Trip Reports
Peach Hill Park and Hopeland Sanctuary (Dutchess County) — June 7, 2015
posted 11/26/15

Note: This trip was sponsored by the Ralph T. Waterman Bird Club, a NYSYBC partner Club, and led by our very own Herb Thompson. "Many thanks to Herb and Carena Pooth for their tireless guidance and endless patience! -- Teresa Loomis"

Herb Thompson shows us a Tree Swallow nest, photo by Carena Pooth
Herb Thompson shows us a Tree Swallow nest.

Today, we went birding with NYSYBC, starting at Peach Hill, a park in Poughkeepsie. When we got there we heard the “sweet sweet, I’m so sweet” call of a Yellow Warbler, and the screechy cat-like song of a Gray Catbird. Noam saw a Brown Creeper and a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, but by the time I came over to see, they had already flown away.

We were joined by two new families, and we did our usual introductions. Then I spotted the Yellow Warbler and got a few pictures of it. We left Peach Hill and went to Hopeland Sanctuary on a wild goose chase for two Yellow-breasted Chats!

When we got to Hopeland, my brother spotted an Indigo Bunting at the very top of a pine tree. It even sang for us. A birder came over from the fields and told us that he had seen one of the chats and heard the other and pointed us in the direction of where they were. We wandered on the small Poison Ivy-infested trail. In a very short period of time, we heard one of the chats singing its mockingbird song mixed with a cuckoo’s.

Only a few of us saw the Yellow-breasted Chat in the tree that it was in, before it flew to a new spot. We did not have time to whine or complain, a Willow flycatcher was singing nearby. Herb mentioned that Willow Flycatchers are hard to tell apart from other flycatchers unless you know their song. The bird was sitting on a dead branch, and he soon flew off. We also heard Baltimore Orioles singing their melodic songs, and saw a TON of Cedar Waxwings flying and sitting everywhere. Some of us also caught a quick glimpse of an Eastern Bluebird. While we were birding I, along with a couple other birders, saw a Yellow-billed Cuckoo fly overhead, its very long tail quite impressive.

We started heading back down the trail, for we were going to go back to Peach Hill to walk the trail there. But then, we heard the chat again! We looked for where it was. Then my dad saw it on the right side of a bush that, from a certain point of view, looked like a “U.” It sat there for us, displaying its beautiful head. Then it flew off to a further location, doing its boogie moves in the air as it did. (Yellow-breasted Chats do a display flight pattern for the ladies in mid-air.) Satisfied, we continued our way down the trail. The Indigo Bunting was still in its territory and sang goodbye to us.

When we returned to Poughkeepsie, we started our second adventure on the Peach Hill trail. Herb Thompson is the Ralph T. Waterman Bird Club’s bluebird trail monitor for Peach Hill, so he opened up some Bluebird nesting boxes, and showed us the inside, teaching us how to tell what bird was nesting within. Several ¬†were House Wrens’ nests. House Wrens fill the whole nesting box with twigs, and lay speckled brown eggs. The rest were Tree Swallow nests. Tree swallows put a lot of big feathers inside their nests. They lay pure white eggs. The TS parents were very angry at us when we viewed their nests, but we did not touch a single one. One of the nests had almost fully-fledged babes, so we had to close it as quickly as possible before they flew out. Herb told us to stay away from the entrance, or a bird might fly into one of our faces. At the end of the trip we got a good long look at a Field Sparrow, which had a worm in its beak.

Then we returned to the parking lot. Those who had brought lunch ate with Carena and Herb. Those who didn’t (like us) said goodbye and headed out. It was a great trip!

                                                                              — Teresa Loomis, Age 12

Here’s a site with the chat's song:
Here is a video of the Y-b Chat that Carena took the day before this trip:

Click the PLAY arrow in the middle to start. For full screen mode, click on the small rectangle next to HD.

If the space below is blank, click here to open the video.


View field trip photo gallery

List of Birds Seen on this Trip

Great Blue Heron
Turkey Vulture
Mourning Dove
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Chimney Swift
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Pileated Woodpecker
Willow Flycatcher
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher
Yellow-throated Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Tree Swallow
Tufted Titmouse
House Wren
Eastern Bluebird
Wood Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Brown Thrasher
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Blue-winged Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Yellow Warbler
Prairie Warbler
Yellow-breasted Chat
Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Scarlet Tanager
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
Orchard Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

Species Total: 50