The Coastal Center at Milford Point

Fall Programs

 Hidden Gems Series: Bird Walks in Milford Parks  

7:45  – 8:45 a.m.

Sunday, September 28: Mondo Ponds – Warblers and other migrants
Saturday, October 4:  Silver Sands State Park- Sparrows and early waterfowl
Saturday, October 18: Boothe Park, Stratford – Hawks and other migrants
Saturday, October 25: Eisenhower Park (Community Gardens) – Sparrows and other migrants
Saturday, November 15: Mondo Pond – Waterfowl
Saturday, November 22: Milford Point – Thanksgiving Duck run

Milford is blessed with many wonderful parks. Expert birder Frank Gallo, has handpicked the best sites to explore in spring, from hidden gems, such as Wilcox Park, to more well-known sites, such as Milford Point. Frank will guide walkers to a variety of species of seasonal birds at each location. No experience necessary. Binoculars are available upon request. Preregistration recommended. Contact Louise at 203-878-7440 x 502 to register and to request binoculars. Meet at each park; directions will be provided.

Fee: $9 per walk ($5 seniors, $7 CAS members)

 

The Feathered Edge
A lecture series on current scientific trends

Daniel Field

“From Big Years to Big Eras: Birding the ABA Area through Geological Time”

Sunday, November 16, 2:30 p.m.
Lecturer: Daniel Field, Yale University, Ph.D. student in Vertebrate Paleontology

The present day is an amazing time to be a birder. For example, Neil Hayward was able to set a new Big Year record in 2013 using modern birding networks, improved taxonomic knowledge, and ubiquitous transportation options. He recorded more than 700 North American species over twelve months. Although the current diversity on the North American continent is impressive, the fossil record reveals some truly shocking additions to the ABA checklist! While spotting a frogmouth or a mousebird in Wyoming today would incite a twitch of epic proportions, paleontologists have revealed that these exotic lineages, along with many others, were present on our continent 50 million years ago. Even further back in time, we have uncovered surprising evidence of the birds that would have flown above the heads of dinosaurs. This talk will examine how the structure of the North American avifauna has changed dramatically over evolutionary time, and will lead us to a discussion of the most fundamental ornithological question of all: Evolutionarily speaking, what is a bird?

“Long Island Sound and Climate Change: What is happening now and what is predicted to happen?” 

Sunday, December 7, 2:30 p.m.
Lecturer: Juliana Barrett, Ph.D. Associate Extension Educator, Connecticut Sea Grant College Program, University of Connecticut.

This presentation will explore predicted climate change impacts for Connecticut over the next 100 years and adaptation strategies to improve our resilience. Storms Irene and Sandy showed just how vulnerable coastal Connecticut is to damage from storms and storm surges. The impacts of climate change on coastal municipalities is likely to result in heavier downpours, more vulnerable beaches and dunes, and tidal marshes threatened by rising sea levels. These events challenge communities to come up with adaptation strategies to deal with impacts from climate change and many communities are working to address this challenge.

To register for The Feathered Edge lecture series or individual lecture, contact our office manager, Louise Crocco, at 203-878-7440 x 502.

Fee: $5 suggested donation (free for CAS members, $3 seniors)

 

Autumn Owl Prowl

Friday, November 21, 7:15 p.m. – 9:15 p.m.

When the sun retreats, owls awaken to go in search of prey. Some say that owls are wise, others that they sparked legends of ghosts. Whatever the truth, autumn is a fine time to uncover the mysteries of these amazing nocturnal hunters. We’ll learn about a few of the species that co-exist in our area, and then carpool to a local park to try to call one in. It’s a hoot!

To register, call Louise Crocco at 203-878-7440 x 502

Fee: $25/person. (CAS members $20)

 

SOLO Wilderness First Aid Courses

Saturday & Sunday, January 10 & 11, 2015 (Adult CPR possible) or,

Saturday & Sunday, April 4 & 5, 2015 (Adult CPR possible)

9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. each day

SOLO’s 16-hour comprehensive introductory Wilderness First Aid (WFA) course is a must for outdoor enthusiasts. Using mock rescue scenarios, skilled instructors provide participants hands-on experience with first aid and long-term patient care in the backcountry. WFA is recognized by the American Camping Association, U.S. Coast Guard, and various guide and Connecticut Summer Camp licensing boards as meeting their first aid requirement, and is accepted as a recertification course for WFR (80-hour First Responder-nominal additional fee). Payment in full is due upon registration; please register early by calling Louise at 203-878-7440 x 502.

