Birds – and Birders – Flock to the Former Country Club
Like many outdoor pastimes, birdwatching has recently experienced a sharp increase in popularity due to the pandemic. One estimate puts the number of active “birders” in the United States at over 15 million in 2020. Locally, members of several organizations for bird enthusiasts have discovered that the former Country Club of Woodbridge (CCW) property on Woodfield Road is a birder’s paradise. A member of the Menunktauck Audubon Society recently described the old golf course as “wondrous habitat for a wide range of resident and migrating birds, plus - the native plant bonanza on display there is unparalleled in this area. I have never seen more common milkweed, golden rod, or aster in one place.”
The former golf course is listed on eBird – a website managed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology where birders from all over the world enter their sightings -- as a “Hotspot.” To date, 64 species have been recorded at this Hotspot including the American Kestrel, a type of falcon that has been in long-term decline due to loss of habitat. Once abundant in the Northeast, the Kestrel is currently listed as a “State Species of Special Concern” in Connecticut.
During the recent fall migration, one Woodbridge birder observed 50 different bird species during one 3-hour period at the former country club. This is an extremely impressive number of species for one day of fall migration.
Last November, at the invitation of the Woodbridge Land Trust and Woodbridge Park Association, staffers from Audubon Connecticut conducted an assessment of the CCW Property designed to:
- Determine what birds are currently utilizing the habitats on the property
- Describe and assess current forest bird habitat conditions on the property
- Make recommendations for protecting and improving habitat for a suite of priority forest birds
The Audubon report points out that this property is part of a corridor of undeveloped land that connects the Regional Water Authority’s Maltby Lakes Recreation Area, the Yale Golf Course, and surrounding woodlands to the south with West Rock Ridge State Park and other RWA lands to the north. This corridor has immense value for habitat connectivity within the surrounding urban landscape. In addition, the property also offers an important component of shrubland habitat, which is quite rare in Connecticut and necessary for certain bird species and for pollinators.
This is an opinion not necessarily endorsed by the Woodbridge Town News.