Begin your coastal birding foray at Audubon Greenwich, a spectacular facility comprising 12 sanctuaries totaling 686 acres and more than 20 miles of hiking trails. Over the years, some 201 species of birds have been spotted here, and it’s on the list of Important Bird Areas, an international effort to identify and protect key bird habitats.
Winging It: Birding Along the Shore
Birders are especially active and well organized in Connecticut, and you can join their ranks even if it’s just for a day or two. You can get an overview on the bird population and birding events by visiting the Connecticut Ornithological Association, and here’s a coastal birding tour that is sure to please.
Once you are ready to leave behind the offerings of Greenwich (birders proceed at their own pace), find a place to overnight in the Milford/Stratford area and get out to The Coastal Center at Milford Point for some excellent winter shoreline birding. Some 315 species have been spotted from this 8.4-acre barrier beach, which is situated next to the 840-acre Charles Wheeler Salt Marsh and Wildlife Management Area.
Most visitors to Hammonasset Beach State Park are interested in its two-mile stretch of beach, but birders know there’s a lot more to do and see there – like 600 acres of brackish tidal marsh and over 100 acres of young forest upland. According to the Audubon Society, Hammonasset is an important migratory stopover point for landbirds, shorebirds and raptors.
Now it’s time to continue east up the shore to the Barn Island Wildlife Management Area in Stonington. The 1,013-acre shoreline tract is Connecticut’s single largest coastal property managed for wildlife conservation. A 5.3-mile loop trail takes birders through fields and hardwood forests to saltmarsh observation decks. Barn Island is also on the global list of Important Bird Areas in Connecticut.