North Mountain Nature Park – Urban Oasis

Wildlife watching is one of the fastest growing forms of outdoor recreation in the United States.  It’s not uncommon for nature buffs to shell out big money, traveling to exotic destinations like Alaska, Costa Rica, and Africa, in search of everything from butterflies to lions.  While these trips are incredibly exciting and worthwhile, they are not easy to arrange, or afford!  Wouldn’t it be nice to find something a little closer to home?

Whether you are a veteran birdwatcher or just getting started, North Mountain Park (NMP) in Ashland offers great opportunities to see some local wildlife.  To the careful observer, an enormous variety of critters can be seen, often up close and personal.  In short, there is a lot more going on here than may meet the eye.

The staff and volunteers of the NMP Nature Center have created something very unique and important within the town’s boundaries.  Food, water, cover, and nesting sites are all critical for wildlife, and all are amply provided in this relatively small area.  It’s impressive how much thought and planning went into the design, especially in terms of the native food-producing flora here.  Everything from swallowtail butterflies to majestic blacktail deer can be found browsing the vegetation in NMP.  A variety of fruit and seed-producing plants provide life-sustaining energy for a dazzling array of birds, including cedar waxwings, grosbeaks, finches, and robins.

Early mornings and evenings are best for wildlife watching at North Mountain Park.  Be patient, move about quietly, and you will most likely be rewarded.  Read the interpretive signs that are strategically placed throughout the park.  These are very informative and will greatly enhance your visit.  Stop by the office and pick up a checklist of all the birds and animals others have observed in the park.  You’ll be surprised at just how long this list is!  Finally, if you happen to run into someone carrying a ridiculously large camera, make sure to say hello!