Salt Seasons

Transcend back in time to a place seemingly untouched by industrial influences. Encircled by the obscurities of nature and the euphonious chirping of crickets in the summer. The rustling of crisp leaves charred by the waning sun in autumn, and the isolated growls and groans of the winds in winter. Every season at the, seemingly obscure, William Forward Wildlife Management Area of conservation land, recites a novels worth of knowledge about the network of salt marshes, and the native vegetation and wildlife.

MassWildlife William Forward Wildlife Management Area signage in summer
Mass Wildlife – Williams Forward Wildlife Management Area
Large hay stack and trail in summer
Trail to bridge in summer
Marsh area in autumn
Large bail of hay in autumn
Large bail of hay in winter

Stretching over twenty thousand miles from Salisbury in the North to Gloucester in the South, on the shores of Massachusetts, is the Great Marsh. The William Forward Wildlife Management Area is only a part of the Great Marsh, spanning only one thousand nine-hundred and forth acres from Rowley to the adjacent town, Newbury, combining Kents Island and Mill Creek Wildlife Management Areas. Owned by the Department of Fish and Game, the area was named after a naturalist, William (Bill) Forward, an employee of the Parker River Wildlife Refugee, who became friends with the locals. The land is generally used for hunting, fishing, and trapping, but also, for hiking, boating, and bird-watching.

Fuzzy caterpillar
Bridge in summer
Salt marsh in summer
Salt marsh in summer
Salt marsh in autumn
Salt marsh in autumn
Salt marsh in winter
Bridge and large bail of hay in winter

Kents Island was named after a very early settler who passed ownership of the acreage onto their descendants. Eventually, in 1935, the land was bought by John Marquand, a Pultzer Prize winning author, and a distant descendant of the Kent family. A few years after Marquand’s death in 1960, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game purchased the distinctive property in 1974, and has owned the land ever since.

Trail into woods in summer
Road in summer
Road in autumn
Railroad tracks in autumn
Overview of salt marsh in winter

At the entrance to the William Forward Wildlife Management Area is the Nancy E. Begin Newbury Marsh Overlook, beckoning travelers and hunters onward with a stunning glimpse of the salt marsh as bait. Breathtaking views accompany the journey over the bridge, spanning Kents Island, part of a restoration project meant to restore tidal flow and provide safe access for visitors and management. The overlook was named after the recently deceased pioneer in wildlife conservation work, and artist, Nancy Begin.

View of salt marsh in summer
Nancy E. Begin Newbury Salt Marsh Overlook views in summer
Nancy E. Begin Newbury Salt Marsh Overlook signage
Views of the Nancy E. Begin Newbury Salt Marsh Overlook in autium
Nancy E. Begin Newbury Salt Marsh Overlook signage and views in autumn
Nancy E. Begin Newbury Salt Marsh Overlook views in autumn
Nancy E. Begin Newbury Salt Marsh Overlook in winter

If you take a trip further down Hay Street from the Nancy E. Begin Newbury Marsh Overlook, you will come across Newman Road, on the left, which cuts directly through the marsh and goes up the one-hundred and sixty eight foot hill known as Old Town Hill, formerly called, Quascacunquen by the Indigenous people. The hill has a few panoramic views of the marsh and New Hampshire’s Isle of Shoals, and roughly six miles of trails.

Trail and overview of marsh in summer
views of abandoned paddle boat in transition from summer to autumn
Salt marsh in summer
Salt marsh on cloudy day in autumn
Salt marsh on cloudy day in autumn
Salt marsh bridge in winter
Flooding and snow on the salt marsh in winter

Truthfully, to delight in the stunning vista of the William Forward Wildlife Management Area, it is advised to travel at least once every season to achieve the full panoramic experience, sense the magnetism, and comprehend why the Great Marsh is vital to the the costal ecosystem and our economy.

Close up of abandoned paddle boat in transition from summer to autumn

Love to birdwatch? Over three-hundred species of bird have been sited in the Great Marsh and seventy-five rare species.

Scenic view with two seats in summer
Scenic view with two seats in autumn

21 responses to “Salt Seasons

  1. We also live in the middle of an area of salt marshes and an internationally protected wetland (RAMSAR) at the coast of North Norfolk. It looks a bit like on the other side of the Atlantic.
    We love especially your winter pictures.
    Keep well
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

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    • That sound beautiful! I have never been to Norfolk but it is certainty on my list of places. I am sure the salt marshes are just as important and just gorgeous as they are here. Cheers, all the way from Massachusetts!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. How fortunate that we have these areas protected for our enjoyment and for the benefit of our eco systems. Looks such a beautiful area. Here in Australia we don’t have marshes as such but do have some wonderful wetlands which attract a variety of birds. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is just gorgeous! I have never been to Australia but I have always wanted to travel there – it is such another world to me – so far away, yet so beautiful and so different than anything I grew up around. Thanks for commenting and sharing + cheers, all the way from Massachusetts!

      Liked by 1 person

      • There is always beauty to be found close to home if we look. However, I do worry as our population growth explodes and our urban areas sprawl more into our countryside, that our planet is under stress. So a big shout out to those wonderful people who are doing their bit to keep our natural environment for future generations. Australia is beautiful and diverse like the USA. Hopefully, we will get to travel around our country more as our borders open up.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Very much agreed! Beauty can be found everywhere and our planet is under a ton of stress and has been for some time now. If only we can be more aware of our eco footprints and do what we can to reduce unnecessary waste. Our planet is worth preserving and cherishing!

        Liked by 1 person

      • While there is so much greed and inequality in the world the fate of the planet is more vital than ever. Sadly for those who do not get to see these natural places, it will not be missed until it is gone. Conservation and raising awareness is needed as well as all of us doing whatever we can do.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I have a lot of magical places near me too. I am dreading the upcoming Easter break when there so many people in the area especially after being in lockdown restrictions. We need better management and resources so we love these places to death! Keep up the lovely blogs!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Love your reflections on these beautiful wild spaces. The images almost ethereal. Though I’m no expert on birds, I have observed them all my life and was a junior member of the ‘Gould’s Bird Observer Club’ as a child. I am enthralled to know some of the 300 species in that neck of the woods. At home we are enjoying watching a family of finches fledge their three chicks! (Right on our balcony!) Loved the images of the two chairs looking out toward the horizon! Great post.

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    • Thank you for your insightful comment! I wish I had seen more of the species that reside in the salt marsh when I was visiting, but I didn’t go too far into the woodlands area…there is always next summer though! At home, I love birdwatching (and so do my cats!) We also have wild turkeys that frequent our backyard, they are fascinating to watch up close. The two chairs are my favorite as well, so naturally, I had to snap an image for every season 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! It was a bittersweet post, as I miss traveling back to the marsh to capture photos, but was glad to see the post complete. Maybe another seasonal post is in my future…

      Like

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