Storrs Area Hotspots
The man-made Mansfield Hollow impoundment is formed by a series of large, inter-connected ponds fed by the Mount Hope, Natchaug and Fenton rivers.
There are open deciduous and White Pine woodlands, grassy fields adjacent to the lake, and brushy power line in the dam area. Waterfowl, raptors, shorebirds, swallows, thrushes, and warblers and sparrows in migration. In early spring as waterfowl begin to move north Common Loon (rare), Common and Hooded Mergansers, Ring-necked Duck, Bufflehead, Ruddy Duck and other waterfowl species may be found in the relatively deeper water in this area. The spillway area is a good place to find Solitary and Spotted Sandpiper in spring migration and in fall swallows may congregate in large numbers. American Kestrel and Eastern Bluebird (resident) may be found in the field behind the dam. Gulls often roost on a sandy island across the field. In August look for flocks of migrating Common Nighthawk.
Lake surrounded by woodlands and short grassy fields at the airport. Birds are observed from above along a paved surface (handicapped accessible) on top of the dike that extends to the dam (approximately 1 mile). Waterfowl, shorebirds, gulls, warblers, and raptors are common during migration and at other times of the year. A scope is helpful for spotting birds on the lake and the airfield. The short grass at the airport attracts Killdeer, American Kestrel, Horned Lark, and Eastern Meadowlark. Upland Sandpiper has been seen here too. When lake water levels are low, the exposed mudflats below the dike attract migrating shorebirds. Look for shorebirds during (mostly fall) migration if the impoundment water level is low especially when thunderstorms knock birds down. After a hurricane a Sabine's Gull was found here. Grasshopper Sparrows, Brown Thrashers, and Eastern Meadowlarks nest on inaccessible airport property and the first state record Fork-tailed Flycatcher was seen at the airport in July 2000.
This linear preserve along the Airline Trail is an abandoned railroad bed a short distance from the airport dike location. This is an excellent location to find Worm-eating Warbler in spring and other warbler species. Total length of the walk is approximately 1 mile round trip.
Open lake, brushy lakeshore, and trails along the edge of the lake and through woodlands. Waterfowl, shorebirds, warblers, and woodland birds are found here. Scan for stopover Bufflehead and other waterfowl in winter. The trails to the SW can be good for warblers in migration and Worm-eating Warbler in breeding season. Canoeing and kayaking are possible here with access to several large bodies of water and two rivers. Scan to the NE corner and other areas for perched Bald Eagles.
This is a large area with woodlands and some open fields adjacent to the Natchaug river. This area is seen across the impoundment from the airport/dike area but is not accessible from there except by boat.. You can easily spend 1/2 day here walking the trails. Unfortunately we have not (yet) found a trail map of the area. Hunting field trials are sometimes held here in any season so be careful if you see signs in the parking lot or hear gunshots. The parking lot is a very reliable place to see Indigo Bunting in breeding season. From the parking lot you may elect to either follow the old road or climb the small hill toward the hut and explore the trails beyond it. The old road starts out wooded and leads to overgrown fields and eventually the impounded lakeshore. Take any of the numerous trails off the road. Worm-eating Warblers breed on the steep hillsides in this area. Listen for Pine Warblers here too. You can reach the shoreline from a spur trail and if water levels are low you may be able to observe the shorebirds from closer range than is possible from the dike.
If instead you decide to proceed NW toward the hut seen from the parking lot you will cross several grassy fields and some cultivated ones passing through mixed pine/hardwood forest along the way. The trail(s) will eventually lead to the wooded section seen across the road from the boat launch area. Raptors, swallows, flycatchers, thrushes, warblers and sparrows along with many other species inhabit this area in breeding season. In early spring check the lake for waterfowl mentioned earlier the MHSP dam description.
Brushy lakeshore and open woodlands. Many trails begin in this area. Behind the athletic fields southeast of the causeway is a woodland trail. Southwest of the causeway there is a well hidden entrance to a parking lot providing access to the incoming Fenton river and trails to woodland and wetland areas. Look for woodland species, Belted Kingfisher, wading birds, warblers, and waterfowl in the area. Also, from a turnout just northeast of the causeway there is access to the old roadway and a trail you can follow adjacent to the lake that runs over toward the MHSP boat launch area.
Field edge, brushy areas, surrounded by woodlands. Thrushes, sparrows, warblers and raptors are often seen. It is best to bird this area when the transfer station is closed (Sun,Mon,Wed,Fri). Park before the gated entrance to the Mansfield Transfer Station. Areas to the west are either Town of Mansfield or Mansfield Hollow SP and there are trails through varied habitat on Army Corp of Engineers property (part of the Mansfield Hollow flood control area) that are adjacent to the Fenton River . There is a considerable amount of wetlands in this area accessible using marked and unmarked trails.