Cost: $195 includes lunch & snacks ($100 non-refundable). There is an additional fee for CPR training; please inquire if interested.

 

 

The Big Sitters: From left, Jim Dugan, Nick Bonomo, Frank Gallo, Tom Murray, and Patrick Dugan. Photo by Keith Thomas.

The Big Sitters: From left, Jim Dugan, Nick Bonomo, Frank Gallo, Tom Murray, and Patrick Dugan. Photo by Keith Thomas.

Big Sit! Results in Big Numbers!

Frank Gallo spent the day recently with five first-rate birders stationed on an observation platform at the Milford Point Coastal Center. From dawn until dusk, the crew counted birds to raise money for the Center. Their efforts have brought in more than $2,000! If you weren’t able to make a pledge before the event, you can still support the Coastal Center here. Here’s Frank’s account of the day:

On Sunday, October 12, 2014, we had the most amazing day I’ve seen in 21 years of doing the Big Sit! The weather set up perfectly; a front cleared on Saturday afternoon bringing north/northeast winds overnight and through the morning. Birds moved Saturday night and we had a great pre-dawn and dawn flight of migrants. Thrushes were going over calling before first light and songbirds and raptors were streaming through all morning. The winds shifted to the east then south/southwest in the afternoon and we had a nice push of ducks, loons, and grebes in the late afternoon. The tide was low in the morning and high at 3 p.m. so we saw a lot of shorebird and wader movement in and out of the marsh during the day.

The grand total for the Connecticut Audubon Society’s Surf Scopers was an astonishing 117 species! This eclipses our previous high of 107 set in 2010. To put things in perspective, our 20-year average is 78 species, and the last 10-year’s average is 89 species.

I want to thank all my teammates, Jim and Patrick Dugan, Nick Bonomo, Jake Musser, Tom Murray, and all the folks who lent a hand… Michael Carpenter kept us going with a well-timed and appreciated coffee and donuts delivery. Tom left for a bit, only to return with a hot pizza mid-afternoon!! Wow, was that good. Keith Thomas and Carol Cantrell, Daniel Field, Jackie Eaton and the gang, thanks for stopping to say hi and lending a hand, too! George, what can I say! Thank you, too. Our teammates Tina Green and Frank Mantlik were away this year, but they were with us in spirit.

Highlights included: A mid-sized owl (Long or Short-eared – think Short-eared for our friend who made the $50 challenge pledge!) – that flew by the tower just before dawn, an American Bittern, Pine Siskins and Common Ravens calling before dawn, our first Veery, Gray-cheeked, Swainson’s and Hermit Thrushes, our first Brown Thrasher, White-crowned, Chipping, Field, Lincoln’s and more than 40 Nelson’s Sparrows, Blue-headed and Red-eyed Vireos, Pectoral and White-rumped Sandpipers, a Bonaparte’s Gull, early Horned and Red-necked Grebes… and the list goes on… One of the first birds we saw at dawn was a Bald Eagle flying across the marsh! Our last new birds were an early Red-necked Grebe migrating west, and a pair of Black Scoters flying east late in the day.

We thank all who pledged this year to support the Coastal Center. Thank you one and all!! If you haven’t made a donation, it is not too late. Click here.

Thanks again!!!

Frank Gallo and the Surf Scopers

Summer Camp 2014

Registration for Connecticut Audubon Society’s summer camps is underway!

This page has everything you need to register for camp at the Coastal Center at Milford Point.

  • To register online for camp at the Milford Point Coastal Center, click here.
  • To download the Milford Point Coastal Center brochure, click here.

For more information about summer camp at Milford Point, call 203 878-7440.

Our camps provide the ideal outdoor settings for children to explore, investigate, and discover science and nature.

We offer eight weeks of nature-inspired sessions for campers age 4 – 14 at the Center at Fairfield and Birdcraft Museum; age 3-15 at the Milford Point Coastal Center; age 6-12 at the Center at Pomfret; and age 4-10 at the Center at Glastonbury.

At Connecticut Audubon Society’s summer camps, kids have the kind of fun that can come only from exploring the woods and tide pools, visiting marshes and brooks, or meeting an owl or a turtle up close and personal.

Our camps offer natural science presented so it’s fun, fascinating and tactile. The teacher-naturalists and educators are well-trained, knowledgeable and expert in finding ways to instruct — and delight — anyone who wants to learn about the natural world.

