Friday, October 30, 2009

Fall Foliage and Raptor Migration hike at Sterling Forest NY…

On Sunday October 25th, eighteen participants assembled in front of the NYC Audubon headquarters on 71 West 23rd St and boarded a van and car for a trip to Sterling Forest. Naturalist, Don Riepe, and I were the drivers and leaders of this group and we would join naturalist John Yrizarry who was going to be our guide for a day hike of Fall Foliage and Raptor Migration at Sterling Forest. Sterling Forest, located in Tuxedo New York is one of the success stories of environmental conservation and is now a State Park comprising of over 17,953 acres of nearly pristine natural refuge amidst of one of the nation's most densely populated areas.

John Yrizarry, 82 and still going strong!

Our weather looked good. We had clear skies and the temperature was just about right for a good hike with the expectation that it would be a few degrees cooler at Sterling Forest. We left Manhattan around, 10:15 a.m. and got to Sterling Forest around 11:30 a.m. Along the way, we saw Turkey Vultures, Black Vultures, Blue-Jays, Starlings, Common Grackles, Red-tail Hawks and a possible Golden Eagle.

When we arrived at the Frank R. Lautenberg Sterling Forest visitor’s center, John was there to greet us in the parking lot. While, Don took the group into the center for an orientation presented by the park rangers present, John and I strategized on what to do. John indicated that there was not much action, an indication that there was not any mass overnight movement of migrants. So, we decided hiking Lake Sterling. Once the orientation was over we set off on the lake trail. John, is a well know naturalist and beloved by many for his jovial manner and vast knowledge. He was in fine form and entertained the group with anecdotes of his experience as a naturalist – the group loved it. Don did the same and took his time to discuss many of the plant species we encountered during our hike. With the sun behind us, we had good light and the foliage was beautiful to behold. The views were breathtaking and all the participants were amazed at the colors.

In addition to the gorgeous foliage we got a number of birds including views of a Pileated Woodpecker; a bird we always try for and have heard but had only had one sighting since the annual trip to Sterling Forest began. The first time bird was seen, only two of us got on the bird – John and I. We picked up the Pileated way across the lake flying left over the ridge; John jokingly averaged the distance at a good 20 miles away - it was way out and could not be seen with the naked eye. Try as we might to get the group on the bird it was rather difficult given the distance. We explained to the group that we were able to ID this bird due to the deep wing flaps and white underwing coverts. The second Pileated sighting of the day, the entire group was able to get on the bird; it flew in while we were having lunch by the lake and came in right over us. The view was spectacular and a treat for everyone - for many it was a life bird.

By then, we had hiked well over 4 miles and the group was starting to tire, so we rested a bit then headed back to the visitor’s center. We made one other stop at Eagle Lake where we picked up a few more bird species then headed back to NYC arriving around 7:00 P.M. It was a wonderful day for a hike - everyone loved the trip and looked forward to the spring trip to Sterling Forest when we will go looking for warblers and other spring beauties.

Total birds seen: 36
  1. American Black Duck
  2. American Crow
  3. American Goldfinch
  4. American Robin
  5. Black Vulture
  6. Black-capped Chickadee
  7. Blue-headed Vireo
  8. Blue Jay
  9. Brown Creeper
  10. Canada Goose
  11. Cedar Waxwing
  12. Dark-eyed Junco
  13. Downy Woodpecker
  14. Eastern Phoebe
  15. Golden Eagle
  16. Golden-crowned Kinglet
  17. Grackle
  18. Hermit Thrush
  19. House Finch
  20. Mallard
  21. Mourning Dove
  22. Mute Swan
  23. Northern Mockingbird
  24. Pileated Woodpecker
  25. Red-tailed Hawk
  26. Ring-billed Gull
  27. Rock Pigeon
  28. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  29. Sharp-shinned Hawk
  30. Song Sparrow
  31. Titmouse
  32. Turkey Vulture
  33. White breasted Nuthatch
  34. White-throated Sparrow
  35. Winter Wren
  36. Yellow-rumped Warbler

Tags: , ,

Share with Bookmark and Share


cindyzlogic said...

Great post, Dude! You really saw some great birds! The foliage photo was beautiful!


@cindyzlogic Thanks Cindy, it was a good outing. We did not do too bad given the lack of migratory movement.