Saturday, June 4, 2011 Stamford's Best Kept Secret
It was recently brought to my attention that everyone doesn't know about the best thing in Stamford. Here's approximately how it went down...
Me - "I was at the bird preserve the other day..."
Someone else - "Stamford has a bird preserve?"
At Cove Island Park, past the ice rink and behind the softball field, you will find the prettiest spot in town. It used to be the "stump dump" - littered with tree stumps and washing machines. But it's been cleaned up and redesigned to encourage wildlife to live wild and to give people like me something to love about Stamford.
Before you even enter the sanctuary you'll be treated to a beautiful view of Long Island Sound. On a clear day you can see the island, and if you're lucky you'll see a crane or an egret or a cormorant or a beaver - all of them almost oblivious to our existence. I've run into the beaver on many occasions. If you stand still he won't even notice you as he munches away on the grass.
Be quiet as you enter the path. I scared away a giant blue heron once as I entered. The sight of him flying made me think I was in prehistoric times and he was a pterodactyl. It was an awe inspiring moment, watching his huge wing span flapping him up, up and away.
Right past the gate is a little covered structure with a blackboard and cork board. You can write your sightings on the board as you leave and sometimes it has information on upcoming events. They do a lot of bird walks. I've never actually been on one, but I bet it's an informative event. They put up a lot of information on the cork board - what kinds of wildlife you're likely to see in that particular season. Many of the pictures were shot right there, so it's kind of exciting to think of what you might possibly run into.
Ate Turkey (dot) nom? Could that be our friends over at OmNomCt? And Redd Foxx? What's he doing at the bird preserve?
I've seen all kinds of wildlife down there - turkeys, deer, rabbits, ducks, geese, birds I wouldn't know how to identify and even two red foxes!
Oh, yes. I went down one day after a rain storm. As I silently wandered around the path I suddenly heard a gruff bark and saw an orange puff run off into the brush. I was a little scared, but I figured it would want to stay away from me, so I continued down the path. I saw him looking at me through the tall grass, and just as my mind was starting to form plan B I encountered another fox. This one looked right at me, barked and started to come after me! I turned and ran like I haven't ran since elementary school field day - only this time there was no consolation ribbon. I kept turning around to see if they were coming after me - my mind racing faster than my legs, wondering if foxes attack in pairs. I got away safely, and my Facebook friends got a million laughs at my expense, but I'll admit I'm still skittish when I walk that section of path. I think they were parents protecting their young, not rabid foxes, but it's still not something I want to endure...a fox attack.
But don't let that scare you away! There is so much beauty to appreciate down there. Take a friend with you - strength in numbers, know what I'm saying?
This is my favorite tree. I think it's a cottonwood, but I'm not sure. I love to stand in front of it and listen to the sound it makes as the wind rustles the leaves. I could stand there forever.
Now that beach season is here you need a sticker to park at Cove Beach. But there is a bus that stops right at the entrance to the park, so for $1.25 you can get dropped off. And if you want to park in the neighborhood and walk down there is a path through the woods, directly across from Albin Rd. That's a fun hike. The path is littered with bottles and fallen trees, but there are actually some beautiful spots there in the woods that you will never believe exist in Stamford without seeing them with your own eyes.
However you do it, get there. You won't be sorry. Unless you get attacked by Redd Foxx.