09/11/11 – Norrie Point, Mills Mansion Hike

Spotted Sandpiper

With the chance of rain relatively low on Sunday, I decided to head to the Hudson River in search of new birds.  My intention was to also do some landscape shots along the river, but that never happened due to many exciting bird sightings.

The day started off strong with my first Great Egret sighting.  He was just standing along the shore near the Norrie Point Environmental Center.  He hung around for at least a half an hour before a great blue heron chased him out.  I did spot another egret on our side of the river, but it was too far away to photograph.

Bald Eagle

We continued to hang around a little bit to see if anything else would turn up.  Suddenly, a huge bird appeared, flying towards us along the river.  It was an adult bald eagle!  The lighting made it really difficult to get a good photo, but I got a few regardless of the turnout.

I continued to look through the vegetation on the river in search of shorebirds, but I didn’t find any.  We then decided to head to Mills Mansion to get another look at the river and hope things would be as exciting there.  Problem was, the road to get to Mills Mansion from Norrie Point was closed.  Thankfully, we were able to get there by going back on Rt.9 and turning onto Old Post Road past the golf course.

Great Blue Heron

As we walked down to the river, I could already see a great blue heron near the shore.  I figured he would take off as we got closer, but he stuck around long enough for me to get a few beautiful shots.

Suddenly, the whole area came to life!  Within a minute, one flock of canada geese and two flocks of mallards landed near us, prompting a few sandpipers in the distance to fly towards us.  They were incredibly hard to find, but then, I found a spotted sandpiper!  I’ve only see one prior to this, so I took what photos I could before he flew off.

It didn’t end there either.  Unexpectedly, I heard what sounded like a branch breaking in a tree near us.  It was a juvenile bald eagle, he must have been next to us the whole time!

Common Buckeye

I scanned the other side of the river to see if I could make anything out, and sure enough, I could see about five swans and four egrets, but not much else.  We then decided to move to another area to see what else might turn up.

We didn’t get too far before my fiancee pointed out a butterfly.  It was a common buckeye!  It took off prior to getting a picture, but I followed it until it landed.  The extra effort was well worth it.  I would love to say it ended there, but there were still a few more surprises during the day.

As I was looking for a squirrel making noise in a tree, a red-tailed hawk swooped in!  Was he trying to get the squirrel?  It happened so fast and the hawk immediately took off.  Then, another hawk… this one landed right in front of us!  Wait, it’s not a hawk… it’s another juvenile bald eagle!

Juvenile Bald Eagle

I almost couldn’t take the excitement.  As an outdoor and wildlife enthusiast, I couldn’t have asked for a more thrilling day.  The eagle stuck around for a few minutes, watching us as we looked for a clear view through the trees.

This was just what I needed after all the rain we’ve been having.  It seemed like an eternity since the last good bird watching day.

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