Location: 2325 Burr Street, Fairfield
Directions: FROM I-84, take Routes 25, 8 or I-91 South to Wilbur Cross/Merritt Parkway (Route 15) and
FROM MERRITT PARKWAY: Take Exit 44.
From northbound: turn right off ramp onto Congress Street, From southbound: turn left at the first light, left at the second light, go under bridge and at next light, take right onto Congress St.
Proceed straight onto Congress Street to first stop sign. Take right onto Burr Street. Facility is 0.9 miles on the left.
FROM I-95: Take Exit 21 – Mill Plain Rd.
Proceed north on Mill Plain Rd. approximately 4.5 miles to CAS Center at Fairfield. (At the third stop sign, Mill Plain Rd. turns into Burr Street – continue straight.)
Habitat: Upland forest, fields, wetlands, swamp, ponds and streams
Size: 155 acres
Description and species: The Roy and Margot Larsen Wildlife Sanctuary surrounds Connecticut Audubon Society’s Center at Fairfield and is one of the largest and most widely used of our sanctuaries. Within its 155 acres it contains a great variety of habitats and wildlife. The sanctuary has seven miles of trails that include the Chiboucas wheelchair-accessible trail for the disabled. Observation platforms and bridges, interpretive signage concerning the history of the area and its flora and fauna, and an Algonquin wigwam replica all add to the experience. A brochure with a self-guided hike is available at the center, and we highly recommend you stop in to pick one up. There is a nominal admission in the form of a small donation for non-members and non-residents of Fairfield.
Hundreds of species of birds can be found within the Roy and Margot Larsen Wildlife Sanctuary. The sanctuary ponds hold a variety of ducks as they migrate south each fall and attract early spring insectivores like Eastern Phoebes and Eastern Bluebirds. A quiet mid-winter walk over the boardwalk on the streamside trail will often treat you to Winter Wren, Hermit Thrush, Brown Creeper, and many more species attracted to these warm microhabitats. Nest boxes throughout the sanctuary are utilized by many passerines as well as owls, like Eastern Screech Owls who nest in these boxes and Barred Owls who roost there during the daytime. Numerous birds can be found breeding in the Larsen Sanctuary each year and inventories and monitoring studies are ongoing. During a Breeding Bird Survey class last year led by Conservation Biologist Dr. Twan Leenders, Coastal Center Director Frank Gallo, and Conservation Technician Scott Kruitbosch, species confirmed as breeding included Tufted Titmouse, Black-capped Chickadee, House Wren, Tree Swallow, Great Crested Flycatcher, and more. Any species you can expect to find in upland forest, inland wetlands, or freshwater habitat can conceivably be expected here.
While we continue to work to record all of the birds found in every season at the sanctuary, you can also find a great deal of other wildlife here. White-tailed Deer are frequently seen bounding through the woods. Occasionally you may see them running in the opposite direction of a Red Fox. The typical New England woodland mammals can all be found here, but one to look for in particular is the American Mink. Yes, really – you can see them here in certain areas along the main trail. Frogs, toads, salamanders, snakes and turtles are also in abundance in many spots, all the way from the farm pond near the entrance to the sanctuary to the vernal pools and damp woods on the other side of the sanctuary.
Since the summer of 2010 students from Housatonic Community College have accompanied their biology professor in a regular survey of the fish of the Larsen Sanctuary wetlands and streams. Several species have been identified, including American Eel which migrate upstream from the Long Island Sound. This place is full of surprises – come see it for yourself and share your observations with us!
Please stop by soon whether it is for a stroll on your own, for a school field trip, or in the company of Connecticut Audubon Society staff during a guided walk or class.
All photographs © Twan Leenders