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Grass Island, Greenwich
 Grass Island
 Grass Island Natural Area
 Greenwich Harbor
* * *
Seasonal rating: Sp ** Su * F *** W ***
Best time to bird: Late October to April.
Habitats: Harbor, mudflats, marinas, open lawn, thickets, and second-growth forest.
Bird list for this site: https://qr-creator.com/r/BDN1F9
Resident – Mute Swan, American Black Duck, Killdeer, Fish Crow
Summer – Great and Snowy Egrets, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Laughing Gull, Ruby-throated Hummingbird (nest?), Warbling Vireo, Orchard Oriole (some years)
Winter – Canvasback and Redhead (both uncommon), Lesser Scaup,Ruddy Duck, American Coot, Bonaparte's Gull
OTHER KEY BIRDS
Resident – Ring-billed, Herring, and Great Black-backed Gulls; Double-crested Cormorant, Northern Flicker, Cedar Waxwing
Summer – Osprey; Northern Rough-winged, Tree, and Barn Swallows;House and Carolina Wrens, Yellow Warbler, Common Yellowthroat,Baltimore Oriole, American Goldfinch
Winter – Gadwall, Greater Scaup, Long-tailed Duck, Bufflehead; Hooded,Common, and Red-breasted Mergansers; Red-throated and Common Loons, Horned and Pied-billed Grebes
Red-necked Grebe (uncommon), Great Blue Heron, Little Gull (occasional)
* * *
Location: Grass Island Road, Greenwich.
Restrooms: Portable toilets in the first parking lot; bathrooms in the building by the point.
Grass Island is not an island at all but a small peninsula jutting into the west side of Greenwich Harbor, nearly in downtown Greenwich. The Grass Island Natural Area is located on the north and west sides of the peninsula. The harbor lies to the east, there are marinas on the southern tip, and a deep cove lies on the southwest side. There is a wastewater treatment plant in the center of the peninsula.
The main draw of Grass Island is the view of Greenwich Harbor, which local birders have long recognized as a reliable place for finding a few Canvasback and Redhead among the Greater and, especially, Lesser Scaup wintering here. They are joined seasonally by all three merganser species; Gadwall, Long-tailed, and Ruddy Ducks; and other estuary-loving ducks. Rarities found here have included Tufted Duck and Pink-footed Goose. American Coot, Pied-billed and Horned Grebes, and the occasional Red-necked Grebe, both loon species, and Double-crested and Great Cormorants (uncommon) also frequent the area in winter. Belted Kingfishers hunt from the piers fall through spring. The harbor attracts gulls; Bonaparte's Gulls are seen from winter into spring, and Little Gulls (rare) have been found with them. Both Laughing Gull and Common Tern are seen here in summer. Occasionally the lawns edging the harbor attract Horned Lark or Snow Bunting in winter.
The Grass Island Natural Area is generally worth a visit during spring and fall migration. Although species diversity is limited, many of the more common migrant warblers filter through in small numbers. Usually, both kinglet species, a few vireos, thrushes, and occasionally a Brown Creeper can be found. Breeders include common urban nesting species, along with Cedar Waxwing, Warbling Vireo, House and Carolina Wrens, Yellow Warbler, and Baltimore Oriole. Ruby-throated Hummingbird occurs in summer and may breed. Killdeer is resident, and a few usually winter along the harbor and field edges.
How to Bird this Site
A spotting scope is highly recommended. As you enter Grass Island Road, the first parking lot on the right is for the Grass Island Natural Area. In winter, stop here, or at the second lot on the right; both lots overlook the upper harbor and the docks across the street. Be sure to check the far shore to the north, where waterfowl often gather. After scoping the upper harbor, continue south along Grass Island Road past the entry booth and treatment plant. The road veers right and circles counterclockwise around the marina, past the point, where there is roadside parking. At the first bend, the yacht club parking area is on the right. Although the yacht club and its docks are private, there are a few public parking spots on the lot's north side, providing access to the south end of the natural area. An old road, now a hiking path, skirts the natural area's western edge, allowing views of the cove and edge thickets, and is often productive for landbirds in winter. Once at the point, walk south across the lawn to scope the docks on the left and the cove on the right. Pay careful attention to the edges. Ducks tuck up along the shore to rest during the day.
