Who doesn’t love a long weekend? Sunday was all about BBQ and bonhomie, but on Saturday, the Core Team took advantage of the free time to visit a couple of our favorite Putnam County haunts. Putnam is upstate of NYC, just like virtually everything north of Yonkers, sandwiched between ritzy Westchester and distant Dutchess Counties. Although we usually travel there for the phenomenal hiking, our purpose this time was to find some new old furniture. The village of Cold Spring is a beautiful little place nestled on the eastern bank of the mighty Hudson. People travel from far and wide to visit this town’s plenteous antique stores. We’ve been visiting with antiques in mind for a while now, but I believe those days are past. The antiquing just isn’t very good in Cold Spring anymore. There are few bargains to be found, and most of the shops are selling kitsch and crafts. Such is life.
Anyway, our trip was hardly a bust, because we also dropped in at the Chuang Yen Monastery in Kent. This is a spot we’ll visit again and again. Not only does Chuang Yen house the largest Buddha statue in the Western hemisphere, it also offers an amazing vegetarian lunch. We may not be Buddhists, but we appreciate good art and good eats. Furthermore, the grounds of the monastery are something of a bird sanctuary. We’ve been here twice in the last year, and each time we’ve spotted new birds. It must be the tranquil atmosphere.
This time, our lifer was a mottled, maternal Olive-sided Flycatcher. At least that’s what we think it was. It was a large, crested flycatcher, dark above and splotchy below. This bird was feeding young in a nest perched in the eaves of one of the temple buildings. We’re not incontrovertibly sure about this identification, but since we can’t imagine what else the bird can be, we’ll take it.
We also spotted a beautiful Red-eyed Vireo, which looks a lot like a cross between a White-breasted and a Red-breasted Nuthatch, but without all of the nuthatchery, like climbing tree trunks and such. Our view of this bird was so good that it cast into doubt our only other sighting of this species. Well, I’ll be the first to admit that we’re learning more about birds all the time. Soon enough, we’ll be reasonably proficient birders.
If we were better at this, we probably would have grabbed another life bird. We spotted a little streaky number, perhaps a smaller flycatcher, working a fat orange grub on a branch. Without a filed guide, though, we were completely lost. For the record, we also saw lots of catbirds, sparrows, and other New York birds of summer. The final highlight was a mother Mallard and her brood of ducklings. Chuang Yen Monastery is a beautiful, serene place to spend some time. We enjoyed it so much that we went home and rented Kundun.