Salt Bay Farm is one of more than thirty preserves owned by Coastal Rivers Conservation Trust. An 18th century farmhouse sits atop 115 acres of former farmland overlooking the river. A restored marsh has succeeded in luring American Black Ducks, Wood Ducks, and Hooded Mergansers as breeders, and numerous other species in migration. Great Blue Herons, Green Herons, and American Bitterns are typically observable. Secretive Virginia Rails announce their presence at dawn and dusk, while chattering Marsh Wrens may be heard at any time through early summer.
A mowed path around the marsh facilitates viewing from all angles. Bobolinks and Savannah Sparrows are common through the fields. Pine Warblers are audible from the tall pines that border the right side of the field. Yellow and Chestnut-sided Warblers and Common Yellowthroats are regular in the brushy growth along the left side. Ospreys and Bald Eagles are common sights over the nearby river.
There are three other Coastal Rivers-affiliated preserves nearby. The Whaleback Shell Midden State Historic Site, owned by the Bureau of Parks and Lands, contains the remnants of prehistoric piles of oyster shells and artifacts left by Native Americans several thousand years ago, and affords a clear view of the Glidden Midden, one of the larger extant oyster shell heaps on the east coast. As sea levels rose, the oysters disappeared around a thousand years ago, but the rubbish piles remained until the turn of the last century, when the majority of the shells of Whaleback Midden were processed into a chicken feed additive. Glidden Midden on the other hand remains, still some 30 feet deep in places.
The Salt Bay Preserve Heritage Trail lies at the south end of Great Salt Bay and offers a pleasant 3-mile footpath. Most of the path offers open views of diving ducks, Ospreys and Bald Eagles, but the first half mile crosses a small salt marsh where shorebirds, dabblers, and Horseshoe Crabs may be hiding. The Damariscotta Mills Alewife Fish Ladder can be spectacular when the alewives are running in May and June. Ospreys and Bald Eagles often congregate around the ladder, gorging themselves on the jumping fish. The ladder ascends 42 feet to Damariscotta Lake and is a remarkable curiosity even when the fish aren’t running. For more information and directions to these three sites, visit coastalrivers.org.
Directions: Salt Bay Farm is located on Belvedere Road off Route 1 (the blinking yellow light about 1 mile north of the Damariscotta Exit).
110 Belvedere Road