Stratford (Fairfield County)
Status: Globally Important IBA
Ownership: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Town of Stratford, Sikorsky Memorial Airport/ City of Bridgeport, private
Size: 699 acres
Secondary—Non-tidal freshwater marsh (near airport), pond/lake (Frash Pond), estuary, marine
Primary—Nature and wildlife conservation, undeveloped
Secondary—Hunting/fishing, suburban/residential, urban/ commercial
Serious—Introduced animals, predators, habitat conversion, development, disturbance to birds or habitat, marine sand and gravel mining
Minor—Invasive or non-native plants, pollution
Site Description: The Great Meadows estuarine system, located on Stratford's West Shore, East of Bridgeport Harbor, is comprised of barrier beach, ditched and unditched saltmarsh, filled wetland, and upland. About 60 percent of the marsh is low marsh dominated by saltmarsh cordgrass, and 40 percent is high marsh with saltmeadow cordgrass. The area also has several small fresh or brackish ponds, salt pannes, and tidal mud and sand flats. The area contains the largest block of unditched saltmarsh (about 225 acres) left in Connecticut. The barrier beach, Long Beach, is part of a 2-mile coastal barrier beach system that is migrating landward. This beach contains sand dunes, tidal wetlands, and sand flats. Five rare plant species are found along this beach.
Birds: Great Meadows Marsh is a significant overwintering area for waterfowl, especially Black Ducks. The rare Snowy Owl, threatened Short-eared Owl, and special concern Ipswich Sparrow, can also be found wintering here. It is a critical nesting habitat for special concern species Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed and Seaside Sparrow, Willet, and the threatened Least Tern and Piping Plover. The site is also an important feeding area for wading birds such as the threatened Great and Snowy Egrets, after the young have fledged. Endangered raptors, such as Northern Harriers, Bald Eagles, and Peregrine Falcons, use this area as a feeding ground during migration and winter. The nearby airport lawns support breeding areas for the endangered Upland Sandpiper and the threatened Horned Lark. The site is a migratory stopover for the endangered Pied-billed Grebe.