Lake surrounded by woodlands and a grassy field. This is a public water supply and access could be restricted. The Town of Mansfield owns and maintains as open space the grassy field opposite Puddin Lane. Many species of waterfowl and some gulls roost here from October thru April. A scope is helpful for spotting birds on the lake. To avoid enforcement hassles it may be best to view the area from the roadside.
Wetlands, a small pond, brushy areas, cultivated fields, and woodlands are found here but the area has changed somewhat as a result of development by the University. Willows, brush and weedy areas around the pond next to the parking lot are good for warblers and migrating songbirds and excellent for sparrows in fall. Brown Thrasher and Savannah Sparrow have nested in the area. Lincoln, White-crowned and Vesper Sparrows are often found during migration. Large flocks of Bobolink use the cornfields in late summer. Raptors including American Kestrel and Northern Harrier patrol the area and Merlin and Peregrine Falcon are sometimes seen. If Canada Geese suddenly flush from the field look for Bald Eagle. In late fall look for Killdeer and other shorebirds and American Pipits in the cornfield. In winter Canada Geese, Horned Larks and Snow Buntings (unusual) are regularly found in the adjacent fields and in some years Northern Shrike (rare). Walking the field edges and woodland road you may see a wide variety of species. Some of the more unusual birds that have been found here include Northern Lapwing, Northern Wheatear, Yellow-breasted Chat, and Lark Sparrow. UConn parking regulations are enforced here.
Cultivated fields, cattail swamp, pasture, and woodland edge. A wide variety of habitat and many areas to explore. This area, including Lot W above, is an important trans-migratory stop for many species and home for threatened grassland species and raptors. In season you may find breeding American Kestrel, Bobolink, Eastern Meadowlark, and Savannah Sparrows. Eastern Bluebirds are common. Many hundreds of Canada geese regularly use these fields in winter months and in recent years other goose species have turned up including Cackling, Greater White-fronted, Snow, Barnacle Goose and Brant. Look for Northern Harrier, Red-tailed and Red-shouldered Hawk here also. Migrating Wilson's Snipe may be found in the seasonal wet area on the east side of the field below the horse barns. Snowy Owl has been found very rarely. Parking in this large area is governed by posted signage. You can park at the UConn Dairy Bar and also at/near Kellogg Barn.
A shallow pond that may attract area waterfowl - especially in colder months. Check here in early morning or dusk. There can be several thousand Canada Geese here in winter and perhaps a rarity mixed in among them. However, UConn now (successfully) discourages flocks from using this location. Osprey (unusual) and Great Blue Heron along with Ring-billed and Herring Gulls may be found at times. UConn parking regulations are enforced here.
Reach this area by turning left in front of an old farmhouse at the base of Gurleyville Road (coming from UConn). It's a sharp left and not well marked onto Pumping Station Road. Do not be dissuaded by the sign warning not to enter that a private landowner has erected but do stay off that private property to the right as you drive in. When you reach the first sharp right turn you are surrounded by UConn-owned property.
This area borders the Fenton River including a large open field with adjacent wetland. There is diverse habitat including the UConn Forest with a network of wooded trails. Here you may see warblers, thrushes, sparrows, Wood Duck, and woodland species including Pileated Woodpecker. Listen for Ruffed Grouse, Veery and Black-throated Green Warbler on the trails along the river. On spring evenings American Woodcock are often displaying in the open field. To explore the area make your first stop at the utility cut before the sharp right turn. The road proceeds downhill and takes a sharp left at the brick building. In spring and summer Indigo Bunting, Pine Warbler, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and Louisiana Waterthrush may be here. At this junction you may follow the road to the field or walk the paths along the river to your right. A short walk along the road will lead to the open field at the end of the road which leads to more trails through the woods. Check the field for raptors, warblers, sparrows, and finches. Wood Duck is sometimes present in the wetland. The trail along the river can be followed north until Rte 44.
Cultivated fields, 2 small ponds, and woodland edge. In winter Canada geese can be found in the ponds and adjacent fields. Eastern Bluebird is common in the campus area. UConn parking applies but enforcement may
Coventry Lake - Coventry
Many interesting and varied species of waterfowl can be found here from fall migration until the lake freezes over and sometimes in large number. It is usually the last lake in the area to freeze over.
Pasture, hedgerows, large White Pine stand, and a working farm. American Kestrel and Indigo Bunting have been observed in this area. Canada Geese frequently use these fields during winter months. It is best to observe from your vehicle. After parking in a small turnout along Rte. 32 just north of the entrance to the farm you can carefully walk the highway checking the field edges.
Wooded and weedy river edge, wetlands, open fields and woodland edge. Kayak or canoe access downstream into Eagleville Lake is possible from here. The leaching fields for a water treatment center (altered in late 2001) and the area around them are often good for migrating warblers and sparrows. Look for wading birds in the small river cove and for raptors overhead.
