Join BTLT and our conservation neighbors again this year for the Spring Birding Extravaganza!
Birders of all ages and experience levels are invited to take part in the seventh annual Birding Extravaganza, a free series of birding events sponsored by four conservation organizations in Midcoast Maine. Merrymeeting Audubon (MMA), Kennebec Estuary Land Trust, Harpswell Heritage Land Trust, and Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust have collaborated to offer opportunities to watch for and learn about a wide range of birds, both seasonal migrants and permanent residents.
The series is a way to encourage community members to enjoy and learn about the our beautiful natural areas and introduces folks to all of the land trusts’ preserves and trails. The protected areas of the three land trusts cover thirteen towns in a region known as a global hotspot for migratory birds.
“The land trusts work hard to provide a variety of trails for the public to experience the natural wonder of our region. It’s thrilling to showcase these special outdoor places by birding with people of all ages,” said Carrie Kinne, Executive Director of the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust,
“The series gives the perfect excuse to visit and experience a new outdoor place not so far from home.”
“Every year this series is an absolute favorite with our community,” said Lee Cataldo, Outreach and Education Coordinator at Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust. “We truly love this partnership with the neighboring land trusts and MMA. It is such a great way to bring folks from all over the region to new trails and properties, and to get to see some of the amazing migratory birds that pass through the Midcoast.”
This year, we will offer Maine Bird Atlas training, a movie screening, bird walks throughout the area, and more! These walks are accessible to many, including outings for experienced and novice birders, families and those unable to walk great distances.
All events are free and open to the public. You can visit the websites of the four hosting organizations for more information on these terrific treks to observe our feathered friends.
List of Events:
Thursday, April 25th from 7pm: The Messenger film screening at Frontier in Brunswick
Freeport Wild Bird Supply and Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust will present this film screening of Su Rynard’s documentary exploring the beautiful world of songbirds, our connection to them, and their uncertain fate. Tickets may be purchased by clicking HERE.
Saturday, April 27th from 3 – 5pm: Maine Bird Atlas Training Workshop at Curtis Memorial Library’s Morrell Meeting Room
Join the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust for a workshop to develop your birdwatching skills to support The Maine Bird Atlas, an effort to survey and map the distribution and abundance of breeding and wintering birds in Maine. It is a project of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, in partnership with the Maine Natural History Observatory, Maine Audubon, the Biodiversity Research Institute, and the public. The project will run from 2018-2022 and will enable conservationists and researchers to assess changes in the distribution of birds species and populations around the state.
Sunday, May 5th at 7:30am: Bird walk at Brunswick Town Commons with Dale Dorr
Dale Dorr will lead a walk through the Brunswick Town Commons. Please join us for this early migration walk in Brunswick’s Town Commons with its mix of vernal pools, pitch pine stands and old field. This time in the season it is uncertain which species will have made the migration to mid coast Maine, but the Commons have had nesting hawk and owl families in the past and should produce a good mix of the hardier species of songbirds.
Thursday, May 16th at 7:30am: Bird walk at Crystal Spring Farm with Jan Pierson
Join expert birder Jan Pierson for a popular annual outing to Brunswick Topsham Land Trust’s Crystal Spring Farm in Brunswick. This walk is through a variety of habitats, including fields, forests, and wetland. We hope to see sparrows, Bluebirds, Bobolinks, and several species of warblers. Bring your binoculars, and meet at Crystal Spring Farm’s Farmers’ Market Green on Pleasant Hill Road in Brunswick.
Sunday, May 19th from 7 – 11:30am: Bird walk at the Brunswick Town Commons with Gordon Smith and John Berry
Information for Harpwell Heritage Land Trust and Kennebec Estuary Land Trust events may be found here:
On February 10, Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust teamed up with Six Rivers NEMBA, Midcoast Conservancy, and the Merrymeeting Wheelers for a group fat tire mountain bike ride at Neptune Woods. Over 40 people attended and many ended up at the Brews for a Cause Fundraiser to benefit BTLT hosted by Flight Deck Brewing on Brunswick Landing.
Patrick Gabrion posted about the ride on the cycling blog, Pedal 2 Page, covering the event.
I heard one participant say, “I love these trails,” and that was the sentiment expressed by many others. Here’s my take on the four miles of loops:
* Well groomed and the abundance of trees kept icy conditions to a minimum
* Wooden bridges, not too many and short, were wide enough that they didn’t create freak-out moments
* Well marked
* Ample parking
* Despite the occasional plane taking off at the nearby airport, the wooded area was quiet and peaceful
BTLT reached out to Six Rivers NEMBA to run Sunday’s ride. In the end, the event represented a collaboration between BTLT, Six Rivers, the Merrymeeting Wheelers and the Midcoast Conservancy, which provided 20 fat bikes to loan to participants.Pedal 2 Page
“The number of participants was staggering,” said Lawrence Kovacs, president of Six Rivers NEMBA.
The Times Record covered the growing trend of fat biking last week and mentioned our upcoming event on February 10.
Curious about trying it out for yourself? Join us this Sunday at Neptune Woods on Brunswick Landing for a group ride led by Six Rivers NEMBA. For registrants without bikes, Midcoast Conservancy who will bring 20 fat bikes to loan out. There is still space available for this FREE event. Click HERE to register today!
A growing group of locals are hoping to stay fit on fat bikes this winter, even as the offroad trails they traverse are covered with snow and ice.
Fat bikes are made for off-road terrain, designed with over-sized tires to handle unstable trails and snow.
Increasing trail options and growing interest in local biking options has led to many in the cycling community getting off the road and into the woods all year. Lee Huston, the former owner of Center Street Cycles in downtown Brunswick, noticed the shift while he owned the shop.