If time permits, return to the yacht club lot or the first parking lot, then walk the trails at the natural area for landbirds, especially sparrows and lingering fruit-eaters, fall through spring. At the first lot, stairs lead up to a white-pine-covered knoll beside the dog park. The best area to explore includes the fields and thickets down the hill beyond the dog park. In fall, American Tree, Fox, Swamp, White-crowned, Lincoln's, and Savannah Sparrows can sometimes be found with the overwintering White-throated and Song Sparrows. With luck, a Winter Wren, Hermit Thrush, Eastern Towhee, or lingering Gray Catbird may turn up in the thickets, and perhaps a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in the woods. Yellow-breasted Chat and Brown Thrasher have occurred in fall and may linger into winter. Also, watch for migrating Red-headed Woodpeckers (rare) in October. Mixed-species blackbird flocks also frequent the area in winter.CHAPTER 2
Tod's Point (Greenwich Point), Greenwich
* * *
Seasonal rating: Sp *** Su ** F *** W ****
Best time to bird: September to May.
Habitats: Long Island Sound, coves, mudflats, small marsh, rocky and sandy shores, open lawns, thickets, second-growth forest, and nearshore islands.
Bird list for this site: https://qr-creator.com/r/y38mF6
Resident – Mute Swan, Killdeer, Great Horned Owl, Northern Flicker, Fish Crow, Cedar Waxwing (most years)
Summer – Great and Snowy Egrets, Black-crowned Night-Heron, American Oystercatcher, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Willow Flycatcher, Brown Thrasher, Purple Martin, Cedar Waxwing, Warbling Vireo, Orchard Oriole (some years)
Winter – Greater and Lesser Scaup (uncommon), Long-tailed Duck, Ruddy Duck (uncommon), Black-bellied Plover, Ruddy Turnstone; Bonaparte's, Iceland, and Lesser Black-backed Gulls; Razorbill (almost annual), Horned Lark, Hermit Thrush, Snow Bunting, American Pipit
OTHER KEY BIRDS
Resident – Double-crested Cormorant, Carolina Wren
Summer – House Wren, Yellow Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Baltimore Oriole
Winter – Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Hooded and Red-breasted Mergansers, Red-throated and Common Loons, Horned Grebe, American Robin
Red-necked Grebe (annual), Little Gull (occasional)
* * *
Location: Tod's Driftway, at the end of Shore Road, Greenwich.
Parking: Nonresidents must pay an entry fee from May 1 to December 1.
Restrooms: Main concession building (open year-round); summer seasonal bathrooms at clambake field.
Additional information: Free bird walks, organized by the Bruce Museum, meet at 9:00 a.m. at the second concession stand on the first Sunday of the month, and the first three Sundays in May and October.
Tod's Point, also known as Greenwich Point, is a premier southern Fairfield County birding locale and one of only a few sites statewide with a bird list of more than 300 species. The park rests on a large curved peninsula that forms the eastern and southern borders of Greenwich Cove to the northwest and overlooks Long Island Sound to the south. Greenwich Cove is interspersed with small islands. The park is relatively flat with a few small wooded knolls, a holly grove, and open lawns, along with a small marsh and two ponds. Although nonresidents must pay an exorbitant entry fee from May 1 to December 1, it is worth a visit at any time of year. Fortunately, the birding is still good from late fall through early spring, when access is free.
In summer, breeding songbird numbers are rather lackluster, but Orchard Oriole and Brown Thrasher are found some years. Purple Martin and Northern Rough-winged, Barn, and Tree Swallows all breed locally. Osprey are common and Great and Snowy Egrets visit regularly. Common Terns breed in the area, and they and a few Least Terns can usually be found feeding in the cove or resting on the small islands at low tide. A few American Oystercatchers (may nest), and Spotted Sandpipers (nests) also feed in the area, resting on harbor islands at low tide. Keep an eye out for Black Skimmer, which occurs annually in small numbers. During migration, watch forPiping Plover (uncommon) on the sandy beaches and islands in the bay.
