Thursday, June 17, 2010

10 Places I've Seen Along Route 17

There is a five mile stretch of road along route 17 between Portland and South Glastonbury that has a lot to offer including some interesting places in which to look for birds. Her is a quick overview of some places of interest that I am familiar with:

The Connecticut Audubon Center at Glastonbury-I visited this place on a few occasions. They do rehabilitation work with wild injured birds here. They have a nature center that includes a few hawks that were unable to be released back into the wild because of the nature of their injuries. They have a Parrot that can be very talkative named Lovey. In the back of the nature center is a trail that follows Holland brook through the 48 acre Earle Park. This is where I saw my first Eastern Bluebirds.

Right next door to the Audubon Center is the Old Church Cemetery. There are a lot of tall pine trees bordering the cemetery. I enjoyed watching the antics of Eastern Phoebes and Chipping Sparrows as they perched up on some of the old headstones. The oldest one I found dated back to about 1810. I have a habit of reading inscriptions whenever I go to an old cemetery. What I found interesting at this particular cemetery was some of the last names which are very familiar in the area. Knowing that some of the people that were buried here so long ago still have relatives living in town makes it all the more interesting to me by creating a sort of historical bridge from the past to the present.

2) The Old Cider Mill-A little farther south on the same side of the road is the old cider mill. This is a great place to stop in the for cider, donuts and pumpkins in the Fall. They have a few farm animals for kids to see as well.

3) So. G Coffee Roaster-I recently discovered this coffee shop located in South Glastonbury Center. Fresh coffee beans are purchased from select farmers around the world and the beans are roasted right in the store. I've already tried several different varieties of their coffee including some that was organic or shade grown. The coffee is more expensive than what you get out of a can from the grocery store but I think it's worth it.
4) Cotton Hollow Preserve- This is a nature preserve in the center of South Glastonbury with a trail that follows Roaring Brook. As I walked along the trail, I found this model of a tee pee which someone had built out of sticks. I usually find the standard variety of woodland birds here but it is a pleasant place to take a walk.

5) Rocky Hill -Glastonbury Ferry- If you turn down route 160 just before the bridge from it will lead you to a ferry which has been in operation since 1655. It was just a raft back then. The current fare is $3.00 per vehicle to cross the Connecticut River or $1.00 for a walk on passenger. I found the birding near the ferry lunch to be productive during the winter months. I had good luck here during the Christmas Count.

6) The Farm Stands-There are several farm stand directly on route 17. Berutti's, Draghi's, and Gotta's Farm are three of the most notable ones. This is where I buy local fruits and vegetables as well as the plants for my garden. I've done some limited birding on the land owned by some of these farms but I make sure to check with the owners first.

7)-The Fruit Orchards-if you take Foote Road off of 17 you can follow the signs to Belltown Hill Orchards, Roses Berry Farm, and Dondero Orchards for some native grown fresh fruit. This area has some really scenic views of the the expansive orchards which are situated up in the hills. It can also be a good place to find raptors in the Fall.
8)- Great Pond Preserve- This is a nice little spot to do some birding. The entrance is located on Great Pond Road which is off of route 17. There are trails that lead to a glacial pond where I've seen Green-winged teal, Wood Ducks, Hooded Mergansers and various shorebirds during different times of the year. Some of the birds I've seen along the trail over the past couple of years include Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Blackburnian Warbler, and Worm-eating Warbler. This past weekend I saw a Barred Owl flying through the woods (owl photo is from Granville MA in 08). I was reading about how owls form a flock which is referred to as a parliament of owls. I'd love to see a parliament of owls. The most adult owls I've seen at one time is 2. the same This is a good spot to visit early in the morning if you want to get in an hour or two of birding.
Besides the barred Owl, I also found a Red Squirrel . They are fairly common but you don't see them nearly as often as you see Gray Squirrels in Connecticut. They are known to tap maple trees so they can come back to eat the sap that runs out onto the bark and branches.
They're also known to be nervous, wary and pretty darned fast too!
9) Abe Temkin Preserve-The hidden entrance to this preserve is on Cedar Terrace. I came across this spot about a year ago and it's become one of my favorite local birding spots. I've had a close encounter with a Pileated Woodpecker, a singing Winter Wren, and add to the list this past weekend an Acadian Flycatcher. What I like most about this preserve is the way the trail descends down a ravine so deep that you forget that it makes you forget that your anywhere near a house. It has a wild feel to the place. It was cloudy most of the weekend so I tried to get closer to the birds by using this wooden bridge as a partial blind. I had several close encounters while I was on the bridge. A Great Blue Heron came in for a landing 2 feet away from me but then flew off in a panic when it saw me. A Belted kingfisher landed right above my head before flying downstream. Several birds came down to take a drink from the brook, Veerys and redstarts were constantly flying past me. Every picture I took came out blurry or too dark. I'll have to give this a try again on a sunny day.
As you are heading south on 17 into Portland, there is a DEP access for Wangunk Meadows on the right. Some enjoyable sightings I had at Wangunk Meadows this Spring include Purple Martins, a Blackpoll Warbler, Indigo Buntings, and Yellow-throated Vireos. There is another reason that makes this a worthwhile place for birders to visit in the Spring and early Summer but I won't go into details about why. just follow the trail down to the field and take a careful look around.
So there you have it. You'd never know there was so much to see along this portion of route 17 if you were just passing through.
Do you know of a special road like this near where you live?

click to play
What is the vireo putting in its mouth?


Lana Gramlich said...

Unfortunately we have no such roads (that I know of, anyway.) I was delighted to discover the Flatwoods so close to our house (a year after we moved here,) though.

Colleen said...

I used to go down this road often and if I am back in town visting (my sister lives in Glastonbury) I will take this route. I didn't know about some of the places and that last place sounds fabulous.

Richmond VA

Kathie Brown said...

Well, now I know where to go birding next time I go to CT! Very informative post. Thanks! Usually I am in CT at this time of year but this year I will be there later in the summer. Not sure when yet.

Larry said...

Lana-It's nice to have places to go that are close to home.

Colleen-The last place has it's own specialty if you visit between about April and July.

Kathiebirds-There's no one hotspot but lots of places close to each other worth checking out.

Cindy said...

I love this post, Larry. Very informative and makes you want to stop and visit some of these places. Thanks.

John said...

Larry, I found this post very useful; gave lots of ideas for day excursions. Thanks!

Larry said...

John-Glad the information was of use to you-Happy Independence Day!