What: Birdwatching, warbler migration, nature.
When: May 10 - 21, 2017
Where: Follow the Hudson: Manhattan to Fort Edward.
Why Responsible: Support of local guides, inns, businesses, preserved habitat, and endangered bird and wildlife species.
How Long: 11 days (see end for more)
Your Perfect "First" Birding Tour
What is the best part of the spring warbler migration?
Aside from witnessing the amazing journey of tiny rainbow-colored birds as they fly thousands of miles from as far south as Peru, to as far north as Arctic, it might just be the great people you meet along the way.
Two of my favorite warbler-following friends, Gerry Griffiths from England, president of Avian Adventures and Elise Boeger from Manhattan, plus some folks from here and from England will greet the feathered migrants in Central Park then follow them in their annual pilgrimage north up the Hudson River Valley.
The adventure begins in just a few short weeks and you are invited!
Nature, Cozy Inns, Local Cuisine, and Artisanal Wine & Beer
The little jewel-like birds may be single-minded in their quest (read more about them here), but as we follow them, we humans will relax and explore nature, stay in little inns, and enjoy some of the freshest, most delicious local cuisine, wine and beer in the U.S.A!
Manhattan's Hotel Wales, a lovely little boutique hotel a couple of tree-lined blocks from Central Park, is an oasis in the city. It is just a few minutes ride, but a world away, from the hustle of New York’s mid-town.
This year our warbler tour will take us as far north as Fort Edward, New York. Gerry, Elise, and I got together to plan.
Elise Boeger & Gerry Griffiths Tell Us What Makes Central Park Special
Roberta: "Elise, why is Central Park so special? Why do the warblers come here?"
Elise: “Central Park’s 843 acres (341 hectares) is located along the important birding migration route (called) the Atlantic Flyway. For hundreds maybe thousands of years, they have followed it in spring and fall from the Southern U.S., Caribbean, Central and South America, to their breeding areas in North America and back again.
"Central Park is considered one of the hot spots in the United States for birding, as it (and other city parks) provide a strategic stopover for forage and protection along the way. Over 230 (bird) species have been spotted here!”
One Park - Many Experiences
Roberta: "The park has many different sections, some, like the Conservatory Garden, are structured, some like the Lock or the Turtle pond seem less tamed. What is your favorite?"
Elise: “My favorite area in Central Park is the Ramble. Frederick Law Olmsted, Designer of the Park, considered these 36 acres his “Wild Garden” … a tranquil escape from urban life.
"The meandering paths through beautiful trees, and gardens, rocky outcrops, streams and a lake, are meant to slow folks down and appreciate just how inspiring nature can be in our bustling city throughout the year.”
Roberta: "Yes, a lot of folks come to Central Park and never explore this mysterious forest-in-the city. What birds can we expect to see there?"
Elise: "The annual spring and fall migrations (brings) the beautiful Eastern wood warblers, and other magnificent songbirds, or Neotropical Migrants, (and) tanagers, thrushes, vireos, swallows, orioles, and our birds native to New York City."
Roberta: "What is your favorite first stop outside the city?"
Discover a Million Dollar View and Coffee
Elise: "A great place to stop along the Palisades on the way up is State Line Lookout. (There is) an incredible vista overlooking the Hudson River. This is also a prime spot in the fall, with the migrating raptors on their flight south."
Roberta: "Yes, I love that rest stop! It is high above the Hudson River. Last year we witnessed a peregrine falcon soaring above the river, but eye level to us, so close we could almost reach out and touch him! And they have good coffee there - a morning must for this caffeine dependent nature lover."
Doodletown: Birds, Butterflies & A Real Ghost Town
Gerry: “I love the Doodletown area and on my first visit there in May 2016 I realized what a special place it was, particularly for the breeding American wood warbler family (Parulidae). However, there are many other special birds, including orioles, tanagers, cuckoos and thrushes.”
You will love it too.
Doodletown is considered a "real live” ghost-town, established around 1762 it was abandoned in 1965 to become part of Bear Mountain State Park.
