Is The “Important Bird Areas Plan” Set To Spread Its Wings at Greenwich Point Park?



The Friends of Greenwich Point in conjunction with representatives from Audubon CT and Davison Environmental presented the first draft of the Important Bird Areas (IBA) program revealed in a meeting last week at First Church, Old Greenwich.

The purpose of the IBA program is to identify, secure and maintain valuable habitats for a variety of migrating, roosting and breeding birds which take advantage of the rich landscape Greenwich Point Park (GPP) has to offer.

Greenwich Point Park is one of 27 publicly recognized places in the state that provide optimum conditions for birds to thrive and survive, due to its rich woodland and tidal areas.

“Greenwich Point Park is an oasis; a natural place for birds to stop. It has Coastal forest, tidal ponds and marshes and the rocky shoreline.” Carrie Folsom-O’Keefe, Audubon, CT

Mapping It Out

The park’s peninsular geography boasts a readily-available habitat and is an important migrant stopover for as many as 266 species of birds, some on the state and global endangered list.

Maps of the park were presented indicating 62% marked-off as important bird habitats. The Plan’s goals include a variety of measures which, if implemented, will help maintain a healthy, safe environment for migratory birds by enhancing specific areas, curbing others, and limiting human interference.

GP Rocky Shoreline

IBA Plan Goals:

  • Develop an Owl Roost. The plan calls for planting a cluster of white pines to create the density required for owl-roosting.
  • The planting of bird gardens. The plan suggests planting shrub clusters in certain areas of the park. These clusters will contain seeds, berries and cover for migrating birds.
  • Control invasive monocultures like mugwort and porcelain berry that threaten the habitat.
  • Convert current woodland areas to shrubland. Since many species favor meadowland, the plan earmarks development for more passive, shrubby areas. This would entail eliminating some wooded parts of the park.
  • Expand managed conservation area by limiting activities to reduce human disturbance.
  • Areas of the park once considered ‘high intensity recreation’ areas could be downgraded to ‘passive recreation’ zones.

“At low tide it is popular for people to explore. Repeated foot traffic will wipe out the vegetation, leading to soil to erode.” Eric Davison, Davison Environmental

Limit Threat of Human Disturbance

The idea of closing off the mud trail to human traffic was discussed. The mud trail, popular with walkers, is bordered by watery marsh. If left undisturbed by human presence, it would become significantly more vital for bird development.

The mud path at Greenwich Point Park; a valuable asset for bird development? Credit: R. Zivic

Mr. Davison added that the ideal plan would be one that strikes the perfect balance for all who use the park.

Also posing a threat are Super Storms like Sandy that have caused dune blowouts which deposit sand into tidal marshes and have eaten away at vegetation areas. The park’s armored rock walls, constructed to secure the shoreline, actually limit bird habitat, since they provide no vegetation.

The IBA Plan is not a ‘Town Plan” but one developed by consultants for town consideration. It will require the support and sign-off by the Town’s Conservation Commission and Park and Rec Departments, with opportunity for community comment.


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