BARN ISLAND WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA
Sometimes, a hike can be for the birds. Quite literally. And my trip to Barn Island in Stonington proves my point.
With the promise of a warm day ahead, my friend Jenn joined me on this shoreline visit. At a little more than 1,000 acres, Barn Island is the largest coastal wildlife management area in the state. And, within its borders, wildlife flourishes.
The habitat is a mix of tidal marshes, forest, and grasslands; uniquely suited for the abundant number of bird species that come here – including at least nine during breeding season alone.
The preserve is a quiet space peppered by the sounds and sightings of birds of all types. Sometimes, we’d spot a random hawk, other times a sparrow flitting by. We eyed a few brightly-colored blue birds that we could not identify. But, the sight of them made us pause in awe.
And that’s how it went for most of our hike. In tidal waters, we glimpsed crabs and fish in a feeding frenzy. In the forest, dozens of little woodland creatures rushed by us seeking cover. And, of course, those ever-present birds – swooping through trees and twittering among fields of brush.
Birders aren’t the only ones drawn to this part of the shore. We came across plenty of people taking morning strolls or walking their dogs. But, be aware, this is also a popular place for hunters.
But, on this day, we had no worries. It was all about what we could experience - the stillness of the marsh, the smell of the salty water, the solitude of the forest, and the majestic sweep of a bird’s wings.
Directions: Take CT-9 S to I-95 N. Follow signs for New London/Providence. Take exit 91 for CT-234 toward No. Main St./Stonington/Borough. Continue onto CT-234 E. Turn right onto Farmholme Rd. Turn right onto US-1 S. Turn left onto Greenhaven Rd. Turn right onto Palmer Neck Rd.
Trail Difficulty: Easy
Trail Distance: 4 miles