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Duck Island Natural Area Preserve
Duck Island is a 5.6-acre state-owned island that supports the largest egret rookery in eastern Connecticut. Accessible by boat for only half the year, it is a rare undeveloped island along Connecticut’s shoreline. Wading birds nest on Duck Island every summer, and its habitat for the state-threatened snowy and great egret is one reason why it is recognized as an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society. It is often considered in connection with Menunketesuck Island, a larger nearby island that supports rare birdlife in conjunction with passive recreation activities.
Audubon CT: Menunketesuck
This Audubon web page describes why Duck Island and its neighboring Menunketesuck Island are a combined Audubon Important Bird Area.
Courant: “Once a Home for Summer Fun, Island Now a Refuge for the Birds”
This news article from 1999 details the history of Duck Island and the process of converting it into a wildlife refuge, told from the man who last purchased the island.
Hidden History of Middlesex County, Connecticut
Check out this book by Kathleen and Robert Hubbard about Middlesex County history. You can purchase the book here, or find an online version at this link. Be on the lookout for mentions of the Westbrook Barrier Islands!
Duck Island is connected to the mainland via a gravel and shell bar that is difficult to cross even during low tide. As a result, transport to the island is typically via boat or kayak. The gravel and shell bars are excellent sites for shorebird viewing during spring and fall migration. The island is closed to the public from April through September, during the nesting season.
Middle Beach is a small beach located in a suburban neighborhood. From there, you can walk or paddle out to Salt Island, a small barrier island 500 feet from the coast.
Salt Meadow at the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge
Here you will find trails, an observation platform, facilities, and even an environmental education center. Before you go, check out the map.