The Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center

The Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center

News & Information at the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center

Photographing Nature in Connecticut with Bob MacDonnell

Red fox by Bob MacDonnell

Bob MacDonnell has been photographing birds, wildlife, and natural history in Southeastern Connecticut and beyond for 25 years. In fact he took the banner photo on our home page of Great Island and its Osprey nests.

Join us for a two-part series as we explore and photograph natural areas throughout the southeastern part of the state.

Cost per session: $15 for members; $25 for non-members. Register online today.

Session 1: Birds and Wildlife
Saturday, October 21, 8 -11 a.m.

Explore birds and wildlife close to home as we visit the Great Island boat launch, Four Mile River and Rocky Neck State Park. Learn where, when, and what to look for as well as techniques to approach and photograph wary subjects and get sharp photos.

Discover how to get the most out of your camera with exposure, focusing and composition basics. 


Devil’s Hopyard by Bob MacDonnell

Session 2: Landscape, Scenic and Macro
Saturday, October 28 2:30-5:30 p.m.

Understand how to use the natural landscapes as we visit Devils Hopyard, Nehantic State Forest, and Lord Creek Farm. 

Learn how you can create exactly the image you want and how finding the right light can make any landscape a great picture. Explore exposure and lighting basics and how to use your camera’s controls and settings to get great results. 

Fall Lecture Series 2017

Join us for our fall lectures this October and November. All of our lectures are free to the public, but we ask that you RSVP. This fall, we will be focusing on the natural phenomena of our magnificent estuary and Long Island Sound. Register online today.

October 19, 4 p.m.
Old Lyme Town Hall
Reopening Traditional Connecticut River Spawning Grounds

Sally Harold, director of river restoration and fish passage for the Nature Conservancy, will discuss the recent dam removal project of the Norton Paper Mill in Colchester.

She will also talk about the removal of Ed Bills Dam in Lyme, opening 10 miles of upstream habitat on the Eight Mile River. 


October 26, 5 p.m.
Lyme Art Association
Tree Swallows: Local Murmuration and Global Migration

David Winkler, professor and faculty curator of birds at Cornell University, is a world expert on Tree Swallows. He has been studying them since the mid 1980’s and is currently focused on the effects of weather and climate on their food sources and reproduction.

Winkler’s lecture will provide a broad perspective on the global migration of Tree Swallows from northern Canada to Argentina and a concentration on the natural phenomenon known as “murmuration” seen locally on Goose Island.

November 2, 4 p.m.
Essex Meadows, Hamilton Hall
The Legacy of Long Island Sound

Patrick Lynch, scientific illustrator, photographer and author of A Field Guide to Long Island Sound, will discuss his new go-to-guide for anyone seeking basic information about the natural history of Long Island Sound.

Tom Andersen, director of communications for Connecticut Audubon and the author of This Fine Piece of Water: An Environmental History of Long Island Sound, will set the stage by telling the story of the first Dutch traders to explore the Sound and the Connecticut River and the incredible natural bounty they encountered.






Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center

The Connecticut Audubon Society’s Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center is dedicated to the conservation and preservation of the Connecticut River Estuary ecosystem and watershed, through science-based research, education and advocacy.

The Connecticut River Estuary, where the Connecticut River meets Long Island Sound, is a showcase for biodiversity, serving as a fisheries nursery and an important nesting and migratory stopover for numerous birds.

The RTPEC, named for internationally and locally renowned artist, scientific illustrator, environmental educator and conservation advocate Roger Tory Peterson, is seeking to acquire land and a building to create an environmental education center.

The center will be dedicated to facilitating scientific research, establish high-quality environmental education for children, teens and adults, and promote outreach and advocacy to preserve, protect and conserve the estuary and its beauty for generations.

Click here to read about Eleanor Robinson, our Center Director.

Click here to read about Heather Kordula and Amelia Graham, our teacher-naturalists.


A Summer at Camp Claire

This summer the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center received a grant from the Petit Foundation and Reynolds Subaru to initiate a pilot nature program at Camp Claire in Lyme.

The funding allowed the the center to purchase and construct a 16 x 16 framed, platform tent known as the  “naturalist niche.”

Campers gathered in the tent and ventured beyond to learn about Hamburg Cove and the local biodiversity, using scientific equipment and naturalist tools. Campers were able to explore the natural world with engaging activities including fish dissections, forest forays, and seine netting in the cove for crab and fish species. 

A camper votes on the daily question outside the  “naturalist niche.”

More than 75 children took a week-long nature class with Amelia Graham, one of our teacher-naturalists. Scores more visited the naturalist niche during free time for activities like bird bingo, shell matching and food web games.

By the end of summer, a new class had been introduced called Explore the Cove. Older campers could take a two-hour class every day with our teacher-naturalist in a canoe to explore Hamburg Cove.

Campers enjoyed canoeing up the Eight Mile River, visiting a sandbar in the Connecticut River, and searching for wading birds in the marsh.

“Everyone at Camp Claire is enthusiastic and passionate about the camp’s success,” Amelia said. “I’m so grateful that they welcomed the RTPEC into the camp family this summer.”

Success: A Celebration of Swallows Event

The Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center celebrated its first birthday on September 29 by hosting its first annual fundraiser, in Old Lyme.

We gathered at a stunning private residence on the river, and celebrated the year with cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and a dramatic view of the Tree Swallow murmuration.

Guests viewed the landscape through spotting scopes and binoculars and interacted with our center educators, while others watched a brief video about the creation of the center.

At sunset, everyone gathered to watch thousands of swallows dance through the sky before plummeting to Goose Island to roost for the night.

After the murmuration, the the center held  an auction for a private tour of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and a final tribute to our educators before ending the evening.

We would like to thank all of our hosts, sponsors and guests for a wonderful evening and a memorable celebration of all we have accomplished together this year.




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