The state’s coastal shoreline, forests, and privately-owned conservation areas have long been a magnet for bird-watching in Connecticut.
Whether you’re looking to spot a year-round raptor resident or a migratory bird you’ll find something for everybody in this collection of bird-watching destinations in the Nutmeg State.
White Memorial Foundation and Conservation Center – Litchfield:
In 1913 Alain White and his sister, May, created the White Memorial Foundation in the hills of northwestern Connecticut, and with Bantam Lake as its centerpiece. Today you’ll discover 35 miles of trails winding through open water and wetlands. Popular walks for bird-watchers are Lake Trail, the Little Pond Boardwalk Trail and the Butternut Trail.
The foundation is especially proud of attracting cavity nesting species such as bluebirds, wood duck, hooded mergansers and tree swallows. Other species you’ll see are Canada geese, grebes, terns, and red-winged blackbirds. The White Memorial Foundation and Conservation Center is 3 miles west of Litchfield town on U.S. 202.
Sharon Audubon Center – Sharon:
The Sharon Audubon Center is located 3-miles west of Cornwall Bridge in the northwestern part of Connecticut. A scenic and beautiful region the center includes 1,147 acres of forests and woods, meadows, wetlands, ponds, and streams.
Eleven miles of hiking trails through this diverse wildlife sanctuary affords ample opportunity to view hundreds of bird species either passing through to breeding grounds or residents going about their daily living. Popular trails for bird-watching include the Hendrickson Bog Meadow Trail and the Woodchuck Trail. Be on the lookout with your binoculars for wood thrush, ovenbird, eastern bluebird, scarlet tanager, chimney swift, barred owl, red-tailed hawk, American goldfinch, great blue heron, song sparrow, turkey vulture, and osprey.
Milford Point – Milford:
At Milford Point along Long Island Sound you’ll find what is considered one of the best birding locations in Connecticut. Of the 402 bird species known to visit the state over 300 have been recorded here or nearby.
Managed by the Connecticut Audubon Society for the state, Milford Point includes an 8-acre barrier beach known as the Smith-Hubbell Wildlife Refuge and Bird Sanctuary, and which includes the coastal center to visit and understand all about the importance of the surrounding tidal salt marshes and dunes.
Milford Point and the coastal center and sanctuary can be reached from Exit 34 on I-95. Turn right at end of ramp and proceed to take left onto Naugatuck Ave after ½ mile and right after 0.8 mile onto Milford Point Road and then follow the signs to Seaview Ave and the entrance and parking area.
Rocky Neck State Park – East Lyme:
Best known for its beach this park boasts a lot more though to the wildlife enthusiast in the trails that lead away from the elbow-to-elbow summer crowds and out into the tidal wetlands.
After parking in the main beach area look for the red blazes of the Bride Brook Trail in the northeast corner of the lot and follow the trail out into the wetlands and along the brook. They’ll be opportunities to spot snowy egrets, great blue herons, belted kingfishers, red-tailed hawks, and ospreys among many other species.
To get to Rocky Neck State Park take Exit 72 off I-95: Follow the turnpike connector south to Route 156. Turn left and take Route 156 east for 1/4 mile to the park.
Bluff Point State Park and Coastal Reserve – Groton:
Bluff Point was designated as a coastal reserve in 1975 and at over 800 acres is one of the largest remaining pieces of undeveloped land along the Connecticut coastline. Bluff Point East Loop Trail is longer than the main loop and takes you out to the tidal flats along the cove and out to Mumford and Bluff Point before heading out to Bushy Point Beach and then along the banks of the Pequonnock River and back to the lot.
Along the way expect to spot buffleheads, mute swans, snowy egrets, great blue herons, mallard, songbirds, osprey, bluebirds, mockingbirds and wood ducks, all making use of this diverse and protected habitat.
Located in Groton in Mystic County to get to the reserve take Exit 88 on I-95 and turn right onto Route 1 and take left at light onto Depot Road and travel to the end for parking. This is a busy park at weekends.
For more details on these and other attractions to see during Connecticut Vacations and to pick up your free New England trip planner package go to Cliff’s New England Vacation Guide at: http://www.new-england-vacations-guide.com