Westport's Sherwood Island is a birding 'hotspot'

WESTPORT — The renowned expertise of one local birder recently helped draw some amateur ornithologists to Sherwood Island State Park for a sighting expedition.

Tina Green, of Westport, an active member of the 107-year-old New Haven Bird Club, led a walk around the park in the misty morning last week, pointing out some of the better nesting and gathering spots, as well as rare birds for the region and season.

“It’s the number one eBird hotspot in the state,” Green said, noting that the various habitats— including shorelines, fields, marshes and woods —invite a veritable sanctuary of birds in all shapes and sizes.

While the gathering was limited to 10 people for safety’s sake, the group represented a wealth of birding knowledge itself, as well as passion. Armed with siting scope, cameras and phones to keep tabs on their finds with the app eBird, folks toured the park with sharp eyes for the animals.

“I like it because it’s so close and it’s very diverse,” said Katie Rice, of Bethel, who hailed Green’s ability as a birding guide. “She’s a wonderful leader and I’m here taking advantage of her expertise.”

Part of that is a remarkable ability to spot animals that others might miss, as well as identifying the more minute strains of even common birds, such as sparrows.

“Here’s a vesper sparrow right here,” Green told the group during the walk.

“We should see plenty of goldfinches at the feeders,” she said. “And there goes a pipette. I just saw it. It’s a single pipette flying away.”

Pipettes and plovers, pigeons, chickadees and a red-breasted nuthatch were among the finds, with a multitude more in this birding hotspot just waiting to be seen between branch and beach.

For more information, visit the club’s website at www.newhavenbirdclub.org.