Foundations of the little houses, schools, and churches are still visible among the trees. Stone bridges over the streams are a lovely place to rest and watch the water meander around the rocks where turtles sun themselves and delicate butterflies flutter by.
Relaxation: A "Natural" Reaction
From Doodletown we will all head up along the Hudson where myriads of small towns are chock full of history, cozy inns, and great food. As the city disappears behind us nature begins to work her magic, you will probably find yourself feeling a little lighter, breathing a little deeper, and smiling a lot. Do not worry. It is a “natural” reaction.
The Rensselaer Plateau, N.Y's Forest Sanctuary
Further north along the river, just east of Albany is the Rensselaer Plateau and Forest Tract. At 118,000 acres (47,750 hectares), it is one of the largest and most ecologically intact habitats in New York State.
This very special expanse of forest and wetlands is a favorite breeding spot for a lot of at-risk warblers like the black-throated blue and others. Moose, bob cats, and endangered Northern otters like it too!
Saratoga National Historic Park, A Revolutionary Stop over
Saratoga National Historic Park, named for the important part the area played in our Revolutionary War, combines nature with history. You cannot help but laugh when the park rangers delightedly tell the story of how the British army got their collective butts kicked here. They get so enthusiastic that even our British friends are cheering at the end. This was one of the very few battles the Brits lost during the revolution. It is also where I (nearly) saw the biggest of all living woodpeckers, the pileated. These fellows are so big you will swear they are left over pterodactyls.
From Warblers to Eagles, Fort Edward, N.Y.
Our furthest point north will be Fort Edward and vicinity. This is Friends of the Washington County IBA (Important Bird Area) country! And also the home of good friend and amazing wildlife photographer, Gordon Ellmers. A quiet man of more smiles than words, you might say he is a bird whisperer. Nothing hides from Gordie, not surprising as he is part of a long line of animal whisperers… er…veterinarians. He knows all their secrets and he will share them with us. (We saw snowy owls with Gordie earlier this year)
Expect to see the big raptors too! Bald eagles, majestic and fierce-looking, also breed up here. Their nests are 4 to 5-feet (1.2 - 1.5m) across and 2-feet (.6m) deep and bigger. The largest recorded (St. Petersburg, Florida) weighed 3 tons!
Get Ready for Great Blues - Herons That is!
And then there are the great blue herons. I was totally amazed to find that these tall long-legged birds (up to 4.5-ft / 1.4m) nest in trees in social groups called “rookeries.” To see the great birds building a nest or bringing food to each other is to witness an aerial ballet with no equal.
Even if you have never “bird watched” before, the spring warbler migration is a moment in nature you want to experience at least once in your life.
Find the Warblers - with Friends!
Avid Birder or First Timer - Choose one of the spring tours with our experienced guides
1) Central Park: Families & adults.
Schedule a personalized morning or afternoon in Central Park with Elise Boeger
2) Central Park and the Hudson River Valley: Adults Only
Join Avian Adventures' Gerry Griffiths and Elise for 10 days. Explore Central Park, then follow the tiny migrants up the Hudson River Valley as far as Fort Edward, NY. Stay in quaint inns, enjoy fresh local meals, and arrive back in NYC with time to explore Jamaica Bay and Central Park one more time. We will celebrate and say farewell with dinner in a wonderful locally owned bistro. May 10 - 19, 2017 No previous birding experience necessary.
On the agenda:
Nature, warblers & other song birds, nesting great blue herons, and nesting bald eagles, local inns, delicious fresh local food, and great company including an expert guide
. For more information contact us here. Tell us: “I Want to See Warblers!”
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For the wonderful photography of:
Gerald Griffiths and Avian Adventure and Elise Boeger for their help & expertise
Gordon Ellmers. Follow Gordie in Facebook
Annabeth Horsley and Ray Tipper
Michael Grutt. Follow him on Facebook
The Rensselaer Plateau Alliance. Follow them on Facebook
And Fred and Fort Edward Magazine