Sheffield Island, Norwalk, CT

This morning, thanks to special access obtained by friend Larry Flynn, Greg Hanisek, Larry and I birded Sheffield Island in Norwalk, CT. The southwestern-most of the Norwalk Islands, I have wanted to bird here for quite some time, but access is limited. Sheffield is a small island, .6 mi x .2 mi at its widest points. Despite their small size, these islands seem to pack habitat that should be attractive to migrants. Still, without previously setting foot on land, it was difficult to be sure until today.

The island holds a beautiful mix of habitat. It contains tall deciduous trees, a few small cedars, thickets, shrubs, tall grasses and weeds, a tiny freshwater gully with Phragmites, a couple slivers of saltmarsh, pebble/shell beach, and a small lawn by the lighthouse.

erosion caused by Hurricane Sandy

This corner, sheltered from the NE breeze and lit by the morning sun, was particularly active

One of two bits of saltmarsh

The habitat is there. The question is, will it deliver? In three hours today, which was about all we needed to cover pretty much the entire island, we tallied a satisfying 50+ species, the best being a YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT which Larry had while Greg and I were off wandering. There were many sparrows to sort through, including gobs of Swamps. Among the Swamps was a single LINCOLN'S SPARROW, and there were two NELSON'S SPARROWS in the Spartina. Warblers were only present in ones and twos, but we did tally seven species (not including Chat). Overall, we were pleased.

"Interior" Nelson's Sparrow

Seeing the habitat, recording a goodie like Yellow-breasted Chat, and running into a few nice pockets of birds give me hope that this place has real potential. It is an island after all. My hope is to get out there at least once more this year, perhaps during rarity season later this autumn.

departing Sheffield Island
 - Nick


  1. One of your best posts IMO. Posts like this where you go over a birding potential of a location are some of your best work. The Pleasure Beach discussion was another good one.


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