In fall, and especially spring, gulls gather offshore to feed on plankton blooms. Parasitic Jaeger (rare) is possible when these gull congregations occur. Good concentrations of waterfowl, loons, grebes, and gulls can be found from fall through spring, and overwintering fruit- and seed-eaters often linger near the holly grove, the adjacent thickets, and the feeding station. Mega-rarities found in the park have included Gray Kingbird and Burrowing Owl.
From mid to late April, the holly grove and other forested areas also can be good for early spring migrants, such as Yellow-throated Warbler (rare), with other migrant warblers appearing in May. Thirty-four species of warblers have been recorded in the park, so almost anything is possible. Notables include Yellow-breasted Chat, which is seen consistently but in small numbers, usually in September or winter.
The park hosts a decent sparrow migration in spring and, especially, fall. Good numbers of Savannah, Lincoln's, White-crowned, Swamp, and Field Sparrows occur regularly, among which such rarities as Henslow's and, more often, Grasshopper Sparrows have been discovered. Marsh Wren and Brown Thrasher occur during migration, with thrashers nesting in some years.
The ponds, cove, and nearshore waters attract a wide variety of ducks and geese from fall through spring, including Hooded Merganser (common) and Bufflehead. Also look for Long-tailed Duck, White-winged and Surf Scoters, Common Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser, particularly on the side nearer Long Island Sound, and both scaup species. Harlequin Duck has been seen on several occasions, usually in rocky areas, such as the point itself. Brant are ubiquitous and may linger well into summer. Both loon species, Great Cormorant, and Horned Grebe are fairly common here in winter; Red-necked Grebe is annual, and Eared Grebe has occurred. Watch for Northern Gannet, especially in April. Check the gull flocks that gather in spring for less common Iceland and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, especially at low tide. Bonaparte's Gulls are seen annually in small numbers, and the rare Little and Black-headed Gulls have occurred, usually in spring. Laughing Gulls are particularly common late summer into November, and a few often linger into winter. It is a good site to find Ruddy Turnstone and the occasional Purple Sandpiper in winter, on the bay edges, islands, and the rocky shores of the sound.
How to Bird This Site
Although the park is fairly large, it is easy to bird, with graded walking paths traversing much of it. The park is visited daily by local birders, and sightings are recorded in a bird log at the kiosk beside the holly grove.
Before entering the park, there is a pull-off just to the left of the entrance booth that gives views of an inlet to the northeast toward Stamford where Horned Grebe, Brant, and a variety of ducks often winter. Eared Grebe has been seen here. Scan from the pull-off or beach.
The park road, Tod's Driftway, goes in a counterclockwise loop from the entrance along the cove shore, past the holly grove, then around the park's western perimeter and pond, before returning through its center to the large main parking lot.
As you enter the park, stop at the first parking lot past the entrance booth on the right. After checking Greenwich Cove to the west, and Long Island Sound (across the street), for waterfowl, shorebirds, and seabirds, drive to the holly grove on the left, just before the stone columns. Peruse the birder's log and map kiosk in the parking lot.
The holly grove is always worth checking for fruit-eaters; in fall and winter, a feeding station for seed-eating species is maintained in a field on the southeast side. In winters when berries are present, the grove holds a few Hermit Thrushes among the many robins, Cedar Waxwings, and mockingbirds. The thickets have attracted some less common species including Yellow-breasted Chat, Brown Thrasher, and Gray Catbird in winter; oddities also seem to show up, including an Indigo Bunting (very rare in this season), which overwintered here. Behind the holly grove, the open lawns and thicket edges on the hill with the boulder (Founder's Rock) are usually great for sparrows in the fall.
Just past the holly grove, on the left at the one-way road intersection, is the dirt parking lot for the clambake area, which attracts Horned Lark and Savannah Sparrow in winter. Park here and walk south along the maintenance road, blocked by a chain, to the clambake area. There is an active Purple Martin colony here in summer, and this area can be good for sparrows in fall. Henslow's Sparrow was once found on the south side of the field along the edge of the walking path to the marsh. As you continue to drive along Tod's Driftway, stop and scan periodically. There is a parking lot on the right just before the yacht club, and places to pull off (only in winter) near the sailing school building that give good views of the bay and Sand Island. Check the beach and open sandy areas near the boats for wintering Horned Lark, Snow Bunting, or American Pipit. Across the street from the yacht club, there is a driveway that ascends to the Seaside Garden and the lawns near a building known as "the cow barn," overlooking a small pond. At dawn, this area can be good for migrant songbirds in spring and especially in fall.
