The site of the former home of Steve and Natalie Emmons and the current headquarters of the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust (KCT), Emmons Preserve offers 3+ miles of trails for birders to explore. First-time visitors will be well served by following the Roller Trail south from the headquarters to the Batson River bridge. Cross the metal bridge and walk a short distance to the Learning Trail loop (blue blazes). When you finish the loop, return to and cross the bridge. Be sure to check for Mallard, Wood Duck, and Belted Kingfisher. Return north to the parking area. The walk from start to finish is about a mile.
The forests, meadows and wetlands attract an assortment of breeding birds, including Ovenbird, Red-eyed Vireo, Yellow Warbler, Pileated Woodpecker, Great Crested Flycatcher, Wood Thrush, and Veery. Along the Learning Trail, listen for Winter Wren, Red-breasted Nuthatch, and Ruffed Grouse. Be alert for Red-shouldered and Broad-winged Hawks. In April ’14, I encountered a dozen Fox Sparrows feeding (and a few singing!) along the Batson River, and later that year, a pair of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers nested near the parking area. Check the small, somewhat hidden pond located behind the headquarters building. Scanning for frogs, you may also notice some birds fly catching or bathing. This June (’15) a Black-billed Cuckoo was photographed near the pond by a local birder.
In winter, the YCAS maintains sunflower seed feeders outside the headquarters building which attracts small passerines. Among the chickadees, goldfinches, and nuthatches you may find Pine Siskins, Common Redpolls, or White-winged Crossbills.
Directions: Located at 57 Gravelly Brook Road, Kennebunkport. Take Rte. 9 (Mills Road) north about 1.7 miles from the village of Cape Porpoise in Kennebunkport. Turn left onto Beachwood Road and then turn right onto Stone Road. Take a left onto Gravelly Brook Road just after crossing the Batson River. Parking is located at the trust headquarters. Special events may limit parking, though there are a few more spots at two trailheads further along Gravelly Brook Road.
Visit the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust website to learn about the Emmons Preserve.