This June Enjoy the Beauty of Birds on Long Island Sound with the Seaport Association

Bird Cruises are one of the most popular excursions operated by the Seaport Association in Norwalk. Although Connecticut is a small state, it is rich in birdlife with more than 430 different bird species to spot. If you are a veteran or novice birding enthusiast and want to add seabirds to your list, hop on board the C.J. Toth, a 49- passenger vessel with the Seaport Association on Saturday, June 11 and Sunday, June 12, and Saturday, June 25, and Sunday, June 26 from 8 am to 10:30 a.m. for the June Bird Cruises that welcomes adults as well as children.

An avian adventure on Long Island Sound in June provides a unique opportunity to see birds in their natural habitat. Every cruise is different because you never know what will fly your way, making this excursion an adventure in itself. The bird cruise in June offers different things to see than the bird cruises offered in May. June is the month when many birds breed making it the perfect time to look for birds where they nest. On this guided tour escorted by Will Schneck, a member of the esteemed Connecticut Young Birders Club, passengers will learn about local bird behavior and biology and, most importantly how to spot them. “One thing that we will be looking for is birds that are nesting, raising their families, resting, and feeding,” says Schneck. Among the types of birds, you may see on this eco-adventure cruise are nest sites and nest colonies of ospreys, and long-legged egrets with their graceful S-curved necks and long dagger-like bills, as well as playful American oystercatchers, herons, terns, gulls, and cormorants to name a few.

Another special feature of this cruise is the chance to spot birds at the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge on Sheffield Island. Here you will see a variety of habitats that support nesting and wading birds. This spot is known for its small population of herring and great black-backed gulls that nest along Sheffield Island’s rocky shoreline. The importance of the Norwalk Islands to wildlife, especially migratory birds is enormous, and the special Bird Cruises hosted by the Norwalk Seaport Association give nature enthusiasts, adults, and children alike, the chance to spot these magnificent seabirds up close with the added benefit of a knowledgeable guide.

Bird Cruise Details
Passengers are asked to arrive 30 minutes prior to the 8 a.m. departure. The vessel leaves from the Seaport Dock that is adjacent to the Stroffolino Bridge at the corner of Washington and Water Streets in South Norwalk. Parking is available at the adjacent lot or at the Norwalk Parking Garage. Tickets are available online in advance by clicking here and are $25 in addition to a small ticketing fee. The Seaport Association advises reserving your Bird Cruise early because these popular excursions sell out. Make sure you include your email when reserving your ticket. If the tour is canceled due to inclement weather the Norwalk Seaport Association will contact you via your email.

Before embarking on this cruise, be sure to pack sunscreen, your camera, binoculars, water and snacks, and your sense of adventure!

About the Norwalk Seaport Association

The Norwalk Seaport Association was founded in 1978 by a group of local citizens who had the vision to revitalize South Norwalk and preserve Norwalk’s maritime heritage. The Seaport Association offers a cultural, environmental, and historical journey to the Norwalk Islands. The Sheffield Island Lighthouse and the Light Keeper’s Cottage provide a unique historical and educational venue that strives to increase awareness, appreciation, and consideration for the environment and how the preservation of historic buildings contributes to our quality of life. The combination of the Lighthouse and the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge offers an unparalleled opportunity to educate children of all ages and adults about the importance of preserving Long Island Sound, our environment, and our maritime heritage.

Trails of the Norwalk River Valley and Vicinity

The Norwalk River Watershed Association has launched “Trails of the Norwalk River Valley and Vicinity,” which includes hiking trail maps of the entire watershed region, including Norwalk, Wilton, Ridgefield, Weston and Redding.

Both the map and David Park’s “Kayaking In and Around the Norwalk Islands” book are available through the NRWA website at http://norwalkriver.org/. Proceeds from each purchase go toward funding NRWA efforts to protect the Norwalk River watershed.

The map is available in paper for $5 and in water-resistant outdoor quality for $8 (100% of proceeds support NRWA). The book is available for $10 (40% of proceeds go to NRWA).

The maps were produced by NRWA and printed with funds from a grant from Norwalk outdoor gear and apparel store Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI). The map charts existing and proposed trails from Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk north to Danbury throughout the watershed and surrounding vicinity.

Kayaking in and around the Norwalk Islands by NRWA board member and kayak enthusiast, David Park, is packed with superb information on kayaking the Norwalk area.

The Norwalk Islands, located one mile off shore, include islands open to the public for camping and exploring, a few being part of the Stewart McKinney Wildlife Refuge. The guidebook, complete with color photos, includes information on three local rivers, complete descriptions of all the islands including local wildlife, history, and points of interest such as the Historic Sheffield Island Lighthouse and other Norwalk lighthouses as well as other useful tidbits such as where to launch, coastal and off-shore paddling information, and safety guidelines.

