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The Importance of Mary's Creek

By Tom Richardson

Many people know Warwick, Rhode Island, solely as the home of TF Green Airport, which serves as a convenient hub for air travelers in southern New England. However, just a few minutes from the tarmac and terminals you can find yourself in a very different world—a world of natural beauty and wild things.

Expect to see plenty of egrets in Mary's Creek through the warm months.

As an avid birder and a member of Warwick’s Wildlife & Conservation Commission, Kate Fitzpatrick knows all about Warwick’s surprising diversity of natural spaces. To show me some of them, Kate met me at the mouth of Mary’s Creek, in the northwest corner of Greenwich Bay, for a short birding expedition at low tide in 2023.

Semipalmated plovers feed on the mud flats of Mary's Creek at low tide.

This small tidal creek provides important habitat for a variety of wading birds, shorebirds, and shellfish, as well as a protected nursery for juvenile marine fish. As a wetland, it also serves to filter pollutants from the surrounding watershed, and provides a natural buffer from storms.

The surrounding marsh of Mary's Creek serves as a rookery for egret and heron.

Birders looking to see or photograph a variety of wading birds, shorebirds, and waterfowl will find themselves in paradise. On our outing, Kate and I spied great blue herons, great egrets, mallard ducks, semipalmated plovers, osprey, and more. At low tide, the mudflats come alive with fiddler crabs, while you are likely to see blue crabs, green crabs, and horseshoe crabs in the water. Mary’s Creek also plays an important role as a shellfish nursery, especially for quahogs (hardshelled clams) and horse mussels.

It’s a magical and serene place—at least until the first plane or commuter train roars by!

Mary's Creek is important to the ecological health of Greenwich Bay.
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