BENNINGTON, VT. >> Off Route 7 south of downtown Bennington, Vt., lies the Greenberg Preserve, where a short walk will cover meadow, woodland and wetlands.
"We were out with a very large group of children, and we saw signs of coyote, rabbit, and ruffed grouse," said Jen Loyd-Pain, director of the One World Conservation Center across the road from the preserve.
The OWCC, an educational nonprofit, teaches visitors about the plants and animals found in their backyards.
Jewett Brook runs through Greenberg Preserve and through the newly christened Walloomsac Headwaters Park and Natural Area, a wetland owned by the Town of Bennington which connects several other town and state-owned parcels good for kayaking, hiking and fishing.
"It's a great area to see migrating birds," said Loyd-Pain.
This summer OWCC will hold many bird-themed programs — bird walks, crafts, and exhibits. Red-winged blackbirds and the rarer rusty blackbird fly here, she said, and — a more common but no less wonderful sight — mallards nest here. Unlike ducks found in park ponds these are wild and shy.
"We've found sign of muskrat and otter," she said.
Beavers used to live on the preserve, but they've since moved on. They might come back, she said Loyd-Pain, and she would welcome them. Cattails and milkweed grow plentifully though.
"We have ash trees, and lots of cherry and birch as you get higher," she said.
A dairy farm once operated on the site, and remnants of it can be seen even today.
"It's a mix of the human and natural history in one small place," Loyd-Pain said.