Counselors and junior volunteers provide additional support. Staff trained in First Aid, CPR, and Epi-Pen are present throughout the duration of camp. Our high staff to camper ratio ensures all campers have a safe, fun, and educational camp experience.

Snowy Owl Irruption

This Snowy Owl was resting recently on the rocks at Stratford Point. Photo by Anthony Zemba/Copyright Connecticut Audubon Society

This Snowy Owl was resting recently on the rocks at Stratford Point. Photo by Anthony Zemba/Copyright Connecticut Audubon Society

Snowy Owls have irrupted in the northeast this winter, invading in good numbers and providing a rare spectacle that is delighting birders and underscoring the region’s connectedness to events above the Arctic Circle.

In Connecticut, one of the best places to see Snowy Owls locally is Connecticut Audubon Society’s Milford Point Coastal Center, where one and sometimes two birds have been feeding and roosting for about a week. Snowy Owls have also been seen in Old Lyme, West Haven, Hammonassett State Park, Falkners Island, Stratford, Bridgeport and Westport.

At Milford Point, the owls have most often been seen out on the point itself, which is visible from the observation tower at the Coastal Center building, or on the jetty near the mouth of the Housatonic River.

“We hope as many people as possible get to see these spectacular birds but we urge everyone to keep their distance,” said Milan Bull, Connecticut Audubon’s senior director of science and conservation. “It’s never a good idea to disturb birds just for the sake of  taking a photo or seeing them fly, but with Snowy Owls we know they are particularly tired and hungry from their journey. They need every bit of energy to survive the winter and make it back to the Arctic in time for breeding season.”

The grounds are open from dawn to dusk seven days a week, and the center building is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. til 4 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.

Much of the land surrounding the Coastal Center is private or, like parts of the McKinney National Wildlife Refuge, off limits, so the best places from which to observe the Snowy Owls are the observation tower at the center building or the observation platform on the Long Island Sound beach.

Please do not approach the owls too closely.

General Information

Coastal Center at Milford Point

Coastal Center at Milford Point

Connecticut Audubon Society’s Coastal Center at Milford Point is located on an 8.4-acre barrier beach and is situated next to the 840-acre Charles Wheeler Salt Marsh and Wildlife Management Area at the mouth of the Housatonic River.  The Coastal Center promotes the awareness of Long Island Sound’s ecosystem, the birds and habitats it supports, and its preservation needs; and provides access to Long Island Sound and its many habitats: tidal salt marshes, barrier beaches, tide pools, and coastal dunes.  The Coastal Center is a bird-watcher’s paradise – 315 species have been seen here, including many rarities. The Coastal Center offers a full range of educational programs and many events for families, children, and adults.  The Coastal Center provides educational exhibits, a tide pool demonstration tank, a salt-marsh laboratory, and program and meeting rooms. The Coastal Center’s grounds contain the 8-acre Smith-Hubbell Wildlife Refuge and Bird Sanctuary, a boardwalk and observation platform with interpretive signage, and a 70-foot covered observation tower for panoramic vistas.  Viewers from around the world watch the Center’s seasonal Osprey Cam, operated from our 18-foot tall nesting platform.

Education Programs


School Programs (for Children Ages 3 and above).

Our professional naturalists and educators offer a wide range of programs that can be delivered at our Center, or in your classroom or schoolyard.  Current programs include:

  • Amazing Mammals
  • Animals Getting Ready for Winter
  • Aquatic Animals
  • Feathered Friends
  • Feathers, Fur, and Scales
  • Let’s Go Buggy! (Amazing insects!)
  • Life Between the Tides (Tide pool exploration)
  • Migrating Monarchs (butterfly tagging possible in fall)
  • Native Americans of the Housatonic
  • Nails, Tails, and Scales (A close look at reptiles and Amphibians)
  • Night Creatures: Owls and Bats
  • Rocks & Minerals
  • Scenes from a Saltmarsh (saltmarsh ecology)
  • Schoolyard Nature Hike
  • Shifting Shells
  • Watersheds (three different programs are available):
    • Watersheds Around Us
    • Long Island Sound in a Jar
    • The Blue Travler
  • Click here for program descriptions and a copy of our school program flyer. To schedule a program or for more information, call use at 203-878-7440, ext. 502.Preschool Programs

Preschool Programs

The Coastal Center also offers programs tailored for preschools. Click here for a preschool program flyer.

