[CT Birds] Spots??

Roy Harvey rmharvey at snet.net
Mon Sep 15 23:55:11 EDT 2014

My apologies to all for the length of this.  I was going to send it privately to Daisy but there were a few bits here and there I thought might be worth sharing with everyone.  (Particularly about using The Connecticut Warbler archive.)


I heartily endorse the suggestion of Bluff point but want to add a few things.  I usually only get there once or maybe twice a year - for me it is a long drive from a painfully early start - but have been visiting the spot for over a decade.

First, the all time champion of Bluff Point at this season is Dave Provencher.  Dave wrote a site guide that appeared in The Connecticut Warbler back in 1993.  You can download a pdf file with that year of the Warbler from here: http://ctbirding.org/pubs.htm.  The article starts on page 94 (pdf numbering, not what it says at the bottom of the page, that is 84).  Later I will say more about the map that opens the article.

(As an aside, the archive of old issues of The Connecticut Warbler is a valuable resource EVERYONE should be aware of.  For example Nick Bonomo mentioned a good book about good birding locations in CT.  Many Site Guides were published in the Warbler, Go to the Master Index: http://ctbirding.org/CTWarblerMasterIndexVol1-32.htm and search on Site Guides.)

The birds - the mix of species varies as the season progresses.  Two visits a week 
apart can have very different birds.  The experts can tell how far along the migration is by the mix of birds.

Time - it pays to get there EARLY.  First light is not quite necessary, but 
within a couple of minutes of sunrise is recommended.

Blocking weather - bad weather at night when the small birds migrate.  
Sometimes the best morning flight is the 2nd morning after it passes.

Wind the night before - to get a good morning flight requires the wind overnight to come at least partially from the west.  Someone local such as yourself can afford to visit on the "maybe" days and still go elsewhere if it flops.

Location - as soon as you pass under the railroad tracks, park.  It is possible to park on either side, which is to say along the water on the right, or in a wide space to the left.  Do not block the gate.  As you walk toward the gate to your left will be a small raised area along a fence where a handful of birders can stand.  That's where the experts all position themselves.  (Note that the road continues, with water to the right and woods to the left, to a real parking lot (and toilets of a sort).  Past that parking lot is the main part of the park but I don't bird that part and as far as I know neither does anyone else.)

Watching them fly by - There are some very, very, very skilled birders who can just stand with backs to the fence and identify the birds as they fly by in a manner beyond the ken of mortals such as myself.  One chip of a call note or a glimpse and they identify the bird.  (At least that is how it seems to me.)  The rest of us go nuts trying to see one long enough for an ID.  Sometimes I stand with them for a while and try to watch the ones still in the trees.  Mostly I move off to the left, into the small field along the fence, and watch that same bunch of trees from the side with the sun at my back.  Far fewer birds, no question, but at least for some of them I have a chance to see them.  Identification is something else, but at least I see them.  The two trails I mention below start from that field.

Then what? - After that busy stage is over there is still birding to be done.  That is when you walk the trails from that point south through the woods until you reach the outhouses and the main parking area, and then return.  There are two main paths that meet at either end, and parallel the entrance rd that runs along the river/inlet/whatever it is.  I usually take the left (east) one on my first (southbound) leg; there is one open area with a brushy area adjacent, but the whole way can be productive.  On the way back I take the other trail, which (since I am now headed north) is again on the left.  When you get back to your car it is probably mid-morning so you can continue on to your next birding spot.

The map - with the map from the article in hand, and the lousy description of the trails I gave, open Google Maps and find Bluff Point State Park.  Change to the Satellite view.  Zoom out and move to the top of the area so the railroad is visible.  Find the almost white parking area at the end of the road; compare that to Dave's map and it matches with the P for parking.  A line runs from around there east through the woods.  Everything I talked about is between that line and the railroad, and none is that far in from the road to the parking lot.  The trails are somewhat visible and probably preferred to the ones Dave drew.  If you find a spot that looks like six or eight mounds of gray gravel, that is to the east of the first trail I mentioned.

Hope that helps.

Good birding!

Roy Harvey
Beacon Falls, CT

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