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On a 15-minute walk Monday morning, Andy Griswold spotted about 10 different species of warblers feeding on insects, singing and taking a rest along their migration routes to nesting areas in the north.
"That's a lot in a short amount of time," said Griswold, director of the EcoTravel office for the Connecticut Audubon Society, located in Essex. During his walk at Viney Hill Brook Park in Essex, Griswold saw both migratory and resident warblers - a blue-winged warbler, a northern parula, a chestnut-sided warbler, a yellow warbler, a blackpoll warbler, a black-and-white warbler, a prairie warbler, an American redstart, an ovenbird and a common yellowthroat. He also spied a Baltimore oriole, a great-crested flycatcher, an indigo bunting and a scarlet tanager.
Because of the cool temperatures earlier this spring, the arrival of migrating songbirds to Connecticut is a bit behind, Griswold said, but now it's in full throttle. In southeastern Connecticut, he said, prime bird-viewing spots through the end of the month will be Nehantic State Forest in East Lyme and Lyme, Bluff Point State Park in Groton and Barn Island in Stonington.
"Between now and the third week of May, this is the time to be out looking for birds," he said.
Robert Dewire of Stonington leads bird walks and other nature education programs as owner of Nature Scapes. Starting before 8 Sunday morning, he led nine fellow birders through a section of Nehantic State Forest in East Lyme, then continued to the main part of the forest in Lyme.
"It was really busy," he said. "We saw 14 species of warblers, and heard a lot of different songs."
Their list included four cerulean warblers, four or five worm-eating warblers and two or three blue-winged warblers. This weekend, he's leading a group on a bird-watching excursion to East Rock Park in New Haven and Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison.
"These are the prime weekends for birding in Connecticut," he said.
Migrating birds are so abundant this time of year, almost anyone spending time in forests, parks or even their own yard will see or hear a transient feathered visitor from afar, said Frank Gallo, director of the Connecticut Audubon Coastal Center in Milford. At Audubon's center in Pomfret in the last few days, he noted, 21 species of warblers were recorded on a single day. Birds are most active between 5 and 7:30 a.m., he noted, so birders need to rise early for a successful outing.
"Bluff Point is fantastic, Nehantic State Forest is really good, and Devil's Hopyard (State Park) is also good," he said. "Anywhere along coastlines, major rivers and ridgelines are migratory corridors. About a third of the birds coming through now will nest in Connecticut, and the rest will continue into northern New England and Canada."
For information on birding trips and other excursions offered by Connecticut Audubon Society, call (860) 767-0660.