After School Programs

The Coastal Center currently presents after school program series in nearly all the elementary schools in Milford, and in other area towns.  For more information about our hands-on dynamic programs,  click here for copy of our After School Program flyer.

Brownie, Girl Scout, Cub Scout & Boy Scout Programs

Our updated scouting programs are 60-90 minutes long and are designed to help scouts earn their badges and learn about the environment. Our new scout programs include:

  • Rocks Rock
  • Science Sleuth
  • Water Wonders
  • Weather Watch
  • All About Plants
  • Cleanup Treasure Hunt
  • Secret Codes
  • Sharing Your World With Wildlife
  • Nature Detectives
  • Native American History (with a new wigwam built by a local BS Troop)

Call 203-878-7440 for more information or click here for our new Girl Scout & Brownie Programs brochure, or click here for our new Boy Scout & Cub Scout Programs brochure.

Birthday Parties

Look no further! CAS’s Coastal Center at Milford Point is the perfect place to hold your child’s next birthday party! Our staff has designed a wide range of “theme” parties to provide your child and their friends with a memorable and fun hands-on learning experience. Call 203-878-7440  for details or click here for our Birthday Party Brochure.

Events at the Coastal Center at Milford Point

News and Announcements

Fall Programs

 Hidden Gems Series: Bird Walks in Milford Parks  

7:45  – 8:45 a.m.

Sunday, September 28: Mondo Ponds – Warblers and other migrants
Saturday, October 4:  Silver Sands State Park- Sparrows and early waterfowl
Saturday, October 18: Boothe Park, Stratford – Hawks and other migrants
Saturday, October 25: Eisenhower Park (Community Gardens) – Sparrows and other migrants
Saturday, November 15: Mondo Pond – Waterfowl
Saturday, November 22: Milford Point – Thanksgiving Duck run

Milford is blessed with many wonderful parks. Expert birder Frank Gallo, has handpicked the best sites to explore in spring, from hidden gems, such as Wilcox Park, to more well-known sites, such as Milford Point. Frank will guide walkers to a variety of species of seasonal birds at each location. No experience necessary. Binoculars are available upon request. Preregistration recommended. Contact Louise at 203-878-7440 x 502 to register and to request binoculars. Meet at each park; directions will be provided.

Fee: $9 per walk ($5 seniors, $7 CAS members)

 

The Feathered Edge
A lecture series on current scientific trends

Daniel Field

“From Big Years to Big Eras: Birding the ABA Area through Geological Time”

Sunday, November 16, 2:30 p.m.
Lecturer: Daniel Field, Yale University, Ph.D. student in Vertebrate Paleontology

The present day is an amazing time to be a birder. For example, Neil Hayward was able to set a new Big Year record in 2013 using modern birding networks, improved taxonomic knowledge, and ubiquitous transportation options. He recorded more than 700 North American species over twelve months. Although the current diversity on the North American continent is impressive, the fossil record reveals some truly shocking additions to the ABA checklist! While spotting a frogmouth or a mousebird in Wyoming today would incite a twitch of epic proportions, paleontologists have revealed that these exotic lineages, along with many others, were present on our continent 50 million years ago. Even further back in time, we have uncovered surprising evidence of the birds that would have flown above the heads of dinosaurs. This talk will examine how the structure of the North American avifauna has changed dramatically over evolutionary time, and will lead us to a discussion of the most fundamental ornithological question of all: Evolutionarily speaking, what is a bird?

“Long Island Sound and Climate Change: What is happening now and what is predicted to happen?” 

Sunday, December 7, 2:30 p.m.
Lecturer: Juliana Barrett, Ph.D. Associate Extension Educator, Connecticut Sea Grant College Program, University of Connecticut.

This presentation will explore predicted climate change impacts for Connecticut over the next 100 years and adaptation strategies to improve our resilience. Storms Irene and Sandy showed just how vulnerable coastal Connecticut is to damage from storms and storm surges. The impacts of climate change on coastal municipalities is likely to result in heavier downpours, more vulnerable beaches and dunes, and tidal marshes threatened by rising sea levels. These events challenge communities to come up with adaptation strategies to deal with impacts from climate change and many communities are working to address this challenge.

To register for The Feathered Edge lecture series or individual lecture, contact our office manager, Louise Crocco, at 203-878-7440 x 502.

Fee: $5 suggested donation (free for CAS members, $3 seniors)

 

Autumn Owl Prowl

Friday, November 21, 7:15 p.m. – 9:15 p.m.