This area is very good for warblers in migration. Trails into the south end of the park begin across the street in the woods. At the entrance take the trail to the left crossing the wooden bridge 150 feet down the trail. Continue until you come to a utility right-of-way then cross it and follow the loop trail (go right) beyond that which will border the Willimantic River for a while before turning away. In fall 2000 a male Golden-winged Warbler was seen in this area. Also check the edges in the vicinity of the parking area north of the road along the edge of the impoundment.
This is a working dairy farm with mixed cultivated fields, woodlands, and wetland habitats. The owners tolerate birding but all birders should understand this is private property and not abuse our limited privileges. There are occasional turnouts along the roads bordering the farm that afford adequate views. It is best not to wander too far from your car should it be necessary to move it. The large flocks of Canada Geese in winter often attract other (rarer) goose species. Birds using these fields in the daytime often roost at Willimantic Water Works along Rte. 195 in Mansfield (1/2 mile north of Rte.6). Raptors include the occasional Peregrine Falcon, Merlin, and Northern Harrier and in some winters a Rough-legged Hawk may visit. Sparrows flocks in fall/winter (sometimes Savannah Sparrows) are usually found along Stearns Road west of the dairy complex. Snow bunting and large Horned Lark flocks may be in the field in front of the dairy complex. Wild Turkey are abundant year-round and Black Vulture is now regular. Large flocks of blackbirds are sometimes seen in fall. This area is where two Swallow-tailed Kites were seen in 1991 and a Pink-footed Goose was discovered here in 1998. Look for migrant waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors, swallows, and many other species in the fields along Pleasant Valley road south of the dairy farm. A marsh on the SW side of Mansfield Ave. (south of Pleasant Valley Rd.) has warblers in spring and Wood Duck seasonally. Sandhill Crane and Black Tern have visited this area too.
A horse farm with mixed cultivated fields, woodlands, and wetland habitats is located on Wormwood Hill Rd. This area is private property along somewhat narrow roads. When parking take care not to block roads or field entrances. The land owners are generally birder friendly. You may be able to pull over safely north of Varga Road. Some Canada Geese may use these fields in winter. At Leander Pond, on the east side of Wormwood Hill Rd. south of Varga Road, you may find Belted Kingfisher, Double-crested Cormorant, Mute Swan, and wading birds. American Kestrel, Osprey, stopover Bald Eagle (rare) and Northern Harrier are sometimes seen. Common and Hooded Merganser, Ring-necked Duck and other duck species may be seen in migration. Knowlton Pond can be seen in two different locations (before and after the horse farm) on Wormwood Hill Road. Wood Duck breed here and are sometimes seen in either pond. Black-billed and Yellow-billed Cuckoo may be heard calling in breeding season in this area. Least Flycatcher has been found nesting along the road near the stream that flows into Leander pond. In fall look for large blackbird flocks that may include Rusty Blackbird. Orchard Oriole nested in 2003 adjacent to Leander Pond and in winter of 2005 a juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker visited this area. The brambles and field edge in the area are good for migrating warblers and sparrows. Resident Great Horned, Barred and Eastern Screech Owls may be heard at dusk. Northern Harrier, Indigo Bunting and Eastern Meadowlark are sometimes seen in the large field on Wormwood Hill Rd. close to Rte. 44. Access to the Joshua's Land Trust Church Farm Preserve can be found about 1/2 mile down Varga Road. A signed loop trail into the woods leads to good habitat for breeding Scarlet Tanagers in summer.
Close by on Knowlton Hill Road, there is a signed turnout for Knowlton Hill Preserve adjacent to a sloped open field that offers well marked trail access to the pond complex and surrounding woodland and edge from the west. Brown Thrasher may (rarely) be found in the thickets along the lawns adjacent to the field.
Pumpkin Hill Rd. - Ashford/Chaplin
The southern part of Pumpkin Hill Road almost to Route 198 is surrounded by State Forest where many interesting birds may be found in migration and breeding season including: Cerulean Warbler (many), Hooded Warbler (unusual), Prairie (pipeline), Chestnut-sided, cuckoos, and many others. Check the ponds for Wood Duck, Hooded Merganser, Least Flycatcher and many other songbirds.
At Garrison Park 1/4 mile south of Pumpkin Hill Rd. (turn into the Chaplin Town Hall) along Rte. 198 in Chaplin there is a large meadow with wetlands on the south and north sides. In spring look for Wood Duck, Eastern Bluebird, sometimes Bobolink and migrating wood warblers here. There is a path along the southern end of the field that takes you into the woods around the field. Do not walk in the field in breeding season! Look and listen for songbirds including cuckoos, warblers, Scarlet Tanager, Swamp Sparrow, and others.