For information on free programs, research, volunteer opportunities, and membership, contact http://www.norwalkriver.org.

About the Norwalk Watershed Association

The Norwalk River Watershed Association, incorporated in 1996, is a not-for-profit membership organization whose mission is to improve the water quality and aesthetic value of the 40,000-acre Norwalk River watershed; to encourage recreational use of the existing trails and open space; and to promote research, education, cooperation, and action on the part of the stakeholders in the seven watershed towns in CT (Ridgefield, Redding, Wilton, New Canaan, Weston, and Norwalk) and NY (Lewisboro).

Antiques Appraisal Weekend and a Vintage & Designer Jewelry Sale at the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum


The Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum will host its fourth annual Antiques Appraisal Weekend and launch its first Vintage & Designer Jewelry Sale on November 5 and 6, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., at 295 West Avenue, Norwalk, Conn.

In these harsh, recessionary times, most of us could benefit from discovering that we own a priceless family heirloom or a masterpiece picked up for just a few dollars at a garage sale, as it often happens on such popular TV shows as Pawn Stars or the Antiques Roadshow. Evaluating and selling antiques and collectibles however, is not just reality TV at its best, but a tangible opportunity for anyone living in the tri-State area.

On November 5 and 6 visitors to the Antiques Appraisal Weekend will find an outstanding line-up of experts that will be on hand for two full days to evaluate a wide range of antiques and collectibles including jewelry, fine art, furniture, books and documents, coins, pottery and China, silverware, sports memorabilia, toys, and more.

Appraisals are $15 for a small or medium size item and $40 for large antiques such as furniture, (maximum of three appraisals). One free $15 appraisal will be available for anyone who will become a new member of the Mansion, (an annual individual membership is $35). Jewelry and accessories start at $25. Antiques Appraisals proceeds will benefit the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum.

This year, this popular event will share the limelight with a Vintage & Designer Jewelry Sale, kicking off the Holiday Season with the Mansion as a ‘must go to’ shopping destination. The sale will feature a select group of sought-after designers and offer vintage and designer jewelry as well as one-of-a-kind accessories.

For a complete list of appraisers, jewelry designers, and information on their schedule at the Mansion, please visit www.lockwoodmathewsmansion.com. The museum will be closed for tours on both days of appraisals on November 5th and 6th.

During the Antiques Appraisal Weekend the Museum Shop will be open to the public and offer an eclectic array of educational gifts and treasures to reflect the holiday spirit as well as the Museum’s featured exhibits. Victorian-style doll books and reproduction antique dolls will be on sale with other popular seasonal items such as ornaments, wreaths, gift baskets, tabletop decorations, children’s gifts, jewelry, and more. All proceeds will benefit the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum.

Ready for Halloween? A Haunting at Mill Hill in Norwalk October 15 and 22

As the sun sets, on Mill Hill in Norwalk, the spirits come out to play. Take a lantern-light tour through the historic Mill Hill graveyard and hear chilling tales from the spirits of Norwalk’s past on Saturdays, October 15 and 22 (rain or shine). Tours are scheduled at 5:30 p.m., 7:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Each tour will be followed by refreshments in the old one-room schoolhouse. This pre-Halloween event is organized by the Norwalk Historical Society.

During “A Haunting at Mill Hill,” participants will hear stories of murder, death, destruction and more while they meet renegade Tory Easias Bouton, Chester, the haunted Civil War statue, and other entities from Norwalk’s colorful history. The cemetery is located at 2 East Wall Street, Norwalk, CT 06851.

Space for each tour is limited so reservations are recommended (203-846-0525). Advance tickets are $10 for adults/teens and $6 for children ages 8-12 (not recommended for children younger than 8). Tickets at the door are $12 for adults/teens and $8 for children. There is a $2 discount for Norwalk Historical Society members. For more information visit http://norwalkhistoricalsociety.org.

About Mill Hill Historic Park

The Mill Hill Historic Park consists of three historical buildings and the third oldest Burying Ground in Norwalk.

The Burying Ground on Mill Hill dates to 1767 and was originally called Whitney’s Hill after a miller that opened a mill on the site. A list of those buried in the Mill Hill Burying Ground was recorded in 1924 and consisted of the names on the headstones that were clearly readable. Not all that are buried on Mill Hill are accounted for because in the Colonial Period less than a third of the burials were marked with an inscribed headstone. Some of the time, a simple rock was used.

