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Celebrate Thach Preserve Opening in Lyme Followed by Guided Walk, Nov. 4

View across the beautiful Thach Preserve in Lyme.

Join the Lyme Land Trust for an opening celebration of the Lyme Land Trust’s new Thach Preserve on Sunday, Nov. 4, at 2 p.m.  This will be followed by a guided walk with Tony Irving, forest ecologist and Lyme Land Trust board member. The walk is about one mile.

The location for the walk is Thach Preserve, 131 Brush Hill Road, Lyme.

For more information, contact stewardship@lymelandtrust.org or visit http://www.lymelandtrust.org/event/thach-preserve-opening-and-tour/

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Lyme Land Trust Hosts Stewardship Trails Boot Camp This Afternoon

Tools of the Trail Volunteer / Land Steward’s trade.

Join Lyme Land Trust on Sunday, Oct. 21, (rain date Oct. 28) from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. for a trail maintenance boot camp at Hartman Park in Lyme.

Do you love Lyme’s preserves and want to help maintain them? Come learn how you can help by becoming a trail volunteer or property steward. 

At the Boot Camp, you will learn basic trail maintenance and property stewardship tips, including what to bring with you on the trail, how to identify the most common invasive plant species, and what requires reporting back to the town or Land Trust.

You will also be introduced to the free smart phone app TrackKit. Using GPS, the app tracks your path and allows you to mark location on trails to best report a problem or downed tree. Strategies for preventing tick bites will be discussed as well.

Preserve stewards have a little more responsibility than trail volunteers: they adopt a preserve as their own and conduct regular visits to check boundaries, communicate with landowners, and submit online monitoring reports. The event is presented by the Lyme Land Trust and the Town of Lyme.

Bring along water, heavy-duty gloves, and light-weight tools: clippers, pruners, and/or loppers. Snacks will be provided.

Meet at the Main Parking Lot of Hartman Park on Gungy Rd., about one mile north of the four-way stop signs at the intersection with Beaver Brook Rd. and Grassy Hill Rd.

Registration is required at Openspace@townlyme.org

For more information, visit http://www.lymelandtrust.org/event/trail-volunteer-boot-camp-2/

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RTP Estuary Center Presents Lecture on Environmental Protection in a ‘Climate of Change,’ Oct. 18

The Connecticut Audubon Society’s Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center is hosting a 2018 Fall Lecture Series, which opens this evening with a lecture on songbird migration. These lectures are free but seating is limited.

Details of the lectures and their locations are as follows:

North on the Wing: Travels with the Songbird Migration of Spring
Thursday, Oct. 4, 5 p.m.
Essex Meadows, Essex

Bruce Beehler, a research associate in the Division of Birds of the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History will recount his 100-day journey in 2015 following the spring songbird migration from the coast of Texas, up the Mississippi, and then into the North American wood warblers’ breeding grounds in northern Ontario and the Adirondack Mountains of New York.  His presentation touches on wildlife, nature conservation, migration research, American history, and rural culture.
RSVP Here

Protecting Our Environment in a Climate of Change
Thursday, Oct. 18, 5 p.m.
Old Lyme Town Hall, Old Lyme

Connecticut and its residents have a strong history of support for protection and conservation of the environment. Our coastal and estuarine communities have a particular interest in policies and strategies to mitigate sea level rise, storm surge and protect wildlife habitats. Yet, budget constraints at the local level, state deficits, and rapidly changing federal policies with respect to standards, regulation, and enforcement, present challenges. Some states have chosen to maintain their own strict standards. What can a small state like Connecticut do? Our speaker, Commissioner Rob Klee of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, will address the challenges that policy makers face and how we can be effective advocates.
RSVP Here

Journeys: Osprey and an Author, Rob Bierregaard
Thursday, Oct. 25, 4 p.m.
Lyme Art Association, Old Lyme

Between 2000 and 2017 Rob Bierregaard and his colleagues placed GPS satellite transmitters on 47 adult and 61 juvenile Ospreys from South Carolina to the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland.  In 2013 a friend suggested that Rob write a book for children about his favorite Osprey. Five years later, Belle’s Journey: An Osprey Takes Flight, a middle-school book, was published. Rob Bierregaard will highlight his findings from satellite tracking studies of Osprey migrations and describe his own journey as a first-time children’s book author.
Note: This is a family friendly lecture. We urge you to bring your children and grandchildren.
RSVP Here

To learn more about the lecture speakers, click here

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Black Bear Kills Sheep in Lyme, Residents Warned to Take Precautions; DEEP Notes Black Bears Rarely Aggressive to Humans

Photo of the black bear seen Friday in Hadlyme. Photo by J. Bjornberg.

During the daytime hours on Friday, Emily Bjornberg, who lives on Brush Hill Rd. in Hadlyme, reports that her husband came upon a black bear attacking and subsequently killing a sheep on their property.  The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) has been informed and is monitoring the situation.

The DEEP stresses that black bears only occasionally will prey on small mammals, deer, and livestock. DEEP notes on their website that black bears are omnivorous and, “they eat grasses, forbs, fruits, nuts, and berries. They also will seek insects (particularly ants and bees), scavenge carrion, and raid bird feeders and garbage cans.”

Additional important advice from the DEEP regarding black bears is as follows:

Never feed bears
-Remove bird feeders if a bear visits them
-Add a few capfuls of ammonia to your trash bags as the smell is a deterrent
-Thoroughly clean grills after use
-Do not leave pet food outside overnight
-Do not add meats or sweets to compost

If you see a bear:
View from a safe distance and leave an escape route for the bear – do not corner him
-Make noise and wave your arms
-Stand your ground and slowly back away – do not run or climb a tree – try to go into a car or building
Black Bears are rarely aggressive towards humans. They should be respected, not feared.

For more information on black bears, visit this link.

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Celebrate the Equinox, National Public Lands Day by Exploring Lyme, Old Lyme’s Open Space

Lyme and Old Lyme both offer innumerable opportunities for walking, hiking and simply enjoying their Open Space.

Saturday, Sept. 22, will be a day of double celebration since it is both the Autumn Equinox and National Public Lands Day.

The Equinox officially marks the beginning of autumn in Connecticut, and for six months thereafter nights will be longer than days.

National Public Lands Day (NPLD), held annually on the fourth Saturday in September, was established in 1994 to celebrate the connection between people and green space in their community, and to encourage use of open space for education, recreation, and general health.

The seasonal change offers tremendous compensation. Fall’s crisper, cooler days are ideal for hiking and nature watching, and our local forests present a truly spectacular color show for leaf-peeping.

The Old Lyme Open Space Commission invites you to enjoy the town’s 600 acres of public lands. Their publication Take a Hike provides a fascinating natural history overview of open space properties. “The Hartford Courant” also recently published a Peter Marteka column on caves within the Ames Family Preserve.

Hiking maps can be found on the Open Space page on the Town of Old Lyme’s web site.

In addition to town-owned open space property, the Old Lyme Land Trust owns over 1,000 acres of scenic, historic and ecologically important land in Old Lyme. Many of these properties have well-maintained hiking trails – descriptions, directions and hiking maps can be found on their website.

Celebrate the Equinox and National Public Lands Day tomorrow, and into the fall, by visiting Old Lyme’s open space.

Share your favorite outdoor activity Saturday on social media with the hashtag #NPLD.

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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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