Naugatuck River wildlife star in movie

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‘The Hidden World,’ a movie about the Naugatuck River's wildlife produced by the Naugatuck River Revival Group was shown Saturday at the Whittemore Library in Naugatuck. The movie will be shown again at the library from 6:30 to 8 p.m. April 3. –RA ARCHIVE

NAUGATUCK — An osprey diving into the Naugatuck River at 80 mph to swoop up some wriggling prey pulled gasps of wonder from residents watching a new film created by a local river group.

About 40 people came to the Howard Whittemore Library on Saturday morning to see “The Hidden World,” a movie about the river’s wildlife by the Naugatuck River Revival Group. It will be shown again at the library from 6:30 to 8 p.m. April 3.

Mostly captured from last summer, the movie shows multiple shots of animals, reptiles, and even insects in action as they inhabit the world of the Naugatuck River. It has shots at several different points along the river including from Seymour at Tingue Dam to Watertown at Steele Brook.

Kevin Zak, the river group president, led the movie presentation downstairs at the library. He provided some commentary and identification of the wildlife. The movie has credits at the end, but has no narration. It is set to music of flutes and other fitting tunes.

Residents will witness animal behavior in the movie that he had never witnessed before until he captured it on film, he said. Other scenes took years for him to record such as a male belted kingfisher catching a crawfish with its beak, Zak said.

The film lasts 60 minutes and features an array of wildlife from a large snapping turtle sunning on a large rock to a flock of female common mergansers in a synchronized feeding of rather large fish.

It also includes scenes of volunteers not only from the river group but also We Are Change Connecticut, removing shopping carts, old tires, and more debris dumped into the waterway.

Members of the river group have worked for years to keep the Naugatuck River clean and recreationally accessible, focusing efforts not only from the Platts Mill section of the river between Naugatuck and Waterbury but other areas on the river as well.

Zak performed most of the filming, while Sondra Harman, the group’s secretary, helped with editing. She said he filmed from a hunting blind, or a tent that is camouflaged so animals can’t see him.

“We want to bring the river to the community,” Harman said. “We want to show people that the river is beautiful.”

Naugatuck resident Helen Walker attended the screening with her son, Edward Walker, also of Naugatuck. She said it was interesting and especially liked the shots of the beavers.

“It was the most beautiful nature film I have ever seen,” her son said.

Edward Walker said it was done sensitively. He said he also enjoyed that it doesn’t have any narration and liked the flute music.

Zak said this is just the start, and the river group, which became a nonprofit in December, will continue taking film of the river for years to come.

Zak is trying to raise around $11,000 to buy better video equipment. Anyone who wants to donate can contact the group on Facebook or e-mail at NRRG_sh@yahoo.com.