Saturday, April 30, 2016

Quinnipiac River Tidal Marsh Trail

I grew up right by the Quinnipiac River, but never spent much time on its banks, except for the place where it runs through Sleeping Giant State Park.  Once when I was there as a teenager, my friends and I saw a guy skinny dipping in the river, and as we watched, he emerged from the water and turned to face us, giving us a full frontal view of his hanging majesty.

Other people who swam in that river include my mother, Ruth Lorenson Cadrain, who grew up in the Fair Haven section of New Haven and used to swim at Dover Beach, a public beach along the river in New Haven.  She said there were whirlpools there. I can't find an image of Dover Beach.  It was so long ago.  My mother was born in 1910 so she must have swam or swum there in the '20s.

Now, many moons later, it turns out that an intrepid group called the North Haven Trail Association has created a walking trail beside the river's tidal marshes where it runs through that North Haven.  Joe and I found out about it from this article in the Hartford Courant:  http://www.courancom/news/connecticut/hc-marteka-tidal-marsh-trail-0424-20160423-column.html

You reach the trail from a parking lot behind a Target store...where else?  We walked it today.

This is the only time of year when it's possible to see this lovely combination of light, bright green leaves against gray and black tree trunks.  Later on in the year this view will be different: more shady, less interesting.

The river runs right along to the right of the path in this photo, down an embankment.  The tide was coming in at the time we were there.  There was an osprey nest down there with a parent and a chick in it.  I don't have a good enough lens on my camera to show you that, but nest, parent, and chick were all down there, in the reeds.

I found this on Google Images and it purports to be the same nest I saw today, or another one along the same river:

Speaking of reeds, today was the first time I've ever seen the Sleeping Giant against a backdrop of them:

Those reeds, by the way, are phragmites, and they're invasive.  I'm not sure why that's a problem.  They look good to me.

Sleeping Giant is in Hamden, Connecticut, several miles to the north of where we were.  But from the banks of the river, we could also see East Rock, to the south, in New Haven:

This isn't a very good image of East Rock, but you can tell it's East Rock by the monument on top of it.

Here's a better image of East Rock, for the record:

I can tell you, from experiences in my teenage years, that the top of East Rock, at night, is a good makeout spot.  Ditto the top of West Rock.

East Rock, West Rock, and Sleeping Giant are all traprock ridges.  Sleeping Giant is anomalous because it runs in an east-west direction.  All the other traprock ridges in the state, which include not only East and West Rock but also the Metacomet Ridge, and others, run north and south.

In addition to the reeds, there were other lovely flora blooming at this time of year:

This is a cherry tree.  Maybe.

This little item is Garlic Mustard, also known as alliaria petiolata.  Like the phragmites, it's invasive.  It was introduced from Europe as a culinary herb (two of its other names are Sauce Alone and Poor Man's Mustard).  The problem is that its vigorous growth forces out a lot of other native plants and decreases biodiversity.

I'm not going to worry about that right now.  It was a lovely day and a lovely trail.

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