Deer Pond Farm News & Visitor Information
Updated Directions Due to Route 37 Closure in Sherman, CT
Please note, as of September 6, 2018 route 37 north of Big Trail in Sherman is closed to all thru traffic. A detour route is signed to use route 39 between Sherman and New Fairfield. Estimated completion date is September 30, 2018. This does not impact travel from route 37 out of New Milford. Click here for more 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 opened the grounds and trails of the Connecticut section to the public Saturday, July 7 2018. The grounds and trails will be open year-round, seven days a week from dawn to dusk.
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.
Deer Pond Farm Bird Checklist – click here.
Deer Pond Farm Trail Map – click here.
Deer Pond Farm Trail Descriptions – click here.
Deer Pond Farm Sanctuary Rules – click here.
Directions – click here.
Bird & Pollinator Display and Education Garden
Deer Pond Farm is excited to have completed phase one and two of our Bird & Pollinator Display and Education Garden. This garden serves to improve habitat and create a warm welcome area where visitors can enjoy a beautiful landscape planting and learn the benefits of utilizing native plants. It occupies an area where Mrs. Wriston kept a nursery to protect young seedling plants such as our native Eastern White Pine.
Phase one focused on defining the boundaries and planting areas of the garden, and the selection and installation of native trees and shrubs. This includes plants such as Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida) which is a host plant for the butterfly Spring Azure, is visited by several native bees for nectar and pollen, and provides fruit for birds.
Spring Azure will also enjoy Maple-leaf Viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium), Meadowsweet (Spirea alba var. latifolia), and Highbush Blueberry (Vaccinum corymbosum). Other butterflies and moths that will have host plants and nectar include: Brown Elfin, Cecropia Moth, Henry’s Elfin, Huckleberry Sphinx Moth, Hummingbird Clearwing, Promethea Moth, Saddleback Caterpillar Moth, Spicebush Swallowtail, and the Striped Hairstreak.
American Robin, Cedar Waxwings, Northern Cardinal, Yellow-rumped Warbler and other fruit-eating birds will have their choice of Flowering Dogwood, Highbush Blueberry, Maple-leaf Viburnum, Meadowsweet, Spicebush (Lindera benzoin), Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia ‘Hummingbird’), and Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) .
Plants like Winterberry and Meadowsweet will provide cover and nesting sites for birds.
Hummingbirds, which are pollinators will enjoy Summersweet.
Phase two included nearly 400 plants of 15 perennial species and seeds of five species of annuals and perennials. The plant species were selected for their functions as sources of nectar throughout the spring, summer, and autumn seasons, as well as their potential to serve as host plants for various species of butterfly and moth caterpillars. Additionally, the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds will also enjoy the nectar of these plants and songbirds such as the American Goldfinch will utilize the seed heads as a food source.
The Bird & Pollinator Display and Education Garden has been supported by a team of volunteers, including landscape architect Karen Cowperthwaite, who completed the concept design and University of Connecticut Master Gardeners Robert Fossity and Michelle MacKinnon. Bette McKenna, cooperative work experience intern from Naugatuck Valley Community College, assisted with maintenance over the summer and phase two planning.
For the list of plants in the garden, click here
Interested in volunteering to support this garden? Click here.
Butterflies Enjoying the Grounds
As the weather has warmed, we have enjoyed seeing and identifying 25 species of butterflies at Deer Pond Farm. With the recent addition of our pollinator garden and plans for more planting, we look forward to attracting more. Of the approximately 20,000 species of butterflies worldwide, there are 700+ in North America, and a little over 100 in Connecticut. Like birds, there are residents which spend the year in state and migrants like the well-known Monarch which overwinters in Mexico and visits.
Butterflies are insects from the order Lepidoptera, meaning scaly winged, which also includes moths. They go through complete metamorphosis and emerge as adults with thousands of miniature scales covering their wings. They are known for their often colorful wings, day time activity and club shaped antennae, all of which differentiate them from moths.
