Deer Pond Farm News & Visitor Information
The Connecticut Audubon Society received a generous bequest in 2017, from the estate of Kathryn D. Wriston, of 835 acres of rugged hardwood forest, meadows, and wetlands straddling the state border of Connecticut and New York.
Called Deer Pond Farm, approximately half the property is in Sherman, and half in Pawling, N.Y.
The bequest gives the Connecticut Audubon Society a major location in the western part of the state, to go along with its centers in Fairfield, Milford, Glastonbury, Pomfret, and Old Lyme. The bequest also includes an endowment to manage the property and conserve it as wildlife habitat.
The property sits in the highlands along the Connecticut-New York border. About 620 of its 835 acres are upland forest; 125 acres are forested wetlands, and 59 acres are meadow. About 100 species of birds have been reported on or near the property during breeding season, including forest birds such as Broad-winged Hawk and Scarlet Tanager, marsh birds such as Virginia Rail, and birds such as American Woodcock, Eastern Towhee, and Chestnut-sided Warbler, which nest in young forests or shrubby areas.
Mammals include bobcat, several bat species, fisher and long-tailed weasel, beaver and black bear. As many as 11 species of snake possibly live on the property.
Numerous reptiles and amphibians breed in its 11 vernal pools. The Deer Pond Farm list includes spotted salamanders, slimy salamanders, dusky salamanders, and wood frogs.
Deer Pond Farm includes a network of 20 miles of trails. In April 2017, Connecticut Audubon received permission from the town of Sherman Planning & Zoning Commission to allow recreational public access to the trails. Although long-term plans are still being formulated, in the short-term Connecticut Audubon is scheduling guided walks, by reservation.
Deer Pond Farm is not open for visits by the public unaccompanied by Connecticut Audubon staff, so reservations are essential.
Visitors will hike on portions of the 10 miles of trails that wind through the Connecticut section of Deer Pond Farm, which Connecticut Audubon recently took title to. It is expected that it will take title to the Pawling section when it emerges from New York State Surrogate’s Court.
The property includes a house on Wakeman Hill Road, Sherman, serves as Deer Pond Farm’s office. Cathy Hagadorn, who until recently served as director of Connecticut Audubon’s Coastal Center at Milford Point, is Deer Pond Farm’s director.
SUNY Purchase Wildlife Ecology Students Field Work
Dr. Allyson Jackson, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at Purchase College SUNY, will bring wildlife ecology students to Deer Pond Farm to assist with nesting boxes and amphibian surveying.
Dr. Jackson’s masters thesis was on bluebirds and on March 24 she’ll lead a small group of students in selecting placement and installment of our first five bluebird boxes. With many bluebirds already on the grounds we look forward to providing these safe nesting sites and beginning monitoring. Kathy Coe, one of our volunteers and a retired middle school teacher from Washington Montessori School, will lead this citizen science project.
On March 26, Dr. Jackson will students here for a field trip module on amphibian ecology. They will assist with an amphibian survey of the property’s vernal pools to establish what species are present and in what abundance.
Dr. Jackson is also leading a Family Friendly Walk & Talk here on Saturday, May 12 from 10 a.m. to noon. She’ll discuss why birds sing, how and where they raise babies and how we can use the signs around us to know if birds are breeding. Register here.
Wood Duck Nesting Boxes Installed
Milan Bull, senior director of science and conservation at The Connecticut Audubon Society, installed the first of four Wood Duck nesting boxes at Deer Pond Farm on February 28, 2018.
Once at risk of extinction, Wood Ducks – with help of nesting boxes and the benefits of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 – have increased in populations. Unable to make their own nesting holes, Wood Ducks use these boxes for nesting sites.
With nesting season beginning in March, we are excited to see two pairs already on the pond and are hoping one of the pairs will make a home in the recently installed box.