Additional Wildlife Sanctuaries on the North Shore

Cedar Pond Wildlife Sanctuary
Cedar Pond Wildlife Sanctuary

Mass Audubon’s wildlife sanctuary network on the North Shore includes 17 properties. Of these, 9 are ready to be explored with marked trails, maps, and signage including: 

Eastern Point, Gloucester
Endicott, Wenham
Ipswich River, Topsfield
Joppa Flats, Newburyport
Marblehead Neck, Marblehead
  Nahant Thicket, Nahant
Nashoba Brook, Westford
Rocky Hill, Groton
Rough Meadows, Rowley
     

At Ipswich River and Joppa Flats, you will also find nature centers with naturalists to help inform your experience. Kettle Island, off Manchester-by-the-Sea, is home to an important colony of nesting birds; it has no formally designated trails and is best enjoyed by kayak.

The other 7 wildlife sanctuaries (listed below) are conserved lands that are largely comprised of wetlands. While open to the public, they do not include established trails, maps, signage, or designated parking areas. Many of them are best viewed and appreciated from a distance by canoe or kayak.


Cedar Pond Wildlife Sanctuary, Wenham

158 acres

Location

Just south of Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary, Cedar Pond Wildlife Sanctuary is bisected east to west by Cherry Street. It lies within a mosaic of protected conservation lands that includes Ipswich River and several large state forest and park areas. The northern section includes portions of Wenham Swamp, and the southern section contains an informal trail system that existed prior to Mass Audubon’s ownership.

Conservation Features

The wildlife sanctuary contains approximately 110 acres of upland forest, 27 acres of wooded swamp, 10 acres of marsh, open water, and bog, 4 acres of shrubland, and 7 acres of field. The wetlands include Cedar Pond and Meadow Pond. There is an Atlantic white cedar wetland along the shore of Cedar Pond, and also a sphagnum bog and several vernal pools on the property.

The wildlife sanctuary is within the Eastern Essex County Interior Forest Important Bird Area, and its mix of habitat types offers nesting habitat to numerous species as well as resting and feeding habitat during migration. Some 15 species of birds that are priorities for conservation have been recorded at Cedar Pond. Also seen here: the blue-spotted salamander and 34 species of odonates (dragonflies and damselflies) including lilypad forktail, aurora damsel, and hudsonian whiteface. In addition, approximately 175 plant species have been recorded on the wildlife sanctuary.

Nearby Places to Explore

Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary (Topsfield) • Rough Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary (Rowley) • Joppa Flats Education Center (Newburyport)


Annisquam Salt Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary, Gloucester

5 acres

Location

The exact location of Annisquam Salt Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary (sometimes referred to as Cut Creek Wildlife Sanctuary) is ambiguous since it is situated within a large complex of salt marshes to the north or west of Rust Island (located on the west side of the Annisquam River) and immediately north of where Route 128 crosses the Annisquam River. 

Conservation Features

The original 1808 deed describes this property as “a piece of salt marsh land.” The property bounds described in this deed run along the creek and several ditches without reference to compass directions. Over the more than two centuries since the deed was written, it is likely that the course of the creek has changed somewhat, and the alignment of the ditches may have been altered, making precisely relocating the parcel very difficult. The salt marshes in this area are rich habitat for a variety of birds, mammals, and invertebrates.

Nearby Places to Explore

Eastern Point Wildlife Sanctuary (Gloucester) • Endicott Wildlife Sanctuary (Wenham)


Fish Brook Wildlife Sanctuary, Boxford

6 acres

Location

Fish Brook Wildlife Sanctuary (also known as the Hardy Property) is a small property surrounded by conservation land, including Boxford State Forest. It is located west of Middleton Road in Boxford, in or near the eastern portion of an area called Longmeadow Swamp, situated on the border of two tributaries to the Ipswich River. Conservation land owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (Boxford State Forest and Boxford Wildlife Sanctuary) and Essex County Greenbelt Association surround the sanctuary. 

Conservation Features

Red maple and eastern white pine dominate Longmeadow Swamp. Sweet pepperbush, spicebush, and highbush blueberry are common in the dense woody understory. A few glossy buckthorn shrubs are present in some areas, but the area is mostly free of invasive plant species, even in areas disturbed by beaver activity. Herbaceous vegetation is sparse and includes skunk cabbage, cinnamon fern, and scattered grasses and sedges. 

Nearby Places to Explore

Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary (Topsfield)


Norman’s Woe Wildlife Sanctuary, Gloucester

35 acres

Location

Three non-contiguous parcels are situated in a residential area off Hesperus Avenue. A private residence and driveway is on one of these sites.

Conservation Features

The wildlife sanctuary contains an oak-hemlock-white pine forest. The central parcel features several forested wetlands. The northern parcel contains a freshwater wetland and borders a brackish marsh along its southern boundary.

Nearby Places to Explore

Eastern Point Wildlife Sanctuary (Gloucester)


Straitsmouth Island Wildlife Sanctuary, Rockport

32 acres

Location

Encompassing most of a rocky island 500 feet from the mainland in Rockport, the wildlife sanctuary is adjacent to the town-owned historic lighthouse and lies within a designated Important Bird Area.

Conservation Features

Straitsmouth is a granite island with steep rocky shores in most locations. The island is also covered with a dense vegetation of shrubs, brambles, and poison ivy, which make access to and across the island extremely difficult. Mass Audubon is working with the Town of Rockport and the Thacher Island Association to restore and maintain the lighthouse and lighthouse keeper residence, which are both historically significant structures.

Nearby Places to Explore

Eastern Point Wildlife Sanctuary (Gloucester) • Rough Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary (Rowley) • Joppa Flats Education Center (Newburyport) • Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary (Topsfield)


House Island Wildlife Sanctuary, Manchester-by-the-Sea

10 acres

Location

This rocky island lies approximately 2,000 feet south of Gales Point in Manchester-by-the-Sea and is situated within the Essex County Coastal Bird Islands Important Bird Area.

Conservation Features

Approximately one-half the island is covered with dense vegetation. Beyond the rocky shoreline is a dense band of deciduous shrubs and vines (including poison ivy), within which lies a forest comprised of deciduous trees. This wildlife sanctuary is part of a cluster of islands that hosts nesting colonial waterbirds, such as herons, egrets, ibises, and other species. There are currently no colonies using this island, but colonies are roosting on nearby Kettle Island and other islands in the vicinity. Public access to House Island is limited to scheduled Mass Audubon programs only.

Nearby Places to Explore

Eastern Point Wildlife Sanctuary (Gloucester) • Rough Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary (Rowley) • Joppa Flats Education Center (Newburyport) • Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary (Topsfield)


Norwood Mills Wildlife Sanctuary, Rockport

13 acres

Location

On Cape Ann, west of Granite Street (Route 127) near Halibut Point in Rockport, the southern boundary of the sanctuary abuts the town-owned Pine Pit Conservation Area.

Conservation Features

The sanctuary is dominated by native plant species and two streams cross the property flowing south to north. There is a small stone dam on the stream that crosses the western side of the property. The impoundment behind this stream has largely filled with sediment and is vegetated with a shrub swamp that is transitioning into a forested wetland. Rock outcroppings are common and slopes are steep in some locations.

Nearby Places to Explore

Eastern Point Wildlife Sanctuary (Gloucester) • Rough Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary (Rowley) • Joppa Flats Education Center (Newburyport) • Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary (Topsfield)