SITE GUIDE: ROCKY HILL MEADOWS
Buzz Devine and Dwight G. Smith
Rocky Hill Meadows is an expansive area of agricultural and wetland habitat situated along the Connecticut River east of the Town’s center and immediately north of the Rocky Hill- Glastonbury Ferry Landing. Habitats within this flood plain consist of approximately 850 acres of agricultural land, mainly sod, corn, bean, and hay fields; riverine woodlands, and patches of shrub swamps. The Connecticut River forms the eastern border of the meadows and a thin sliver of the agricultural land juts north parallel to the river into the town of Wethersfield. Besides farming, the meadows complex contains a motorcycle motocross and model airplane flying field. The motocross area is on private property along North Meadow Lane, while the model airplane flying area rotates regularly between several fields on Great Meadow Road depending on current farming practices
Within the past decade the meadows has become a prime inland shorebird site and an important late summer and fall birding locale for Connecticut’s birding community. The main attraction is the diverse assortment of “grassland” shorebirds found within the extensive sod and agricultural fields. Specialties of the meadows include American Golden Plover, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Baird’s Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, the occasional Upland Sandpiper, and a variety of other shorebirds. Spring (May) migration does not bring the same diversity and abundance of shorebirds as the late summer-fall (August – October) migration. Fall songbird migration (September into November) also brings an excellent assortment of sparrows including the Connecticut endangered Vesper Sparrow as well as Horned Lark and American Pipit. The Vesper Sparrow is not known to nest here, however. Bald Eagle breeds locally, while Bobolink and Savannah Sparrow are migrants and nest sporadically from year to year depending on the acreage devoted to hay and/or other grassland vegetation. Short-eared Owl and Snow Bunting have occurred during the winter months.
The Rocky Hill-Glastonbury Ferry is a State Historical Landmark and is the oldest running ferry service in the United States, operating since 1655. Ferry service is offered from May 1 through October 31, and the operating hours are Tuesday – Friday, 07:00 – 18:45 hrs and from 10:30 – 17:00 hrs on Saturday and Sunday. No ferry service is available on Monday. A fee of $3.00 is charged per vehicle, including passengers, and $1.00 for pedestrians and bicycle riders. Near the ferry landing is a snack bar and also the town-owned Ferry Park --with picnic area-- thus providing a relaxing location to eat or rest while visiting the meadows.