Trip Reports
Hudson River Eagle Watch (Westchester County) - February 2, 2014

Note: Once again we were lucky to be invited on a trip with Gerhard Patsch and Bob Slechta of the Edgar A. Mearns Bird Club, a NYSYBC Partner Club. Many thanks to Gerhard and Bob for showing us so many wonderful places to look for eagles on the Hudson! Last year this trip was snowed out, but this year the weather was glorious (thank you, Gerhard!).

Adult Bald Eagle on the Hudson River, photo by Marc Katz
Adult Bald Eagle on the Hudson River
photo by Marc Katz

"This is the best birding trip I've ever been on!" Teresa Loomis. "You might as well be in Alaska!" Gerhard Patsch. "Eagle paradise!" Sarah Freiburger. These were just a few of the things people said about this trip. On February 2, 2014, the Young Birders went on an eagle watch trip in Westchester County that started just south of the Bear Mountain Bridge and ended with us seeing 97 Bald Eagles!! Ten young birders attended.

The weather started out cold with a fog hanging in the air that we thought might threaten our ability to see the Hudson River. However the fog burned off quickly as we started. There were ice floes crowding the river--perfect conditions for Bald Eagles. Our fantastic trip leaders were Gerhard Patsch and Bob Slechta of the Edgar A. Mearns Bird Club. Gerhard also led us on our walk in Doodletown last spring. Thank you, Gerhard.—you did it again.

This trip was not a "bird walk" but more of a "bird ride" with stops along the Hudson River starting at the Bear Mountain Bridge and going south. We started at the Iona Island overlook on the east side of the Hudson where we immediately spotted at least six Bald Eagles on ice floes. A rush swept the crowd as the first adult Bald Eagle was spotted. But this was just the beginning. In a little while we would see something many people have never seen before.

Our next stop was Annsville Creek. No eagles but we did see some diving ducks such as a Hooded Merganser and a Bufflehead.

Next stop—Charles Point. Bald Eagles were plentiful by the second. Both juvenile and adult. Many were on ice floes. Some we saw flying. And at least one we spotted in a tree. Also, we saw a small flock of Common Mergansers and a bunch of Great Cormorants perched on a tower in the water. There were many scopes available so we had good opportunity to study these birds well. Very rewarding.

On the Fleischmann Pier at Charles Point, photo by Donna Loomis
On the Fleischmann Pier at Charles Point
photo by Donna Loomis

Next we came to Kings Ferry/Verplanck where we saw many more Bald Eagles--flying and on ice floes, both Double-crested and Great Cormorants, some Common Mergansers and a Fish Crow—a lifer for this reporter. This was getting good.

Next we stopped at George's Island County Park where we hit the mother lode of Bald Eagles. Bald Eagles in the trees. Bald Eagles on ice floes. Bald Eagles in the air. And when two Bald Eagles had a disagreement, one Bald Eagle in the water. What the reporter is trying to say is—we saw a lot of Bald Eagles.

Last stop—Black Rock Park on the Croton River, somewhat inland eastward from the Hudson River. There were several species of waterfowl including Ring-Necked Ducks, (male and female and another lifer for the reporter) many Buffleheads, Gadwalls, Common Goldeneyes, more Bald Eagles (!) and others.

In conclusion, as noted above this was an epic trip. Eagle paradise and Alaska. We owe thanks to Gerhard Patsch, Bob Slechta, Sue Freiburger, Carena Pooth, Herb Thompson and all the other adult advisors. We look forward to meeting again soon.

                                           — Gabey Newman, age 11

         View photo gallery

             List of Birds Seen on this Trip 
             by Sarah and Sean Freiburger

Canada Goose
Mute Swan
Ring-necked Duck
Common Goldeneye
Hooded Merganser
Common Merganser
Wild Turkey
Pied-Billed Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Cormorant
Bald Eagle
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Coot
Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Mourning Dove
Downy Woodpecker
Peregrine Falcon
Blue Jay
American Crow
Fish Crow
Common Raven
Tufted Titmouse
American Robin
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
House Sparrow

Species Total: 34