Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Great Weekend On Selden Island

Selden Island, the biggest island in the Connecticut River and the largest island in Connecticut waters, has got to be our most under-used state park and one of our most spectacular. Each year we schedule at least a couple of trips to the island, always accompanied by a botanist, ornithologist, and historian; always well attended, this time by more than 35 people.

The island once was home to a substantial quarry that provided cobble stones to east coast cities; much evidence of the operation still visible. There are some beautiful stone structures from the farm that called the island home. The best part in my mind are the countless nooks-and-crannies, the pockets of habitat rarely visited by birders or botanists. There is a laurel grove where the the shrubs tower to over twelve feet, a place where tall oaks and beeches are surrounded by an open understory of grass and fern, and acres of pristine cattail marsh, echoing the calls of Common Yellowthroat, Yellow Warbler, and Marsh Wren. Shaded rock faces and hillsides host Worm-eating Warbler, Veery, Wood Thrush, five vireo species, and countless American Redstarts.

Our experience with the group on Saturday was so inspiring, three of us returned to the island on Sunday to continue our explorations. Lady Slipper, Bird's Foot Violet, many large and flower covered azaleas, and a mystery oak kept us tuned to the plants. A brightly plumaged Bay-breasted Warber and a wonderfully cooperative Orchard Oriole graced us with appearances. What a special place!

If you are interested in our providing a private tour of the island, give me a call and we can arrange for the boat and guides. Don't miss this experience! How about a special birthday surprise for your outdoor enthusiast?