When the sun retreats, owls awaken to go in search of prey. Some say that owls are wise, others that they sparked legends of ghosts. Whatever the truth, autumn is a fine time to uncover the mysteries of these amazing nocturnal hunters. We’ll learn about a few of the species that co-exist in our area, and then carpool to a local park to try to call one in. It’s a hoot!

To register, call Louise Crocco at 203-878-7440 x 502

Fee: $25/person. (CAS members $20)

 

SOLO Wilderness First Aid Courses

Saturday & Sunday, January 10 & 11, 2015 (Adult CPR possible) or,

Saturday & Sunday, April 4 & 5, 2015 (Adult CPR possible)

9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. each day

SOLO’s 16-hour comprehensive introductory Wilderness First Aid (WFA) course is a must for outdoor enthusiasts. Using mock rescue scenarios, skilled instructors provide participants hands-on experience with first aid and long-term patient care in the backcountry. WFA is recognized by the American Camping Association, U.S. Coast Guard, and various guide and Connecticut Summer Camp licensing boards as meeting their first aid requirement, and is accepted as a recertification course for WFR (80-hour First Responder-nominal additional fee). Payment in full is due upon registration; please register early by calling Louise at 203-878-7440 x 502.

Cost: $195 includes lunch & snacks ($100 non-refundable). There is an additional fee for CPR training; please inquire if interested.

 

 

The Big Sitters: From left, Jim Dugan, Nick Bonomo, Frank Gallo, Tom Murray, and Patrick Dugan. Photo by Keith Thomas.

The Big Sitters: From left, Jim Dugan, Nick Bonomo, Frank Gallo, Tom Murray, and Patrick Dugan. Photo by Keith Thomas.

Big Sit! Results in Big Numbers!

Frank Gallo spent the day recently with five first-rate birders stationed on an observation platform at the Milford Point Coastal Center. From dawn until dusk, the crew counted birds to raise money for the Center. Their efforts have brought in more than $2,000! If you weren’t able to make a pledge before the event, you can still support the Coastal Center here. Here’s Frank’s account of the day:

On Sunday, October 12, 2014, we had the most amazing day I’ve seen in 21 years of doing the Big Sit! The weather set up perfectly; a front cleared on Saturday afternoon bringing north/northeast winds overnight and through the morning. Birds moved Saturday night and we had a great pre-dawn and dawn flight of migrants. Thrushes were going over calling before first light and songbirds and raptors were streaming through all morning. The winds shifted to the east then south/southwest in the afternoon and we had a nice push of ducks, loons, and grebes in the late afternoon. The tide was low in the morning and high at 3 p.m. so we saw a lot of shorebird and wader movement in and out of the marsh during the day.

The grand total for the Connecticut Audubon Society’s Surf Scopers was an astonishing 117 species! This eclipses our previous high of 107 set in 2010. To put things in perspective, our 20-year average is 78 species, and the last 10-year’s average is 89 species.

I want to thank all my teammates, Jim and Patrick Dugan, Nick Bonomo, Jake Musser, Tom Murray, and all the folks who lent a hand… Michael Carpenter kept us going with a well-timed and appreciated coffee and donuts delivery. Tom left for a bit, only to return with a hot pizza mid-afternoon!! Wow, was that good. Keith Thomas and Carol Cantrell, Daniel Field, Jackie Eaton and the gang, thanks for stopping to say hi and lending a hand, too! George, what can I say! Thank you, too. Our teammates Tina Green and Frank Mantlik were away this year, but they were with us in spirit.

Highlights included: A mid-sized owl (Long or Short-eared – think Short-eared for our friend who made the $50 challenge pledge!) – that flew by the tower just before dawn, an American Bittern, Pine Siskins and Common Ravens calling before dawn, our first Veery, Gray-cheeked, Swainson’s and Hermit Thrushes, our first Brown Thrasher, White-crowned, Chipping, Field, Lincoln’s and more than 40 Nelson’s Sparrows, Blue-headed and Red-eyed Vireos, Pectoral and White-rumped Sandpipers, a Bonaparte’s Gull, early Horned and Red-necked Grebes… and the list goes on… One of the first birds we saw at dawn was a Bald Eagle flying across the marsh! Our last new birds were an early Red-necked Grebe migrating west, and a pair of Black Scoters flying east late in the day.

We thank all who pledged this year to support the Coastal Center. Thank you one and all!! If you haven’t made a donation, it is not too late. Click here.