Farther along the road, the small pond on the left often holds waterfowl all winter, especially Hooded Merganser. The road then makes a loop around the larger Eagle Pond which attractsBufflehead and other waterfowl. Take advantage of the parking lots and pull-offs all along the road to stop and scan Long Island Sound.
At the southeast end of Eagle Pond, park in the last lot on the right, just before the road turns 90 degrees to the left (and continues around the pond). This is Eagle Pond Lookout. A walking trail parallels the seashore, leading east past a marsh to Greenwich Point, known locally as "the bluff." The bluff gives the best views of Long Island Sound; in winter, watch offshore for Razorbill, and check the lawns for Snow Bunting, which seem to prefer this part of the park. The loop trail that goes around the marsh can be fruitful at any time of year. Clapper Rail occurs most years during migration, and King Rail (rare) also has been found here. In fall, the marsh is a good place to check for migrant Marsh Wren, Saltmarsh Sparrow, andNelson's Sparrow.
After exploring the marsh and adjacent thickets, continue driving along Tod's Driftway back through the stone pillars, then turn right to return to the main parking lot. During migration, a walk along the entrance road on the lot's east side can be productive for songbirds. Several trails lead from the parking lot to the beach. Another path on the south side of the concession building turns parallel to the beach, leading south to the bluff.CHAPTER 3
Audubon Center, Greenwich
 Audubon Center
 Fairchild Wildflower Sanctuary
* * *
Seasonal rating: Sp *** Su ** F **** W *
Best time to bird: For hawks and landbirds, late August to mid-November, with mid-September to mid-October best; for songbirds, mid-March to early June is good, with late April to May best.
Habitats: Mixed hardwood forest, old fields, apple orchard, a pond, butterfly garden, scrub edge, streams, vernal pools, and a lake.
Bird list for this site: https://qr-creator.com/r/yUTPTm
Resident – Black Vulture (uncommon), Eastern Screech-Owl, Great Horned and Barred Owls, Pileated Woodpecker, Common Raven (uncommon)
Summer – Wood Duck, American Woodcock, Blue-winged Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler (becoming rare), Louisiana Waterthrush, Orchard Oriole (front fields)
Winter – Red-breasted Nuthatch (numbers fluctuate annually), Yellow-rumped Warbler, Eastern Towhee, Fox Sparrow, Indigo Bunting, Purple Finch (mostly in migration), Pine Siskin (sporadic), Common Redpoll (sporadic), Evening Grosbeak (sporadic)
OTHER KEY BIRDS
Resident – Wild Turkey, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Eastern Bluebird, Cedar Waxwing(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Birding in Connecticut"
Copyright © 2018 Frank Gallo.
