Listing of some of the great CT birding spots. Connecticut has more than its share of great birders , but the one area of the state that receives less attention than it deserves is the northeast quarter. I'll define this area as anywhere east of the Connecticut River and North of Willimantic (Windham), although, of course, I may stretch the boundaries at any time. 2013 - I'm traveling more - to the SW so far, and I'll add some info about my adventures there.

Monday, July 21, 2008

CT Audubon Soc. Bafflin Sanctuary and Wyndham Land Trust - Pomfret

The Pomfret CAS and associated lands of the Wyndham Land Trust provide a largely contiguous parcel of land of roughly 1400 acres. This sanctuary is devoted primarily to habitat for birds and other wildlife, and is managed as such. Both organization's lands are managed by the CAS property manager. The area offers a wide variety of habitat, from farmed lands (by lease) to old fields to areas of woodlands. There are streams and small ponds associated with the properties. There is a large marsh area that provides a spring stopover for ducks and waterfowl, as well as 2 blinds for birders, although it is presently awaiting a new family of beavers to rebuild the dam. In spring and fall there are bird walks scheduled every Tuesday and several scheduled on the weekends as well. In addition to the sanctuary properties, the entire area is rural, devoted mainly to farming, with large forested areas and considerable state land. The sanctuary has proved to be a birding hotspot for spring migration, with several sightings of rare or unusual birds.
I cannot begin to tick off all the potential birding locations for Pomfret CAS. The Center is open M-F 9 am to 4 pm and Sat and Sun noon to 4, and the best bet is a stop in to pick up a map and perhaps talk to Andy or the director on some good current birding bets.
LINK :  Connecticut Audubon Society
A particularly good bet is at the intersection of Needles Eye and Day roads. Needles Eye Road is a right off US Rt 44 about half a mile past (north of) the CAS Center. Just before Day Road there is an old stone railroad bridge abutment, and good road parking just beyond it. There is a rail trail that runs south from the abutment that often provides good birding, and just past the parking area, on the left, there are open fields and trails that almost always have something interesting lurking in them, from Bobolinks to Warblers to Woodcock.

"Station 43", South Windsor

Station 43 is a Federal Wildlife Management Area and an IBA (Important Bird Area). It's a great spot to look for waterfowl and marsh birds, including some rarities which pass through during migration. The WMA itself is basically a marshy pond. the land around it is private and mostly used as farmland. The entire area is on the floodplain on the eastern side of the Connecticut River in South Windsor, and occasionally floods in the sping. To access Station 43 take any road north of I-291 in South Windsor west from US Rt 5. When you reach the end you should meet Main Street. (A misnomer). If you started from the south end of town go north until you find Newberry Road on the right. If you came from the north, its on the left, of course. If you are going south on Rt 5 you may turn right onto Newberry and take it to Main. The access to Sta. 43 is directly opposite the end of Newberry. You may park on the west side of Main. The access starts as a driveway and continues straight ahead as a rutted muddy dirt road. DO NOT try to drive it. Note: you will be greated with a variety of No Trespassing signs with dire warnings. If you leave the public ways in this area they may be correct. However the access road is a public right of way as are the two other roads I'll mention in a moment. As long as you stay on the roads you should not be bothered (and in practice people seldom are). Simply follow the access road to the pond and you're there. The area can be wet or even flooded so water resistant footware is a must. A scope is a big help at the pond. There are also partially paved roads north and south of the pond that provide good birding at times. If you go south on Main Street take the next right onto Vibert Road, pass the the sewage treatment plant, and you are there. The little bridge is an excellent spot to stop. Usually less is seen at the end of the road at the Ct River. If you take Main north, go to the end and look for Ferry Road on the left. There is a sod farm near the river that sometimes has sparrows and other migrants stopping over.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

NE Ct Birding Hotspots - Mansfield Hollow

Mansfield Hollow (State Park)
Without a doubt this is one of the most under-birded spots I know, even though there is some activity. At times it is probably the best spot in NECT. It's a large area, and of course includes the Mansfield Hollow Lake (flood control impoundment) Which is fed by 3 rivers, the Fenton River, the Mount Hope River, and the Natchaug River. Because of the reason it was created, the water level varies much more widely and quickly than any naturally created lake. After an exceptional rainstorm or period of rainy weather the water level may come up as much as 20 feet, and has come up considerably higher than that. The Lake was created by the Army Corps of Engineers, and they control the dam and all the land around the lake up to the maximum possible level of water. The water has never come anywhere near that level, but it has been pretty high. At times the water backs up for a considerable distance on the Fenton River, flooding the leased crop fields near its banks. The lake is a good spot to view several varieties of water related birds, ducks, shorebirds, raptors, marsh birds, etc.
I divide the the area generally into two sections, the Northwest and Southeast Lakes, since they are connected only by tubes through a causeway across the middle of the impoundment. Basset Bridge Road (off Ct Rt 195) crosses the causeway, and there is boat launch area where the road meets the lake. The boat launch is sometimes a good spot to view ducks (especially in spring) and raptors such as Ospreys and Bald Eagles. There were Three Eagles sitting in a dead tree opposite the launch at 1 time in spring '08. A scope is needed to see most birds well here.
The north end of the Northwest Lake is a hotspot for warblers and other migrants in the spring. There is an old road that runs along the normal waterline here, though it is sometimes partially submerged. To reach the area take Ct Rt 195 north from Willimantic or south from Mansfield and turn onto Rt 89. There is a parking turnout immediately past the high causeway that passes the lake, on the right. From there you can climb directly down to the old road. Another way to get there is from a turn-off on the right about half a mile further, JUST BEFORE Atwoodville Rd. It's unmarked but there is a stop sign where it turns onto Rt 89. Follow this old road to the yellow gate and park. Follow the road on foot til you come to the lake. A good place to see ducks and raptors as well as spring migrants.
The BEST spot for birding, particularly after migration is over, is an area called the Field Trial and Wildlife Management Area. It is on the southeast side of the Southeast Lake. To reach it take US Rt 6 north (east) from Willimantic until you see signs for Ct Rt 203 on the right at a traffic light. At that light take a LEFT and follow that (unnamed) road to the stop sign. Turn left over a bridge and turn left again onto N Windham Road, immediately past the bridge. Drive to the gate and park in the lot on the right. Follow the old road past the gate. Birding can be good anywhere along this road all the way to where it meets the lake. Some of the best habitat is in the fields on the left and the pine stands which end at the bank over the Natchaug river. Most any of the birds that summer in Ct can be found in this area.
One other area related to Mansfield Hollow is the dike between the lake and Windham Airport. Take US Rt 6 north (east) from Willimantic until your see the Airport on the left. At the north end, the high dike is prominently visible and there is a parking lot off Rt 6. Birds such as Meadowlarks can sometimes be seen from the dike in the airport grass. At least four kinds of swallows swoop back and forth over the area and many water and marsh birds can be seen to the north in and around the lake. When the water is low enough many shorebirds can be seen on any exposed mud flats. A scope is needed from the dike.

About Me

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Old enough to know better (but I don't) and finally retired so I have the free time I've always wanted to pursue my interests - like Birding and Hiking!!