Go it Alone or Bring the Whole Family
A Beautiful Morning
The morning sun was beginning to climb in the blue sky when I arrived at The Wild Center for a birding hike. My bird list started as soon as I arrived — with a pair of Killdeer calling from the meadow, a House Wren singing from the brushy edge habitat which surrounds the building and parking lot, and both Magnolia and Yellow-rumped Warblers singing from the woods. The Wild Center trails are easy to negotiate so I didn’t have to don heavy boots or lug all the hiking paraphernalia along like I usually do on my hikes, but I toted along my camera in the hopes of getting some shots.
And so I set off and wound along the intriguing trails which hide the next bend from view, pausing at the entrance for Wild Walk, which was closed since the museum wouldn’t open for a couple hours. But the bird feeders at the entrance to Wild Walk had attracted a few Red-breasted Nuthatches, a Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and a crew of Common Grackles, many of them young birds which had recently fledged from the nest.
For those of you who have never been there, Wild Walk offers a heightened perspective of the Adirondack forest, taking you through the treetops, complete with a giant eagle’s nest, an enormous spider web, a huge tree snag, and lots of other interactive exhibits. It is great for kids and people of all ages. Anyone can spend a lot of time there.
But with the gate to Wild Walk closed, I finished checking out the feeders at the entrance and I continued my meandering route, adding Black-throated Blue Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Northern Parula, and both Blue-headed and Red-eyed Vireos to my growing list.
I eventually arrived at the oxbow of the Raquette River where the museum runs regular canoe and paddling trips. It is the most diverse area on the property for birds and so I stood for a spell on each of the platforms along the water, quietly observing the advancing morning, complete with background music provided by Song Sparrows, Swamp Sparrows, Red-winged Blackbirds, and Alder Flycatchers, among many others. The setting was so tranquil that I started to lose focus on birding, and I instead stood gazing across the water with what I’m sure was a seemingly vacant, but dreamlike expression.
But the noise of the birds roused me from my contemplation, and I was soon spotting Eastern Kingbirds, Cedar Waxwings, and Northern Flickers, noting a Great Crested Flycatcher, and eyeing the first Turkey Vultures in the distance, flapping their way into the sky as the day warmed for them to begin soaring. I was hoping to spot an American Bittern which can sometimes be found in the marshy margins along the oxbow, but I came up empty on that goal and instead I saw a Great Blue Heron, a Mallard, and a Wood Duck in the wetlands. I continued to accrue songbirds, including Northern Parula and Black-and-white Warbler from the surrounding woods.
Now and then my mind would soften with the peaceful setting and I would once again forget about my birding endeavors in favor of watching the sun play on the surface of the water or just listening to the sounds of green frogs and mink frogs calling from the Oxbow.
And so my time at the Oxbow went to and fro from birds to reflection. But I finally roused myself altogether and reluctantly headed back on the trail towards The Wild Center and onto the adjoining trails of the local school, spooking a Broad-winged Hawk from the trees above and listening to the long, complicated trilled song of a Winter Wren.
I eventually made my way back to the trailhead to find the once empty parking lot filling up with cars. Their occupants played catch or ate a picnic breakfast in anticipation of the museum’s opening for the day. It looked like another busy day was about to begin, and I could feel the excitement and energy from the kids and their families as they waited for a chance to explore the museum and its grounds. Based on my own hike, I had no doubt they would find plenty to do, see, and hear when they investigated the place for themselves. And I was sure their enthusiasm would be well-rewarded. After all, it was a great day for discovery.
Summer is a great time of year for hiking, birding, paddling, and all sorts of outdoor adventures. And don’t forget that The Wild Center is open 7 days a week during the summer. Check out our lodging and dining pages to help you plan your trip.
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