At the mouth of the Merrimack River, in Salisbury, large expanses of Salt Marsh border the river on its north side, opposite the tidal flats and downtown buildings of Newburyport. The productive beds of Spartina grass here are at the bottom of the estuarine food web. In one way or another, these marshes feed roosting and wintering Bald Eagles (Endangered, federally Threatened), Atlantic and Shortnose Sturgeon (both state Endangered; Shortnose is federally Endangered) heading upstream to breed, and Common, Least, Arctic, and occasionally Roseate Terns (all Special Concern except Roseates, which are both state and federally Endangered) diving for small fish in the tidal waters. Two rare plants – Eastern Saline Sedge (Endangered) and American Sea-blite (Special Concern) are found in the Salt Marsh itself.
Species of Note: Waterfowl (long-tailed ducks, scaup, wigeon, goldeneye) and raptors (bald eagle, northern harrier, short-eared owl) in winter, saltmarsh sharp-tailed sparrow in summer, shorebirds in spring and fall migration. Habitats: Small wooded upland section leads to the salt marsh and Morrill Creek along the Merrimack River estuary. Size: 427 acres Special Recognition: Within Great Marsh Important Bird Area; Western Hemispheric Shore Bird Reserve Network Regional Site