Block Island is unique among the major islands off southern New England in that 47% of the land is preserved open space. Numerous well-marked trails lead through a variety of coastal and upland habitat—including scrub-oak forest, ponds, beaches, and meadows laced by the island’s signature stone walls—providing the visitor with glimpses of many bird species and other critters.
To learn more about the island’s natural history, I met up with Kim Gaffett of the Nature Conservancy, who led me on a short walk through the Fresh Pond Preserve, which is part of the larger Block Island Greenway trail system.
Fresh Pond is the largest of the 365 freshwater ponds on the island, and was formed, like the island itself, when the last ice-age glaciers retreated some 12,000 years ago. Today, the pond is home to fish, turtles, frogs and other amphibians, as well as a variety of waterfowl and shorebirds. The pond is surrounded by trees and scrub that provide home for warblers, blackbirds, and sparrows, while the fields beyond contain nesting boxes for swallows and bluebirds.
Learn more about Fresh Pond and Block Island ecology by watching the short video above.