24 Hours at Peach Hill During Migration

Magnolia Warbler

Magnolia Warbler

Like last year, I took a few days off to try and coincide with the annual Spring migration.  Typically, I will travel to several places of interest in an effort to find and photograph as many species as humanly possible.

This year was slightly different… I spent every hour of my time off at Peach Hill Park.  It has been the place that I’ve always had great success, and this year I was even more prepared.  I had a majority of the bird calls (especially warblers) down pat, plenty of food, water, bug spray and sunscreen.

2013 did not disappoint.  Let me tell you about my amazing time at what can arguably be called the best place to bird watch in Dutchess County in Spring.

Cape May Warbler

Cape May Warbler

The first day out was Sunday, May 12th.  It was a day that may go down in local history as the best birding day ever.  This was a legendary day that I will not forget in my lifetime.  The number of birds singing was unbelievable, and it lasted for hours and hours.  Other birders from the Ralph T. Waterman Bird Club were also there.  We looked like the paparazzi with all of our telephoto lenses!

In total, I had 67 different species, including 17 species of warblers.  One of those warblers was a ‘life’ bird for me, the Cape May Warbler.  Other notables included Blackburnian Warblers, Blackpoll Warblers, Tennessee Warblers, Northern Parula, both species of cuckoos (heard only) and scarlet tanagers.

When I returned for the second day on May 13th, it was the direct opposite.  Silence filled the park, with the exception of the summer residences.  Could migration be over so soon?  The morning temperature was close to freezing, so that might have played into it.  With a keen eye though, we could see that the birds were still here, but simply not singing.  At this point we realized that we would have to work hard for our sightings.

Bay-breasted Warbler

Bay-breasted Warbler

Once again, it paid off.  We continued to see Cape May Warblers, and also had a brief appearance by a Bay-breasted Warbler as well!  We also had a Bald Eagle soaring high in the sky, and a pair of Common Ravens!  The day ended with 50+ species of birds again, with several new ones on the day.

The final day, May 14th, was a mix of both days.  Migrants were singing, but they were very difficult to locate.  We once again discovered a few Cape May Warblers and Bay-breasted, plus we heard the arrival of Nashville Warblers.  Sadly, they remained hidden all day.

At this point, I was pretty sore.  I was sunburned, blistered, and worn down to the point where I could have fallen asleep on a picnic table for a few hours.  I had logged a full 24 hours at Peach Hill Park in three days after all.  It’s an unpaid full time position I will gladly accept every year though.

Northern Parula

Northern Parula

I am going through the massive amount of pictures I took during my time there.  I hope you liked the few I posted here, but there are plenty more to share later.

I don’t have nearly as much time to post daily like I used to, but I appreciate everyone’s continued interest in Local Exploration and my exploits.

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