Thanks again!!!

Frank Gallo and the Surf Scopers

Support our Coastal Center with a 2014 Big Day Pledge

The Raven Luna Ticks, ace birders all.

The Raven Luna Ticks, ace birders all.

Connecticut Audubon Society’s birding team is working to raise more than $5,000 in support of the Coastal Center at Milford Point by finding 200 bird species in a single day in Connecticut, as part of the Connecticut Big Day Challenge. We need your support!

In 2011, our team, the Raven Luna-ticks, broke the long-standing Connecticut Big Day birding record by identifying 192 species, besting both the Connecticut and the New England records, while raising thousands of dollars for the Coastal Center. We were ecstatic! Last year, we tied the old Connecticut record of 186 species. It was a great success, but still shy of the elusive 200 species goal. We found amazing birds for late May in Connecticut, including some unexpected goodies such as a singing Summer Tanager in New London, and a beautiful White-faced Ibis that flew by us in Westbrook. We had scouted more than 190 species, with many others possible, so 200 in a day is doable, and we’re going to be the ones to do it!

It’s a new year, and we not only want our record back, but we also want to raise critical funds for the important conservation and education programs at the Coastal Center. To optimize our chances of success, we will make our run between May 18th and May 26th. We are already busy scouting our route and finding raptor nests (please let us know if you have any in your area).

We can only achieve our goal with your support. Please, pledge or donate today.

You can donate by filling out and returning this pledge form or via our 2014 Connecticut Big Day Challenge webpage.

Remember, every dollar raised directly supports the Coastal Center at Milford Point – helping us to remain leaders in conservation and natural science education. Thank you in advance for your generosity!

All the best,
Frank Gallo, Director
Coastal Center at Milford Point

And the Raven Luna-ticks Team
Nick Bonomo, Patrick Dugan, Dave Tripp, and Fran Zygmont

Sign Up Now for Solo Wilderness First Aid

Saturday & Sunday, January 10 & 11, 2015 (Adult CPR possible) or,

Saturday & Sunday, April 4 & 5, 2015 (Adult CPR possible)

9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. each day

 SOLO’s 16-hour comprehensive introductory Wilderness First Aid (WFA) course is a must for outdoor  enthusiasts. Using mock rescue scenarios, skilled instructors provide participants hands-on experience  with first aid and long-term patient care in the backcountry. WFA is recognized by the American  Camping Association, U.S. Coast Guard, and various guide and Connecticut Summer Camp licensing  boards as meeting their first aid requirement, and is accepted as a recertification course for WFR (80-  hour First Responder-nominal additional fee). Payment in full is due upon registration; please register  early.

 Cost: $195 includes lunch & snacks ($100 non-refundable). There is an additional fee for CPR training;  please inquire if interested.

 Call Louise Crocco at 203.878.7440 to register.

 

Big Sit! Results and Video

The expert birders who participated in the Big Sit! fundraiser for our Milford Point Coastal Center on October 13 tallied 82 species and raised $1,100 and counting.

Our Surf Scopers team, Patrick and Jim Dugan, and Frank Gallo, occupied an observation deck at Milford Point from before dawn til dusk, ears alert, binoculars and scopes at the ready. Videographer Jason Kessler. who made a movie about the World Series of Birding called Opposable Chums, stopped by the shoot a short video.

You can view Jason’s video here. The first person interviewed is Jake Musser, who helped out in the morning, followed by Jim Dugan and then Frank Gallo, the director of Connecticut Audubon Society’s Milford Point Coastal Center. Patrick Dugan (Jim’s brother)  is seen looking through his scope and Wendy Knothe is also interviewed.

It’s not too late to contribute. Call the Coastal Center at 203 878-7440 to make a pledge.

 

The Day We Earned Our Name: The Raven Luna-ticks 2012 Big Day Run

Fog and rain made the heron colony on Charles Island invisible from the boardwalk at Silver Sands State Park, Milford. From left, are Jim Dugan, Dave Tripp, Patrick Dugan and Fran Zygmont (looking the other way). Connecticut Audubon Society photo by Frank Gallo

There is nothing I like better than standing in a swamp listening to the myriad mutterings of the night. Midnight, the morning of May 21, was no exception; it was the start of our 2012 Big Day run to raise money for the Connecticut Audubon Society’s Coastal Center, and I was standing with three teammates, Patrick Dugan, Dave Tripp, and Fran Zygmont, in a swamp in central Connecticut.

