Spending the first hours of the new decade among the birds, foxes, and trees, dozens of nature lovers joined the Quinnipiac Valley Audubon Society on its First Day Hike at the Riverbound Farm Sanctuary last Wednesday.
Liz and Mark Scott, of Bethany, said that, last year, they also marked the start of the new year with a hike. Originally, they had planned to go on a walk along the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail, which was what they did last year, but decided instead to try something new.
“We’re both glad we came here,” Liz Scott said. As a gardener, she was excited to see how many native plants inhabit the gardens and is already planning to return in the warmer weather with friends to do some painting.
The sanctuary, located at 1881 Cheshire St., is a hidden gem, said Eric Eichhorn, a Society member who has helped manage the property since 1996. The hike was organized in collaboration with the Cheshire Land Trust, which has held a hike every New Year’s Day for approximately 10 years.
Counting around 40 participants, Eichhorn said he was amazed by the turnout. Sunny skies and temperatures hovering close to 40 degrees made for comfortable winter hiking and the lack of foliage made it easy to spot the birds pointed out by Society members.
Tucked away along the Southington border, the sanctuary tends to be overshadowed by the Canal Trail and Ives Farm, Eichhorn said, but the sanctuary packs a great deal into its 23.4 acres. The 0.9-mile loop the hikers followed allowed them to view the pollinator and butterfly gardens, a bird-viewing blind and the exterior of the nature center — a building once home to the family that owned the farm.
Loretta Victor, the Society’s president, said that the sanctuary is so peaceful, it’s almost like an oasis.
“We have something for everyone, even if you just want to sit on a bench and watch the birds,” she said.