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A Birdwatcher's View of Crown Maple -- Year 2Submitted by Robb on May 24, 2012 - 5:53pm
Last year, I introduced you to Alan Jennings, an old family friend and avid "birder." Alan and his wife, Denise, had spent a weekend birdwatching and staying at our cabin at Crown Maple Farm. Alan wrote about the experience in a blog post that many of our readers commented on. I invited Alan and Denise to come back this year and here is their report. Enjoy!
Robb and Lydia, in addition to investing in the rural area of Dover Plains, New York, creating jobs and other economic opportunities, have made a commitment to sustainable growth, making top-shelf-quality syrup through organic practices, as well as preserving hundreds of acres of old-growth maple forest.
And nobody appears to be benefitting more than our fine feathered friends. If our birds are the proverbial canary in the coal mine, then Dover Plains is doing just fine.
I was asked to come back to the woods where Crown Maple Syrup begins in order to document the migration of birds moving through those woods. Well, uh, let me think about that. OK, let's see, uh, I'll be there in three hours!
So my wife, Denise, our golden retriever, Reilly, and I spent Saturday, May 5, and Sunday, May 6, at the cabin located in the 800-acre forest. And I spent a glorious 10 to 12 hours watching birds - 58 species. I saw big birds, the tiniest of birds, dull birds, colorful birds, skulking and shy birds, loud and obnoxious birds, common birds and rare birds, birds that climb on rocks, even birds with chicken pox (OK, not that last one - I just got the old Oscar Meyer jingle in my head).
We got to the cabin after 11 PM on Friday night and were welcomed to Crown Maple Syrup's woods by the distinctive call of a Great Horned Owl: hoot, hoot, hoot hoot, hoot. Thank you, we're glad to be here!
On Sunday morning I got another greeting. As I was preparing to leave the cabin, I looked out the window of the door, and suddenly a Ruby-throated Hummingbird appears, hovers in front of me, as if to say, "C'mon, we're waiting for you," and disappears.
This is better than a Disney movie!
Now, as any birder will tell you, the real prizes of the spring migration are the family of species known as warblers. These little (typically, not more than 6 inches), colorful birds that warble some variation on "sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet" are a joy to track down. I got 10 species (Yellow-rumped, Commom Yellowthroat, Hooded, Cerulean, Black-throated Green, Chestnut-sided, Yellow, Louisiana Waterthrush, Ovenbirds and American Redstart). I'm sure there were more, but too many rock concerts have diminished my hearing.
Other gorgeous, colorful birds making appearances included hundreds of Baltimore Orioles (I know folks in the Dover Plains area are probably Yankee or Met fans, but this area is indisputably Oriole country). There were the strikingly brilliant Scarlet Tanagers, Eastern Bluebirds, American Goldfinches, Northern Cardinals, and loud and obnoxious Blue Jays.
A special treat for those of who don't have easy access to vast, old-growth forests, is the Pileated Woodpecker. This is a crow-sized spectacle. I stood 30 feet away from one as it worked a dead snag in the marsh, oblivious or even unconcerned about the guy watching him. Amazingly, I must have seen a dozen of them.
Another special woodpecker sighting was the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (yes, Daffy Duck fans, ttthhuffering ttthhuckatash, there really are Yellow-bellied Ttthhaptthhuckers). Here in eastern Pennsylvania where I live, I'm lucky to see a sapsucker once in three years. I must have seen 20 of them in these woods.
I also saw Downy Woodpeckers, Red-bellied Woodpeckers and Northern Flickers.
One of the most stunning birds in North America is the Wood Duck. Go find a picture and see for yourself. Four of them were seen on the marsh. The marsh, by the way, teemed with avian life. The Swamp Sparrows hanging around were also a rarity for me.
Understand that those of us who watch birds see a lot of species so frequently that we lose a little excitement over seeing them. But each is special in its own way. The vireos (Red-eyed, Warbling and Blue-headed), the raptors (besides the owl, I couldn't believe I saw a Northern Goshawk fly over, the Broad-winged and Red-tailed hawks, the American Kestrel in a nearby field, and even the ugly, ol' Turkey Vulture), the flycatchers (Great-crested, Least and Eastern Phoebe), the thrushes (Swainson's, Hermit and Wood, the Veery and even the American Robin) were all great to see and inventory.
At the end of this blog you'll see the rest of the birds I documented at the Crown Maple Syrup farm, every one of them God's creature, and every one of them worth thanking Him for the opportunity to experience seeing and hearing.
And thanks, too, to Robb and Lydia for the opportunity.
Here are the rest:
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