Although Connecticut is a small state, it is rich in birdlife with more than 430 different bird species to spot. If you are a bird lover with a checklist of bird species that you have seen in Connecticut, and want to add seabirds to your list, hop on board the CJ Toth Quest, a 49 passenger ferryboat with the Seaport Association on Sunday, June 9, June 16 or June 23 for the annual Bird Watching Cruise that runs from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. only in June.
Each cruise is exciting and different because you can never anticipate what will fly your way. The final destination of this three-hour cruise is Sheffield Island, a noted birding hotspot. The Stewart B. McKinney Wildlife Refuge that is part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is on part of Sheffield Island and offers a crucial waterbird and nesting ground. It is an excellent place to spot birds because it offers many different habitats in a relatively small area from woods and grasslands to the beach. The trees on Sheffield Island attract herons and egrets, making the island an invaluable place to view and learn about wildlife and birds. There is also a small population of herring and great black-backed gulls that nest along Sheffield’s rocky shoreline.
This cruise is ideal for novice and experienced birders so whether you are looking through your binoculars for the first time or for the hundred thousandth time this excursion never disappoints. Best of all, these three birding cruises are guided by an experienced and avid birder, Preston Lust who will help participants spot and identify seabirds. Preston is an officer in the Connecticut Young Birders Club who has a special interest in nocturnal migration and has conducted research on nocturnal flight calls for the last three years. He has also participated in bird-watching competitions such as the World Series of Birding and the Megabowl of Birding (the latter of which placed first place for three years straight!).
Among the types of birds, you may see on these National Geographic styled cruises are nest sites and nesting colonies of ospreys and long-legged egrets with their graceful S-curved necks and long dagger-like bills. On this three-hour cruise, passengers may also spot American oystercatchers, herons, terns, gulls, cormorants, and many others.
The importance of Sheffield Island to wildlife, especially migratory birds is enormous, and these special bird cruises give passengers the chance to spot these magnificent creatures on and off the water at an awe-inspiring and safe distance with a knowledgeable guide.
The bird watching cruise will depart at 8:00 a.m. on Sunday, June 9, 16 and 23. Passengers are asked to arrive 30 minutes prior to departure. The boat leaves from the Seaport Dock at 4 North Water Street adjacent to the Stroffolino Bridge at the corner of Washington and Water Streets in South Norwalk. Parking is available at the Norwalk Maritime Aquarium Parking Lot. Tickets are Adult: $28, Members and seniors: $23, Children 4-12 years old: $16 and Children 3 and under are $7. For Reservations contact 203-838-9444. On the day of the cruise contact the dock phone at 203-838-2898. For Tickets click here.