At a minute to midnight, Fran had trilled like an Eastern Screech-Owl. We were hoping and waiting for one to respond while listening to the musings of Virginia Rails “kicking” in the background to the accompaniment of “twanging” green frogs. Seconds after midnight, two screech-owls started whinnying together, a Marsh Wren sang and, just minutes later, a Green Heron gave its harsh squawk.  Of the Least Bittern, there was no sign, not a single peep did it utter.

We raced back along the waterlogged trail in high spirits, with hopes of soon finding Sora, Whip-poor-will, singing Grasshopper Sparrows, and a plentitude of owls, secure in the knowledge that there were still other stops for Least Bittern.

The Soras were silent, and our foray for grassland birds was a bust, but an American Woodcock, along with Solitary and Spotted Sandpipers, had all chimed in at one stop, and we discovered, at random, a Barn Owl. It was calling while it was going in and out of a barn — at first, loud, then muffled, loud, then muffled. Bizarre.

One horned lark, and a back-up Grasshopper Sparrow, put us back on track and we raced west through the night, picking up our Whip-poor-wills and Cliff Swallows, and bagging four more species of owls. Our stop to listen for migrants produced only one, a Swainson’s Thrush. But, ahead of schedule, we tried for a moorhen and picked up American Bittern. Sweet!

Dawn found us listening to the warbles of Canada Warblers and Northern Waterthrushes in the northwest corner of Connecticut. Our well-planned north route (thanks to Fran and Dave) had us picking off species after species: Magnolia Warbler, Nashville, Worm-eating, and Blackburnian Warblers in a single stop; Purple Finch, Dark-eyed Junco, and Winter Wren all sang at the scouted sites. Our staked-out pheasant was sauntering through a field when we arrived, so we sped off to find Belted Kingfisher and Willow Flycatcher, before heading to our Acadian Flycatcher spot.

As we drove up, the Acadian sang, so we spun around, snagged a Cerulean Warbler from the roadside, and made a swing through an area for brush-loving species: Brown Thrasher, check; Orchard Oriole, check; Field Sparrow, check; Prairie Warbler, check, and we were off.

During the rest of the morning, we would add species such as Broad-winged and Red-shouldered Hawks, Black Vulture, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, and Hooded Warbler. Our total was building nicely; we were right on track, a little behind schedule, but quickly approaching last year’s record-setting total for the north.

The American Coot was right were I left it the day before (I mean, saw it) and it was time to shoot for the coast – with 130 species and high hopes that days of scouting would pay off. Our bright morning sky was clouding quickly and our arrival in Stratford was accompanied by strong east winds and rain. Binoculars became microscopes, as visibility shrank. We increased the pace, trying to outrun the rain, and picked up Boat-tailed Grackle, Short-billed Dowitcher, Ruddy Turnstone, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, and a few other targets, but little else. We decided to cut our losses and head east. At our first stop, scouting rewarded us with a female Bufflehead, found the day before, and a bonus Common Loon.

Spirits lightened, but the weather worsened. By the time we reached the Branford coast visibility was down to 100 yards. All the scoters, Long-tailed Ducks, and Red-throated Loons I had scouted during the week had vanished in the fog. It was maddening. We did manage to find a single Purple Sandpiper on a rock near shore, and made a last-minute save on the Black Scoter that flew in and landed on “his” island as we were leaving.

Well, two were better than none, and there was lots of daylight left. If the weather would just clear, we might still have a chance. We had scouted 191 species, with many others possible, so we crossed our fingers, and flew off to Hammonasset Beach.  

I’ve never tried birding by feel, but the fog was so thick when we arrived, that we nearly had to, trying to identify the Little Blue Heron in the Meig’s Point Pond. The Park was an eerie landscape of surreal shapes and brief glimpses of birds materializing softly from the gloom, only to vanish again, like ghosts, engulfed in silence. Fortunately, Seaside Sparrows sang, and a lone Saltmarsh Sparrow walked within sight beside the board walk. The search for our other target species was in vain. No Tri-colored Heron; no Lesser Yellowlegs; no loons, or waterfowl – just white, rain, and wind. The atmosphere was palpable; the visibility nonexistent.

We decided to try farther to the west in hopes that the storm cell would pass to our east. It didn’t, and Milford Point was shrouded in fog. It’s a good thing that birds make noise. Two of our next three species were found by ear: a Piping Plover called near its nest, and the shadows of six Sanderling rocketed past us on the beach uttering their “plick, plick, plick” calls. As we were preparing to leave, Patrick finally found a White-rumped Sandpiper that had wandered out of the fog just close enough for us to see.

