Today's guest blogger is Alexa Furtado, the Event and Marketing Coordinator for Friends of Ballard Park. The park truly is one of Newport's natural gems; a quiet place to breathe deeply and reconnect with the great outdoors. Those are just some of the reasons why director Wes Anderson decided to shoot part of his Academy Award nominated film, Moonrise Kingdom, throughout Ballard Park in 2011.

 

From Alexa: The buds are ready to burst on the trees and the red-winged blackbirds are singing at Newports only nature preserve. Over the next few weeks the trails of Ballard Park will be every shade of green imaginable as spring hits Newport.

 

Located at the corner of Hazard and Wickham Roads in Newport, Ballard Park is a thirteen acre nature preserve with a trail system that runs a little over a mile and takes hikers through steep terrain, offers spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean and unique peeks at Newport mansions. Swamp maple trees line the upper loop trail which once served as a pasture for the barn next door which was lovingly converted into a single family home a few years ago. Boardwalks cover most of the muddy areas but be sure to check them out as you may spy the tracks of the white-tailed deer and Eastern cottontail rabbit. Trees with shallow root systems have toppled over in this area creating unique habitats for birds and fox. Walking along the twin ledges trail, the mating call of the red-tailed Hawk may be heard, as well as the knocking of the Downy and red-bellied woodpecker. The white-throated sparrow, Northern Junco and Golden-crowned Kinglet are nesting in the park before migrating north for the season. Every day is a great time to enjoy the parks fresh air as the lichen and moss which grow on the rock ledge indicate.

 

In May, youll want to walk the valley trail and enjoy a whiff of the lily of the valley which carpets the area. If you follow the trail to the meadow listen for the stream which bubbles down the cliffside in the rainy months. If you make your way towards it, you may find jack-in-the-pulpit in bloom. In the three acre meadow the Mallard ducks like to swim in the vernal pond. A grove of pussy willow stand in the ponds center and a large Norway Maples graces its bank. Rock from this area was quarried to build summer cottages like Rough Point, Eldersee and The Hedges. The rock was also used in stone walls and the gravel that paved the Ocean Drive.

 

Today, deer, coyote, rabbit, squirrels, snakes and lots of insects thrive in the tall grasses of the meadow. Robins have traveled in flocks all winter but will soon appear in the meadow solo or in pairs to feed on worms as the ground thaws.

 

A trails map of is available on the Friends of Ballard Park website, http://ballardpark.org/Ballard_Park_Trails_Map.pdf. Ballard Park is open every day from sunrise to sunset but Friends of Ballard Park hosts special events during off hours. Be sure to check their schedule online. You can sign up to receive their newsletter and receive invitations to events, like our upcoming Earth Day celebration. On Saturday, April 27 Friends of Ballard Park invites the public to celebrate Earth Day in the quarry meadow. A clean-up of Ballard Park will begin at 9am, followed by a free tour of the park at 11am. Participation in the clean-up is not required for the tour. On Sunday, May 5 from 8 to 9am Lauren Parmelee, an expert birder, will lead a walk through Ballard Park to look for feathered friends and migratory species. There is a suggested $5 donation for this event.

 

For more information about Ballard Park, visit www.ballardpark.org or call 401.619.3377.