At 8.5 miles
in length, Plum Island is reached from Newbury and
Newburyport by way of the Plum Island "Turnpike", a picturesque, two
lane road traversing marsh lands and water ways.
Newburyport at the mouth of the Merrimack River as far south as Rowley and Ipswich,
this wonderful barrier island is known for its spectacular beaches, dunes, and
ever-changing tidal marshes.
Formerly a summer
colony, the northern end of the Island is now primarily a year-round community
with an eclectic assortment of houses ranging from simple cottages to sophisticated
It is, however,
as a bird-watchers paradise that Plum Island has gained its fame, both nationally
and internationally. Mass Audubon has recently purchased 3 acres of land along
the Plum Island Turnpike to develop as an elaborate visitors center and gateway
to the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge and the Sandy Point State Reservation
at the southern-most tip of the Island.
4,662 acres, The Parker River National Wildlife Refuge on
Plum Island is one of the few natural barrier, beach-dune, fresh and salt
marsh complexes left on the northeast coast. Established as a management
area for migrating waterfowl, it is part of the National Atlantic Flyway
and a prime spot for observing birds of all kinds.
refuge offers protection to endangered or threatened species
and their associated habitats. It is also an area where wildlife
enthusiasts can find recreation and learn about the environment.
which are commonly viewed here include mallards, gadwalls
and black duck. Shore birds, like egrets and heron, can be
found nesting in the spring and early summer.
Sometimes birds rarely seen in the United States come to
the island. The refuge draws people from all over the country
because of the unusual varieties which land here. Over 300
species of birds have been spotted in the refuge at various
times of the year.