Searching for signs of spring and symbols of Easter on a gray, blustery Saturday morning, youngsters scampered through the nature preserve of the Connecticut Audubon Society during the group's 16th annual egg hunt.

More than 75 people braved the overcast skies and un-springlike temperatures to search for eggs at the Burr Street sanctuary in an event geared for children 8 years old and younger, which featured a continental breakfast, crafts, and visits with Audubon's animal menagerie that, for the day, included the Easter Bunny.

Joan Winter, the Audubon Center's publicist, remarked, "This is a lovely event, a sweet activity for young families to do with their small children. It's special in its simplicity -- low-key, calm and happy. I wish it was warmer this morning, but it's still a great way to kick off the season. The crafts allow kids to be creative and the live animals are always popular.

"Besides all the activities, we have centerpieces of spring grasses in containers that kids can decorate and take home," she said. "What's nice is the involvement of our teen animal care volunteers, many of whom were visitors as kids like these children today. They learn to be good stewards of the environment."

Angela Benzan of Westport, with her husband Steve and daughters Mia, 7, and Chloe, 5, in tow, were early arrivals. "The children are so excited to be here and start Easter early," she said. "They've brought their pails and are ready to go."

Kristin Brebbia of Fairfield, with husband Joel and daughter Kenzie, 2, said the event was Kenzie's first real Easter experience. "She's a little scared of the Easter Bunny, but she'll bounce back and have a good time today."

The Taylor family, recent residents of Fairfield, thought the event would be a great way to meet other families, as well as a fun outing. Said Amanda Taylor, "We wanted to come down and take part in the festivities and traditions."

Watching his daughter Allie, 2, scramble for plastic eggs hidden amongst strands of straw in a garden area behind the facility, Martin Hripak said, "Allie's mom is a teacher here, so we're here a lot. Allie loves being outdoors. This is her first egg hunt. She's excited."

Guiding her 3-year-old daughter on a crafts project after the egg hunt had run its course, Sarah Sprague of Norwalk said, "Aubrey is in her element with the gluestick, crayons and blueberry muffin. It doesn't get any better than this."

In an adjacent room of the center, Angelika Clum watched her daughter Nikki, 7, who had found a furry rabbit to pet. "We have a guinea pig and dog at home," Clum said. "Nikki loves animals."

"My favorite animal here is the bunny," said Nikki, "though I got to pet the guinea pig, too. It was soft and cute and looked like our guinea pig, Mr. Nibbles."

Dana Barnes of Westport and her daughter Chloe, 4, were collaborating on a coloring project. "It's springtime and we really wanted to be outdoors and create a tradition with our daughter," she said. "The egg hunt is a wonderful tradition and the crafts were an extra special treat. It's something she loves and a chance for me to sit with her and create.

"This is nice for the whole family."