Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, consisting of 3,400 acres in two units along 12 miles of the Concord and Sudbury Rivers, was established and is managed for migratory birds. Visit both of the reserve units to get a feeling for the true magnitude of the refuge. The site in Sudbury has the visitor center and headquarters, as well as a 1-mile trail skirting a pond, a Red Maple swamp, a marsh, and upland woods. The Concord unit has extensive dikes, which enclose freshwater impoundments bursting with American Lotus and other diverse plant life. An observation tower at the main parking area and a few photographers’ blinds offer different perspectives on the marsh and pond life.
More than 220 species of birds have been seen here, from soaring, tilting Turkey Vultures to skulking, bobbing Northern Waterthrushes. The refuge waters teem with Canada Geese, Mallards, American Black Ducks, Blue-winged Teals, and Wood Ducks, all of which can be seen trailing lines of youngsters in late spring and early summer. The woodlands shelter some of the most colorful New England songbirds, including Baltimore Orioles, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, and Scarlet Tanagers, while the skies are liberally sprinkled from spring to fall with dashing swallows of many species. Raptors such as Red-tailed and Broad-winged Hawks and Great Horned Owls are also common, though usually much less obvious.
If you visit during the warm-weather months, take time to identify, photograph, sketch, and just enjoy some of the myriad damselflies and dragonflies that reside here. They belong to a marvelously varied order of insects, with such euphonious English names as skimmer, glider, dancer, bluet, and jewelwing. Their manner is dashing, their colors are bedazzling. There is no better place to become acquainted with these glorious creatures than at the marshes, ponds, and riversides of Great Meadows.
Have you been to this park? How many stars would you give it?