Excerpted by permission of Wesleyan University Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of ContentsForeword
THE SOUTHWEST COAST
GRASS ISLAND, GREENWICH
Grass Island Natural Area
TOD’S POINT (GREENWICH POINT), GREENWICH
AUDUBON CENTER, GREENWICH
Fairchild Wildflower Sanctuary
COVE ISLAND AREA, STAMFORD
Cove Island Park
ALLEN’S MEADOWS, WILTON
FOURTEEN ACRE POND, NORWALK
Fourteen Acre Pond
Sherwood Island State Park
Burying Hill Beach
H. Smith Richardson Wildlife Preserve and Christmas Tree Farm
Longshore Golf Club
The Mill Pond
Grace K. Salmon Park
TROUT BROOK VALLEY, WESTON AND EASTON
Trout Brook Valley Preserve
Crow Hill Preserve
Jump Hill Preserve
Saint Mary’s by the Sea Park
Ash Creek Open Space
Penfield Reef and Sunken Island
LORDSHIP TOUR, STRATFORD
Railroad Trail and Warehouse Fields
Access Road Ponds
Birdseye Street Boat Ramp
Shelby Pond, Shakespeare Theatre
Broad Street Pilings
THE NORTHWEST HIGHLANDS
WIMISINK PRESERVE, SHERMAN
Kent School Bridge
Skiff Mountain Road
MOHAWK MOUNTAIN AREA, CORNWALL
Mohawk Mountain State Park
Route 4 Swamp
Route 43 Swamp
Coltsfoot Valley and Great Hollow Road
Housatonic Meadows State Park
Rattlesnake Road Swamp
WINTER BIRDING TRAIL: GOSHEN TO NORFOLK
CONNECTICUT AUDUBON SOCIETY’S RICHARD G. CROFT MEMORIAL PRESERVE, GOSHEN
WHITE MEMORIAL FOUNDATION AND CONSERVATION CENTER, LITCHFIELD
Mitchell Farm and Housatonic River
Old Southbury Training School Farm
Bent of the River Audubon Sanctuary
THE CENTRAL COAST
Jonathan Law High School Pond (Beaver Brook Ponds)
Mondo Ponds Park
Silver Sands State Park and Charles Island
COASTAL WEST HAVEN TOUR
West Haven Boat Ramp
Bradley Point Park
South Street Beach
WESTERN NEW HAVEN PARKS
West Rock Playground
West River Memorial Park
KONOLD’S POND AND THE CHAIN LAKES, WOODBRIDGE
Lakes Dawson and Watrous (The Chain Lakes)
EAST ROCK PARK AREA, NEW HAVEN
East Rock Park
Regional Water Authority (RWA) Recreational Space
LIGHTHOUSE POINT PARK AND EAST SHORE PARK, NEW HAVEN
Lighthouse Point Park
East Shore Park
ECOLOGY PARK AND SHORELINE GREENWAY TRAIL, BRANFORD
SHELL BEACH, GUILFORD
WEST RIVER MARSH COMPLEX, GUILFORD
Jared Eliot Preserve
Sachem’s Head Marsh
East Wharf Beach to West Wharf Beach
East River State Boat Launch
HAMMONASSET BEACH STATE PARK, MADISON
THE CENTRAL INTERIOR
WINTER GEESE AND DUCK TOUR, ENFIELD AND SOMERS
Donald W. Barnes Boat Launch
King’s Island Boat Launch
BROAD BROOK MILLPOND, EAST WINDSOR
STATION 43, SOUTH WINDSOR
THE HOPPERS—BIRGE POND NATURE PRESERVE, BRISTOL
Rocky Hill–Glastonbury Ferry Parking Lot
Rocky Hill Meadows
North Farms Reservoir
DURHAM MEADOWS, DURHAM AND MIDDLEFIELD
Greenbacker Farm Pond
Durham Fair Grounds
Durham Meadows Wildlife Management Area
Lyman Orchards Pond and Cornfields
MACKENZIE RESERVOIR AREA, WALLINGFORD
Whirlwind Hill Road
Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Park
THE SOUTHEAST COAST
WINTER EAGLE AND RAPTOR TOUR, LOWER CONNECTICUT RIVER
Eagle Landing State Park
Parkers Point Boat Launch
Chester Ferry Dock
Deep River Depot
Essex Town Dock
CORNFIELD POINT SCENIC VIEWING AREA, OLD SAYBROOK
OLD LYME AREA
Ferry Landing State Park
Great Island Boat Launch
WATERFORD AND NEW LONDON AREA
Harkness Memorial State Park
Waterford Beach Park and Town Beach
Ocean Beach Park
Fort Trumbull State Park
Miner Lane Pig Farm
NEW LONDON–ORIENT POINT FERRY
BLUFF POINT COASTAL RESERVE AND HALEY FARM, GROTON
Bluff Point State Park and Coastal Reserve
Haley Farm State Park
BARN ISLAND WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA, STONINGTON
THE NORTHEAST HIGHLANDS
UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT STORRS CAMPUS AREA
Horsebarn Hill Loop
Pumping Station Road
BOSTON HOLLOW TOUR, ASHFORD
Connecticut Audubon Society’s Bafflin Sanctuary
Wyndham Land Trust Preserve
Natchaug State Forest
Needles Eye Road
Air Line Trail
QUINEBAUG VALLEY FISH HATCHERY, PLAINFIELD
Appendix A: Species Status Bar Graphs
Appendix B: Annotated Species List
Appendix C: Species by Habitat
Appendix D: State Bird Checklist
Appendix E: Connecticut Rare Species Review List
Appendix F: Birding Resources
What People are Saying About This
“Frank Gallo’s book brims with insight and overflows with Gallo’s trademark exuberance for his favorite subject.No northeastern birder’s library is complete without this comprehensive guide.”