Their habitat needs include: water, sun, shelter and plants. Host plants for caterpillars and nectar plants for the butterfly are both important.
For the list of butterflies identified at Deer Pond Farm, click here.
Continued Collaboration with Great Hollow Nature Preserve & Ecological Research Center
In July of 2018, ten Tree Swallow nest boxes were installed in an open field by one of our ponds. We hope to increase the population of Tree Swallows for future research by Great Hollow. Additional nest boxes will be installed in the future.
Tree Swallows, though common, have experienced a decline and are noted as low concern for conservation. As noted by Chad Seewagen Ph.D. Executive Director of Great Hollow, they “are easy to study and have served as a model species in ornithology and conservation biology for decades.”
We look forward to supporting this project and continuing our collaboration with Great Hollow, a non-profit organization. Similar to the Connecticut Audubon Society, their work focuses on environmental education and conservation. Other projects which we are working on together include the CT Bird Atlas Project and the Northeast Interior Motus Wildlife Tracking System project funded by FirstLight Power Resources.
FirstLight Power Grant to Fund Bird Tracking
The Connecticut Audubon Society will install two telemetry receiver system antennas to capture critical data on bird migration, thanks to a matching $9,323 grant from FirstLight Power Resources. A new generation of highly miniaturized radio telemetry antennas, the Northeast Interior Motus Wildlife Tracking System allows researchers to track the movements of radio-tagged birds, bats, and insects across thousands of miles of distance with precision. Named after the Latin word for “movement,” the Motus system shares data with researchers throughout the Western Hemisphere. Local data will be provided to Connecticut Audubon Society as a hosting organization.
“FirstLight Power Resources is excited to be able to support this important scientific project in continued support of the Connecticut Audubon Society’s commitment to conserving the environment,” said Len Greene, FirstLight’s director of government and regulatory affairs.
Connecticut Audubon will install the two telemetry antennas within the Housatonic River watershed region – one at Deer Pond Farm in Sherman, and the other at another key location to be determined.
Chad Seewagen, PhD, executive director of the Great Hollow Nature Preserve and Ecological Research Center in New Fairfield, will assist with technical guidance and data gathering.
“Expanding the program’s ability to track migrating birds through the Atlantic Flyway wildlife migration route is one more way that Connecticut Audubon Society is supporting bird conservation efforts throughout Connecticut,” said Cathy Hagadorn, director of Deer Pond Farm. “We are grateful for FirstLight Power’s support of this important initiative.”
Installation of the antennas will be completed within six months, with continued calibration and data gathering throughout the one year grant period, with data collection to continue afterwards.
Connecticut Audubon Society’s mission is to conserve Connecticut’s environment through science-based education and advocacy focused on the state’s bird populations and their habitats.
FirstLight Power Resources seeks to improve the quality of life within the 23-town Housatonic River region by supporting community-based organizations that promote environmental protection, energy efficiency and public safety. For more information, visit www.firstlightpower.com
Deer Pond Farm Welcomes Jim Arrigoni, Conservation Biologist
It is our pleasure to announce that Jim Arrigoni, conservation biologist, began his new role with Connecticut Audubon Society on Friday June 1. Jim will primarily be in charge of land management at Deer Pond Farm and assisting with management projects on other western CAS sanctuaries. He will also continue to lead educational and outreach environmental conservation programs throughout the state.
Over the past 20 years, Jim has worked as a field biologist throughout the northeast and western United States, as well as Belize and China. Although his greatest expertise is with amphibians and reptiles, he also has extensive experience with invertebrates, trout and salmon, and, of course, birds. He has taught courses in conservation biology, aquatic ecology and herpetology at SUNY Syracuse and Goodwin college in East Hartford.
Beyond natural history and ecology, Jim is especially interested in understanding how people interact with and influence nature and wildlife, both historically and in the present day. He aspires to apply perspectives gained from his education and travels to finding solutions for the harmonious co-existence of people and nature in his home state of Connecticut. Toward this end, he views habitat restoration/management and public education as equally important endeavors.