On the way into the meadows, scan along the Connecticut River near the ferry landing where waterfowl, cormorants, herons, and gulls are regularly observed in spring and fall. Bald Eagles may be encountered here any time of the year as they nest and winter in the area. After passing the bar-gate and crossing Goff Brook (0.2 mile) the meadows opens to field habitat on the right and then the B Lane (private road) veers off to the left (0.2 mile). This is one place to park your vehicle well off the road to view several fields on both sides of the road. Look for the Buff- breasted, Baird’s, and Pectoral Sandpipers, and American Golden Plovers on the sod or the recently furrowed fields. Other shorebirds may occur on the same fields, especially if rain pools
Cautionary Note: Rocky Hill Meadows is an active farming operation. Large farm vehicles and equipment regularly move between fields and travel along the roadways. To complicate matters, some stretches of Great Meadow Road and North Meadow Lane are narrow. Therefore, it’s important to be courteous and always park well off the road to allow for the unrestricted movement of these farm vehicles. Don’t block any lanes or gates unless you can quickly move the vehicle.
After checking the fields near B Lane continue along Great Meadow Road to where the road makes a sharp left turn (0.2 mile) followed by a sudden right turn at C Lane. Normally there is enough room to park the car somewhere in this section. This location is surrounded by fields and provides a fine vantage point to survey for birds. Afterward, continue along the road to the “T” intersection (0.3 mile) where Great Meadow Road turns left and a bar-gate is on the right. Park on the right near, but not blocking, the bar-gate, and scan the surrounding fields. Several fields containing sod and crops are visible from this location and two wet depressions near the roadway commonly attract shorebirds.
Scan the sod and furrowed fields for the Buff-breasted, Baird’s, and Pectoral Sandpipers, and American Golden Plovers; closely check areas where farmers are harvesting sod as several of these species seem to prefer such areas. Upland Sandpiper has occurred several times, always in August. Shorebirds regularly observed include Killdeers, Black-bellied Plovers, Least, Semipalmated, and Spotted Sandpipers, and both yellowlegs. Other less common species include Semipalmated Plover, Short-billed Dowitcher, Stilt Sandpiper, White-rumped Sandpiper, Solitary Sandpiper, and Dunlin. These species are frequently associated with rain pools and/or puddles formed from irrigation runoff. A Hudsonian Godwit was recorded here in October 2005, an unusual inland sighting.
From the “T” intersection continue along Great Meadow Road, which is now bearing north, to North Meadow Lane (0.6 mile). Approximately mid-way between the “T” and North Meadow Lane is another location—near the woodlot on the left-- to park and check the nearby fields. Two additional spots to search for specialty shorebirds here are the sod and furrowed fields east