Hiking and birding go hand in hand. Enjoying a hike is an excellent way to get in some exercise while enjoying the great outdoors, even with frequent stops to spot and maybe photograph a favorite species. The following places in Connecticut afford birders and hikers an excellent experience. Check one out the next time you get the urge to enjoy a leisurely hike—and be sure to bring your binoculars, too.
One of the top birding sites in Connecticut, Sherwood Island State Park affords outdoor enthusiasts the best of both worlds. In addition to close to 300 species of birds in the park, there are also hiking trails that traverse some of the 234 acres. Great horned owls are spotted here regularly.
A 40-mile trail marks the Farmington Canal Heritage Greenway, and within that span is a treasure trove of birdwatching opportunities. Part gravel, part asphalt, and part crushed stone, the trail is used by hikers and mountain bikers. Wear good hiking shoes, as the wear and tear on feet from the varied terrain can be tough. A vast number of bird species are spotted here with great frequency. Watch for woodpeckers, yellow warblers, and cardinals.
Forty miles of trails grace the White Memorial Conservation Center. Several bird species’ nest in the woods, by the lake, and near the marsh here. This spot is noted especially for the 15 species of nesting warblers, wild turkey, pileated woodpeckers, scarlet tanagers, and rose-breasted grosbeaks. In total, approximately 240 species call this conservation center home.
The trails that lead into the woods at Hammonasset Beach State Park make for good hiking, but they also take birders to spots where more than 250 bird species have been spotted. A nature center is located just over a mile and a half into the woods. From there, they extend further into the woods as well as to two raised platforms that allow views over the wetlands. Marsh wrens, saltmarsh sparrows, clapper rails, and American bitterns have all been spotted here.
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Hike over sand dunes, along the beach and on the boardwalk at Coastal Center at Milford Point for a look at some beautiful birds. The sanctuary sits on the shores of the Housatonic River, where countless species have been viewed. Sand pipers, egrets, herons, and nesting osprey have all been spotted here. Climb the viewing tower and see a panoramic view of the center from a vantage point. Three hundred different species were spotted at this sanctuary in recent years. The 8.4 acres make for a nice hike, as well as increase the likelihood of capturing some great glimpses of beautiful birds—and maybe even some pictures, too.