“A consummate environmental educator, Frank Gallo shares decades’ worth of his hard-won, intimate knowledge of Connecticut places and birds he loves. This fantastic book now gives everyone a shot at front-row seats to the best birding locations the state has to offer!”
“This book is absolutely packed with useful details about all of Connecticut's best birding locations, as well as the most complete and up-to-date info on the status of Connecticut's birds, and will be an essential reference for any birder in the state.”
"A consummate environmental educator, Frank Gallo shares decades' worth of his hard-won, intimate knowledge of Connecticut places and birds he loves. This fantastic book now gives everyone a shot at front-row seats to the best birding locations the state has to offer!" Twan Leenders, President, Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History
"This book is absolutely packed with useful details about all of Connecticut's best birding locations, as well as the most complete and up-to-date info on the status of Connecticut's birds, and will be an essential reference for any birder in the state."David Sibley, author of The Sibley Guide to Birds
"Frank Gallo's book brims with insight and overflows with Gallo's trademark exuberance for his favorite subject.No northeastern birder's library is complete without this comprehensive guide."Pete Dunne, NJ Audubon's Ambassador for Birding
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
What is almost immediately evident about "Birding in Connecticut" is that is written by a savvy, expert birder. If you are an avid birder and have traveled around the country using other guidebooks you will appreciate this book's incredibly thorough and easy to use format. This is the exact information a birder always hopes to find in a guidebook. From the common birds for a specific area to rare and specialty birds as well as other key birds and migrants, it is all there. The book includes up-to-date directions to all birding locations and even includes where to park. Even if you think you know well some of the birding areas in this book you will be surprised at what you learn for that area once you check the guidebook. Excellent photos of birds accompany accurate and easy to read color maps for all the birding locations presented. QR codes accompany each site description that allow the reader to access a recent bird list for the site, and last, but not least, are several excellent appendices that include species bar graphs and descriptions, habitat lists, a bird checklist, a birding resources list and detailed species index. Treat yourself or a friend to this wonderful guidebook, you won't be disappointed.
A superb resource for birding in Connecticut. Really well-designed, in full color, with detailed maps, lists of common and rare species, and more. A model for what all state birding guides should be.
Frank Gallo is one of the most prominent and respected expert birders in Connecticut and this book is the equivalent to having him give a personally guided tour of the top birding locations within the state. The book is divided up into half a dozen regions, loosely following the various habitats found within the state, then broken into chapters highlighting the hotspots in each region. It is ingeniously set up so that each chapter covers an area, which may include a larger site or a few smaller adjacent sites, that can easily be made into a day trip itinerary. Each chapter includes a map of the site, a detailed description of the habitat(s) found there, the best seasons to bird there, and even essential parking/restroom details. There is also a detailed strategy of how to bird each area down to the exact path to take (i.e. - “walk north past the gate…….for about 50 yards”), common/uncommon and migrant birds found there by season, and when/where to find each specific species. If this wealth of information wasn’t enough, the book also contains a novel feature in which each chapter includes a QR code which, upon scanning with a smartphone, will bring the reader to continually updated species information for the area. This book is perfect for both novice and experts birders alike. The reader will find themselves referencing it time and time again for the best areas to bird in CT throughout the year.
I ordered the Nook version and hadn't seen the paper version yet. Very impressive information but I was disappointed that there wasn't a photo of each bird mentioned which would have rated 5 stars to me. Visuals help me a lot so not having a picture means I have to carry a field book or use another app in conjunction with this book. Great job Frank.