[CT Birds] Hammonasset

Mark Szantyr birdinggeek at gmail.com
Wed Jul 1 20:58:54 EDT 2015

At one time hammonasset was a birding gem. It had nearly every habitat you could want and was  only moderately used by the non-birding / beach-going public. There were few large groups using the park and few to no large park-monopolizing events. 

The birds loved Hammonasset. The low-key, bird-friendly management regimen ensured all types of birds could use their required habitats without fear of those habitats being managed or gentrified away from avian usefulness. 

Manage mosquitos, increase parking, get rid of rain pools, market the park to every type of outside group, even those that are known to damage habitat, improve the facilities for beach-goers at the expense of habitat,  clean it to the whim of well-meaning special interest groups even if it means killing an owl or two...in short, ruin the unique habitat-rich character of the park and makie it a mecca for the throngs of big- cash paying constituencies that raise the money necessary to make the park valuable in the eyes of administrators and legislators.  How can birders compete with that?  How can birds compete?

This park was so much more than that. 

Sadly, Hammonasset was the only game in town. No other park in the state provided its unique offerings. Now it is just one of many overused, over-populated venues in an overcrowded state.  

I remember days birding and studying birds there. I remember banding a Northern Wheatear with Noble and Dennis. I remember banding hawks with Ray,  i remember sorting through a flock of sparrows with Buzz and finding both Clay- colored and Lark, i remember annual Upland, Baird's and Buff-breasted Sandpipers, Barn, Saw-whet, Long-eared and Short-eared Owls, and a perky little Black-throated Gray Warbler. 

This was my favorite place to bird and now it is being ruined, one alleged improvement at a time.

Sure, people and organizations are showing concern but are afraid to make waves.  Some folks are trying. Sadly, very few of them knew the park at its best. They are satisfied with this shadow of its self and hope to play nice in order to keep a conversation open. It is just very sad. 

I am sorry some of you are upset by my negativity. I am deeply mourning the loss of an old friend and don't really have time nor energy for nicities. 

Mark Szantyr

Mark Szantyr

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