“Right now, everybody is riding in the woods,” he said.
One motivator for riding off-road is a growing fear of being struck by a distracted driver, Huston said.
That fear may be well-founded. According to a recent report in the Portland Press Herald, the Maine Department of Public Safety estimates that distracted driving is a factor in up to 40 percent of the 35,000 annual crashes last year.
“A lot of people are afraid to ride on the road,” Huston said, “but people are also a lot more nature-oriented … .”
Huston credits groups like the Merrymeeting Wheelers and the New England Mountain Bike Association Six Rivers chapter for keeping the community active.
“Every week we’ve had a fat bike ride with 20 to 25 people,” said Six Rivers President Lawrence Kovacs. “It’s brought people out in freezing temperatures. We’ve had night rides. It’s really exploded in recent years.”The Times Record, January 30
Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority (MRRA), Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust (BTLT), and the Six Rivers chapter of the New England Mountain Bike Association (6R-NEMBA) are excited to announce the creation of four miles of mountain bike trails on newly conserved property at Brunswick Landing, the former Naval Air Station Brunswick (NASB).
Neptune Woods is a 64-acre parcel that was deeded to MRRA by the Navy and is home to a section of the former Navy Fit trail. Because of its proximity to the Recreation Center and the existing trails, this parcel had been identified by several mountain bike enthusiasts in the Brunswick community as a good location for beginner-friendly mountain bike trails. The region has a lack of beginner trails, and with a need for trails to support the highly successful new Youth Mountain Bike Program being offered by Brunswick Rec Department, the project seemed like a great opportunity. Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust worked closely with community partners to develop the most effective way to proceed.
MRRA generously donated the land to BTLT to hold for recreation and conservation in perpetuity, while the fledgling 6R-NEMBA designed and built the trails. Mid Coast Hospital’s Access Health group provided funding for materials needed to build bridges, while dozens of community members (as young as 5 years old) volunteered to build the trials.
“We’re delighted to have been able to help the land trust and support more recreational activities at Brunswick Landing and in the Midcoast region,” MRRA Executive Director Steve Levesque said. “These trails will provide our business workforce and residents with a great opportunity to exercise and enjoy this beautiful property.”
On October 21, more than 200 community members came out to celebrate the new trails. Center Street Cycles partnered with Specialized Bikes to bring over a dozen brand new mountain bikes for attendees to try – and many did, including a number of older visitors that had never tried mountain biking before.
Nikkilee (Lee) Cataldo, Director of Programs at the Land Trust and secretary of the 6R-NEMBA Board, welcomed visitors on a chilly Sunday morning. “The trails at Neptune Woods are just a first step in what we hope is a much larger inter-connected trail system that allows our community to have fun, stay healthy, and enjoy the outdoors,” Cataldo said.
This was an idea the crowd seemed to appreciate. Lawrence Kovaks, president of the 6R-NEMBA board noted the value of partnerships like the ones that created the trails at Neptune – no one of the groups could have done it alone, but it was clear from the crowd that working together met a community need.
The Land Trust is very excited to offer its first mountain bike trails on BTLT lands, and very much look forward to working more with these partners and others to further develop mixed-use trails and trail corridors to support our community’s wellness!
To support the needs of this new property, BTLT is devoting Giving Tuesday to Neptune Woods. If you enjoy these trails and want to support their maintenance and creation of more like them, please visit www.btlt.org/giving-tuesday-neptune.
A huge thank you to everyone involved!
September 26, 2018
The Dempsey Challenge is coming through Brunswick on Sunday! To learn more, read the latest story on the Challenge by the Forecaster.
As part of its 10th anniversary this weekend, the Dempsey Challenge has devised a new cycling route that includes Brunswick and Harpswell.
The Dempsey Challenge Sept. 29 and 30 is an annual two-day, non-competitive run, walk and cycling fundraiser. Proceeds go to Dempsey Centers, an organization founded by actor Patrick Dempsey to help Mainers and their families impacted by cancer.
To read more, click here.
On the last day of August, Louis Giller of North Spore Mushroom Company joined a group of eager foragers at Bradley Pond Farm Preserve. Louis started the program by introducing three different types of edible wild mushrooms that we should look for in the forest: chicken of the woods, chanterelles, and black trumpets. He talked about look-alike mushrooms that may be dangerous and responsible foraging techniques. Collecting and eating wild mushrooms is not to be taken lightly!
Before setting off on the trail, Louis made sure to remind participants of the Leave No Trace principles, something that all foragers should remember when walking through the woods. Although a few of them didn’t apply to the foray (I hoped we wouldn’t need a fire…), it doesn’t hurt to refresh on the rules of the wild!
- Plan ahead and prepare.
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
- Dispose of waste properly.
- Leave what you find.
- Minimize campfire impacts (be careful with fire).
- Respect wildlife.
- Be considerate of other visitors.
We started out hoping to cover the Upper Loop Trail and the Perimeter Trail, although with so much wandering around, it became clear shortly after setting out that we would not be able to cover that much ground. Looking so deeply at each square foot of forest takes a lot of time!
And take our time, we did. We looked at every bit of the ground, hoping for bright orange colors (of chicken of the woods and chanterelles) and dark black or brown (black trumpets). Although we came up short in chicken of the woods and black trumpets, we found a few beautiful patches of chanterelles. Although we weren’t searching for them, we found some old man of the woods, another edible mushroom.
The dry weather over the last couple weeks stunted the typical mushroom-boom of late-summer, but we still had a great time learning from Louis and we all left with a big handful of oyster mushrooms provided by our friends at North Spore.
Thank you, Louis!