Trip Reports
Winter Specialties along the Hudson River (Westchester County) - February 21, 2016

Note: Once again our good friends Gerhard Patsch and Bob Slechta of the Edgar A. Mearns Bird Club, a NYSYBC Partner Club, led a terrific winter field trip for us. We saw many eagles, along with 40 other species, a fine showing for a winter's day!

Great Cormorants, photo Jay Klotz
Great Cormorants, photo Jay Klotz

The NYSYBC Field Trip in February 2016 was held with the goal of finding some special winter species. Unlike the average field trip hosted by the club, the group on this one did not hike in one certain location, but rather stopped at several different spots and did little walking at each. These locations were all along the east side of the Hudson River in Westchester County, and lasted the trip from 8 AM until lunch.

The NYSYBC sponsoring partner of the trip was the Edgar A. Mearns Bird Club of Orange County, NY and the leaders were EAMBC members Gerhard Patsch and Bob Slechta. The trip began where the group met: at a scenic overlook that gave a great view of Iona Island in the Hudson River and the Bear Mountain Bridge. It was in this location that we had a number of Bald Eagles that by far exceeded the number most of my fellow club members and I have seen in any one place.

After the briefing of the trip, we drove down to China Pier at Charles Point on Peekskill Bay (part of the Hudson) and spotted 21 Great Cormorants all together on a tiny artificial island in the middle of the bay with a tower used for either communication or warnings for boats. We also saw more Bald Eagles flying by, along with 10 Fish Crows and some Buffleheads.

Next we headed to the Charles Point marina, where we had a few ravens and what we thought to be a Common Goldeneye, but turned out to be a Female Bufflehead. Our next location was Verplanck Point further down the river. Being in this area gave us a good chance of seeing another high number of Bald Eagles, which we did. Next was Lake Meahagh, where we surprisingly had a Killdeer and a Great Blue Heron. They had both either overwintered due to the warm weather up here or come back up early due to heating down south.

At the Echo Canoe Launch, photo by Carena Pooth
At the Echo Canoe Launch, photo by Carena Pooth

After Lake Meahagh, the group took another short drive, this time to Georges Island Park, where we had yet another highlight of the trip: two Ring-necked Ducks. But where we spent the most time on the trip, looking for the most species, was Croton Point. There, we had our only Blue Jays of the trip and our only seed-eating passerines, aside from house sparrows and house finches at the Charles Point marina. It was the most land-based part of the trip, save for the meeting place up in the Hudson Highlands.

Croton Point was not the end of our trip, however, as our final birding stop, a bit unexpected for a few of us, including me, was the Echo Canoe Launch near the Croton Point Metro North railroad station. The Echo Canoe Launch has been a docking place for canoes for over a hundred years, and is located on a small bay by a railroad bridge over the strait leading into the bay from the Hudson. We did not see anything of interest here, so, feeling like we were done for the day, we all drove to a diner, and had a classic American-style lunch before we took a group photo and departed.

I would like to thank Herb Thompson, Carena Pooth, Gerhard Patsch, Bob Slechta, and the Edgar A. Mearns Bird Club for leading and coordinating a great trip for us young birders who took time to see some cool sightings. I had fun on this trip and I hope to see you guys on a future trip. Good birding, all!

                                                                             — Noam Klotz, age 17

         View photo gallery

          List of Birds Seen on this Trip  by Jordan Klein 

Canada Goose
Mute Swan
Ring-necked Duck
Hooded Merganser
Common Merganser
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Bald Eagle
Red-tailed Hawk

Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Blue Jay
American Crow
Fish Crow
Common Raven
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren

Eastern Bluebird
American Robin
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Song Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
House Finch
House Sparrow

        Species Total: 41