Total Acres: 59
Year Conserved: 1972
The 59-acre Julia Bird Reservation parallels the railroad tracks and extends out to the to the banks of the Ipswich River. Adjacent to Appleton Farm, it is part of an extensive network of protected open space along the Ipswich River throughout Ipswich, Hamilton, Wenham and Topsfield. In recent years, this connected “greenbelt” has been the site of the New England Sled Dog Race Series in January.
In the early spring you’ll find Vernal Pools formed in the woods., creating the perfect breeding conditions for salamanders. You’ll also see Eastern Bluebirds in the hayfield at the back of the property and Barn Swallows working the front field for insects. In the summer breeding season, the mature forest canopy is alive with a variety of birds, including Northern Flickers, and Black-and-White Warblers. In the fall, you’ll see green darner dragonflies staged for migration. Winter offers a great opportunity to cross-county ski or snow-shoe. Look for fisher and otter tracks at the river’s edge and Great Horned Owls in the pines.
Vernal pools, also called vernal ponds are temporary pools of water, which tend to reach their greatest depth in spring, due to snow melt. They are usually devoid of fish, and therefore allow the safe development of newly hatched amphibians, like tadpoles, toads and salamanders.
For more information about vernal pools, consult the Cape Ann Vernal Pond Team at www.capeannvernalpond.org.
This Reservation is a good illustration of the effects of different kinds of forest and open field management upon the landscape. The forest in the front area is organically rich bottomland that supports mature swamp white oak, red oak and red maple, including some trees with a diameter of nearly four feet. This area has not been harvested, and supports breeding birds that prefer a mature forest canopy. A number of standing dead snags also provide habitat for woodpeckers.
As you walk further into the property, you will enter an open forest area that has been managed for timber. In 1982, Greenbelt conducted an experimental cordwood cut here, a test to evaluate the feasibility of forest management that does not infringe on other forest uses. Since the cut, we've noticed an increase in the deer population. There is also a contrast in the management of the two fields on this property. The front field has been bulldozed flat and is intensively mowed and fertilized for polo use. The back field shows unaltered topography of a naturally flat glacial outwash plain, and is only mowed once a year.
Glacial outwash plain or sandur is formed of sediments deposited by meltwater at the terminus of a glacier.
The Julia Bird Reservation is located along the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway, part of the congressionally designated Essex National Heritage Area. The Area’s extensive historic, cultural and natural resources tell the story of the region’s role in the nation’s early settlement, maritime trade and industrialization.
Just beyond the railway bridge, turn right into a small turnoff. Parking is limited to 2 cars.
Parking GPS Location
From Route 128/Exit 20/Route 1A North
Go north on Route 1A. In 7.0 miles, turn left onto Waldingfield Road. Trailhead and parking are 0.3 miles ahead on the right, just after the railroad bridge. Space for 2-3 cars.
From intersection of Route 133 and Route 1A in Ipswich
Go south/east on Route 133/1A. In 4.0 miles, bear right to continue on Route 1A south. In 0.9 miles after Route 133 and Route 1A split, turn right onto Waldingfield Road. Trailhead and parking are 0.3 miles ahead on the right, just after the railroad bridge. Space for 2-3 cars.