Several notable buildings are located on the grounds of the Mill Hill complex. The federally styled brick Norwalk Town House dates to 1835 and served a multiple of purposes over the years as a gathering place for special groups.

The Law Office of Governor Fitch is also on the grounds. Thomas Fitch was Governor of the Colony of Connecticut from 1754 to 1766. Restored in 1971, the small colonial style building I saw on the grounds was reconstructed as a colonial law office. Originally, it was part of the kitchen wing of Governor Fitch’s house. I was told that it was the only portion of the house that survived the burning of Norwalk by the British on July 11, 1779. The house that stands on Mill Hill today, was once located in East Norwalk. It was moved in 1956 because it was in the construction path of the Interstate 95.

The red-clapboarded building known as the Downtown District School House is also located in the complex and was built in 1826. The building was used as a school until 1871. The British destroyed the original school, and the present schoolhouse was built on the lines of the first utilizing its original foundation.

Norwalk Seaport Association Stages Murder Mystery to Preserve Historic Sheffield Island Lighthouse October 21!


Who done it? Find out as Norwalk Seaport Association (NSA) hosts a murder mystery dinner, “Double Trouble,” to benefit Sheffield Island lighthouse. The event will be held at the Norwalk Inn and Conference Center on Friday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m., and includes hors d’oeuvres and dinner while guests solve an exciting and entertaining mystery.

“It’s great fun to stage this murder mystery in support of our ongoing efforts to demystify the historic beauty and magnificence of our Sheffield Island lighthouse,” said Tom Shrum, president of the non-profit, volunteer-run NSA. “There’s no better way for southern Connecticut residents to show our pride in our local maritime heritage.”

This is the second event this year to benefit the lighthouse. In March, a sold-out crowd at NSA’s Light Keeper’s Gala collectively donated a record $49,000 for the environmental organization’s stewardship of the lighthouse.

Reservations to the murder mystery are required. Tickets are $75 per person for Seaport Association members and $85 for non-members, and can be purchased online at www.seaport.org.

About Norwalk Seaport Association

Norwalk Seaport Association was established in 1978 and stewards the Sheffield Island lighthouse, which celebrates 142 years as the jewel in Long Island Sound. During the summer, its C.J Toth ferryboat takes visitors to Sheffield Island for tours of the historic lighthouse, special events and enjoyment of a walking trail through the Stewart B. McKinney Wildlife Refuge.

NSA provides environmental education programs that use Sheffield Island and offers diverse special events and community projects, including the annual NSA Oyster Festival, now in its 34th year. This event attracts up to 50,000 people during three days in early September and provides $200,000 in fundraising opportunities for more than 20 other local non-profit organizations. In addition, the Seaport Association helped create Norwalk’s Coastal Area Management Plan; establish the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk; and revitalize historic South Norwalk.

More information can be found at www.seaport.org.

Sunset/Moonrise Kayak Paddle Around Norwalk Islands Sept. 12

Experienced and novice kayakers are invited to join Friends of the Norwalk Islands for a sunset/moonrise paddle that coincides with the mid-autumn festival on the Chinese calendar.

A guided Kayak Paddle to the Norwalk Islands will launch at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, September 12, from The Small Boat Shop dock at 144 Water Street. Children (age 10 and above and weighing at least 100 pounds) are welcome to participate. Water safety and basic paddling techniques will be discussed before the tour to the Norwalk Islands begins.

“If you have never seen the sunset from a kayak or paddled beneath the moon, this trip is for you,” says Susan Snider, president, Friends of the Norwalk Islands. “After launching, we’ll head down the Norwalk River into Long Island Sound to enjoy the beauty of the Norwalk Islands and the night sky. We’ll return to the dock by 8:00 p.m.”

The Small Boat Shop is sponsoring several kayak paddles to support the Friends of the Norwalk Islands. The event fee of $85 includes a kayak, paddles, life jacket and $25 donation to Friends of the Norwalk Islands. Reservations are required by calling Friends of the Norwalk Islands (203-849-8341) or The Small Boat Shop (203-854-5223) or visit http://www.TheSmallBoatShop.com/kayaktours2011.html.

Led by Snider, the Friends of the Norwalk Islands has partnered with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to conserve, protect and enhance the environmental, recreational and cultural significance of the Norwalk Islands and to promote the National Wildlife Refuge System. The Norwalk Islands of Chimon, Peach, Goose and Sheffield are part of the Norwalk Islands unit of the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge. To learn more, visit the web site at http://www.FriendsoftheNorwalkIslands.org.

Photo Credit: Dick Ramsey