South End Pond
This is a great place to view waterfowl, great blue herons, ospreys and hawks, also a good spot for frogs, dragonflies and aquatic plants. An afternoon fishing is time well spent here.
Oak Grove Farm
Excellent place to view many different species of birds. Deer and other animals. Great place for a relaxing walk through the woods and fields. During the autumn season, the tree colors can be spectacular. Lots of wildflowers can be seen here.
Best spot to view Great blue herons feeding in the shallows of the pond. Also seen here is a family of Kingfishers. These birds are fascinating to watch as they hover and then dive from above into the water and come up with a small minnow. Nice picnic spot on the far side of the pond to enjoy a snack or so, and on the back side of the picnic area is an excellent marsh that wood ducks frequently are in. Along the shore line many wetland and pond flowers are present.
Causeway Street is unique. This is one of my favorite spots to view wildlife. From the old stone bridge, that the Black Fly Brook flows under, to the Medway end near Mr. Meehan’s house. Here we have a pristine wetland marsh that harbors waterfowl. Otters, muskrats and occasionally beavers can be seen here. In the ponds on the side of the road, turtles, frogs, waterfowl and other birds can be observed. Many fascinating water plants are seen here. What makes this place special is that the terrain allows you to view these animals from the roadside and they do not frequently run or hide from you. This gives you the chance to watch their behavior as they go about feeding and such.
Millis is one lucky town. We have over half of our border defined by the Charles River. This gives us numerous sites and possibilities to view wildlife. A canoe float trip, either up or down stream, from one of the excellent launch sites gives you the opportunity to experience terrain varying from wooded embankments to vast open marshes. These trips can be anywhere from a few hours to an all day excursion. Numerous birds, animals and aquatic plants can be observed.
Power Lines off of Myrtle and Dean Streets
Here are two places in town that most people would overlook as an area or opportunity to view wildlife. Walking the dirt service road at dusk or early in the morning, I have seen rabbits, deer, foxes, hawks, owls and other birds of prey. Most of the raptors are in the trees that line the edge of the cut path of the power lines. They will sit there, watching the low cut vegetation for rodents and small song birds. On the Myrtle Street side of the power lines, about ¼ mile from the access point on the right, heading toward Medway, is a medium sized marsh that has a family of beavers living there. The dam they have made can, at times, flood the dirt road. Just walk to the left and cross the stream on the far left edge of the power line path and then you can continue on to the spot where the dirt road nears the river.
The Many Wetlands in Town
Millis notably has many wetland areas. There are 2 areas that give easy access and great viewing opportunities. Along Rte 109 at the Medfield line, you can stand on the bridge and scan the tree line looking for hawks. Many times I have seen three or more of them. Good binoculars or a spotting scope makes this a little easier, but just to see them can make your day.
In the small marsh on your left coming down the hill, many ducks can be observed here. This area is a prime spot for viewing mother ducks with their young broods going about their business of feeding, in the late spring.
The second area is off of Rte 109 near the car wash and bowling alley. On your right hand side, heading toward Medway, look into the marsh near the top of the hill. Located on your left in the old dead pine trees is a Great Blue Heron rookery. There are four active nests at this site. This is a unique viewing opportunity, as for the most part these birds usually locate their nests deep in a swamp or marsh that makes viewing difficult. Here we are lucky enough to have them so close to the road, with nothing to block our view.
Your Own Backyard
For a small investment, you can bring the wonders of nature right into your own backyard. A couple of well placed feeders can bring you countless hours of enjoyment, watching birds as they feed. There is nothing better than enjoying your morning cup of coffee, watching the birds as they fly around and visit your feeders. This also gives you the opportunity to view these birds close up, as they are relaxed, unaware of your presence.
I have eight feeders in my yard, five of which are mounted on my deck near the kitchen’s sliding glass door, for ease of viewing.
Of the five on the deck, there are two tube-style feeders for thistle seed, which attract the Goldfinch. Two are seed feeders, 1 lantern type feeder that has sunflower seed in it to attract Cardinals, Grosbeaks, Blue Jays, Nut Hatches and titmice. The other is a larger hopper style feeder. This will attract the same birds, but gives a larger feeding area so more birds can use it at the same time. The seed that gets spilled from these feeders is used by Junco’s and Mourning Doves, both ground feeder type birds.
Then I have two suet feeding stations. These will attract the Downey, the Hairy and the Red Bellied woodpeckers that are common to our area. At the back of my yard I have two other feeders. One is a corn-on-the-cob feeder, and the other is a suet feeder. Both of these are placed to keep the squirrels happy and to keep them of my deck. Most of the time it works.
Conservation Commission Property
The Pleasant Meadows Farm, formerly known as the VerDerber Farm, is located at # 72 Pleasant street. This is owned by the town of Millis and is managed by the Conservation Commission. It is comprised of a diverse mixture of wooded uplands, open grassy meadows and wetlands. The total area is 37 acres. Improved trails make this an easy walking area to enjoy.
In the wooded uplands, there is a large stand of mature white pine trees and hardwoods. These trees are used by many species of Hawks and Owls. The owls are hard to spot, but can be heard hooting in the evening or early morning hours. The Hawks usually can be seen in the trees overlooking the fields where they hunt for small animals or birds. This is a prime area for viewing woodpeckers, Chickadees and flickers. Other animals seen on this property are chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits, woodchucks and deer.
The open meadows and grasslands are prime areas for spotting many different species of birds. Some of which are American Robins, American Goldfinches, Tree Swallows, sparrows and many others. The marshy wetland areas are used by Red Wing Blackbirds, Tufted Titmice, Blue Jays, Cardinals, Gross Beaks and Cedar Waxwings.
The woods and fields offer many different plants and flowers to be enjoyed throughout the year. The many butterflies, dragonflies and other insects of interest can make for great photographic opportunities. In the old dead tree located near the field edge as you drive in on your right, is a flicker nest hole. This nest has been in use for 6 years now and every year we have a family of flickers raised in it.
The Bluebird Trail you will follow consists of 8 nesting boxes placed around the fields. These locations where chosen to maximize the use of these boxes by bluebirds. The boxes were erected in a cooperative effort by the Millis Conservation Commission, the Boy Scouts and the Backyard Birdwatcher’s Store. The goal was to re-establish the bluebird on this property; we have succeeded. Enjoy your visit.
These are not the only places or areas to view wildlife in our town. The many private holdings should also be considered, after securing permission to enter these lands. Most landowners will be happy to grant you permission to walk their property, if you ask them. Just remember to respect their rights, don’t litter and always leave the place as you found it. Following these rules will, make future trips to these places possible.
Mr. George W. Trumbour III
Millis Conservation Commission
25 February 2007(Rev. 8/6/13)