A last ditch stop at Silver Sands turned up more fog rather than the scouted Lesser Yellowlegs. Poor Charles Island and its heron colony just offshore, was only a memory, invisible in an impenetrable bank of white.

As we stood there among the clouds, peering east into mist and drizzle, we pondered what to do. Our tally was 171. Two or three more species were possible, if the weather gods cooperated, but given their track record, we opted to call it a day and let everyone drive home safely. No sense pushing the envelope when people had long drives home; better to do it early then late, when we’d be more tired. There would be other days. We did our best, and I’m proud of our results given the hand we were dealt. It was a good day. After all, we started in a swamp enjoying the nightlife, so how bad could it be? – Frank Gallo, director of the Connecticut Audubon Society Coastal Center at Milford Point

The Big Day is over but it’s not too late to make a pledge to support the Coastal Center at Milford Point. You can find a link to a pledge form on this page.

Raven Luna-ticks Break Connecticut Birding Big Day Record!

Friday, May 20
(rain date  5/21)

On Friday, May 20, the Connecticut Audubon Raven Luna-ticks (Nick  Bonomo, Patrick Dugan, Frank Gallo, Dave Tripp, and Fran Zygmont) not only broke the Connecticut Big Day birding record of 186 species, but also bested the New England record of 191, by finding an amazing 192 species in Connecticut in just twenty-four hours!  Read more about our day at http://ctaudubon.blogspot.com/ and at http://www.shorebirder.com/ A full account of our Big Day will be posted on our blog soon.

So far, the event has raiseed over $2000 for CAS’s Coastal Center at Milford Point.  We’re two-thirds of the way to our goal of $3000.  Please help us reach this important goal, by making a pledge today. Every dollar you give will go directly to support CAS’s Coastal Center at Milford Point – Yankee Magazine’s recipiant of this year’s editor’s choice award for best birding destination in Connecticut.  

 We can’t do it without you, and we thank you for your generosity!

Pledge forms are available here, or by contacting Frank Gallo at  203-878-7440  x 501.

Frank is on “Bird Calls” radio show with Chris Bosak

Frank talks with Bird Call’s producer Chris Bosak about our upcoming Birding Big Day Fundraiser, getting children involved in birding, and our successful Return of the Osprey Party. Click the link below to listen to the show.

http://www.birdsofnewengland.com/id94.html
Or visit www.birdsofnewengland.com and click on “Bird Calls archives” from the home page.

LIVE Animal Demonstrations & Feedings

Third Saturdays of the Month at 12:30 p.m.

Meet a new animal each week and steal a peak into their worlds. From snakes to turtles to insects, there is sure to be something for everyone! All ages are welcome. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Cost: $4/adult & $2/child CAS Members; $8/adult & $4/child Non-members. Senior Rate $2.

Birthday Parties

Look no further! CAS’s Coastal Center at Milford Point is the perfect place to hold your child’s next birthday party! Our staff has designed a wide range of “theme” parties to provide your child and their friends with a memorable and fun hands-on learning experience.

Call 203-878-7440 for details or click here for our Birthday Party Brochure.

Directions

From I-95: Take Exit 34. Turn right at the traffic light where the ramp meets Route 1. Go ½ mile to the third light at Naugatuck Avenue. Turn left onto Naugatuck Avenue and go 0.8 miles to the second light at Milford Point Road. Turn right and follow Milford Point Road ½ mile to the stop sign at Seaview Avenue. Turn right and go 0.35 miles. When the road forks, take the right fork into the parking area.

From Merritt Parkway: Take Exit 54, the connector to I-95, and follow the above directions.

From I-84 westbound: Take I-91 south to I-95, and follow the above directions.

From I-84 eastbound: Take Route 8 south to I-95 northbound, and follow the above directions.

Connect to MapQuest

Address

1 Milford Point Road
Milford, CT 06460
203-878-7440

Center Hours:

Tuesday-Saturday
10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Sunday, Noon-4:00 p.m.
(Closed Monday)

Our adjoining 8-acre
Smith-Hubbell Wildlife Refuge and Bird Sanctuary is open daily, year-round, from dawn to dusk.

Sanctuary Map
Get Directions

Coming Up At the Coastal Center At Milford Point

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