Marsh And March
The Core Team’s excursion this weekend was a soggy slog through Constitution Marsh in Cold Spring, NY. Although the weather report promised that the heavy cloud cover over NYC would burn off quickly, we didn’t consider that conditions might be different 55 miles to the north. But the clouds persisted, thickened, and finally burst just as we got close to Cold Spring. Unhappy, but undeterred, we tried to make the best of a bad situation. On the bright side, our little woodsman, Mason couldn’t have cared less about the rain!
Constitution Marsh is a very special place, 270 acres of terrific tidal marsh situated directly across the Hudson River from the impressive campus of West Point Military Academy. Once a Superfund site, it is now an Important Bird Area and an Audubon Center and Sanctuary. It is also extremely beautiful. I regretfully left my camera in the car due to the weather, so I can’t share the immersive experience of traversing the lush marshland via Jim’s Walk, the well-crafted 700-foot boardwalk. Take my word for it; the dense layered mass of aquatic vegetation, strata of twisted green roots, sharp reeds and grasses, and countless colorful blossoms, is well worth the trip. Strangely enough, in the two times we’ve been to the marsh, we’ve been the only visitors. This last time, the Nature Center wasn’t even open.
Constitution Marsh is home to breeding Least Bittern and Virginia Rail, but somehow we missed these wily waders. Carrying around an exuberant 17-month old might have something to do with that. However, we did flush a single American Coot, which cried piki-ki-ki in a panic while fleeing. Instead of waterfowl, we were surrounded by Red-winged Blackbird, Swamp Sparrow, Song Sparrow, and Common Yellowthroat. The sanctuary is home to plenty more songbirds, but in the rain, we only spotted Gray Catbird, Black-capped Chickadee, and the requisite ambiguous Empidonax.
Overcome at last by the rain, we fled to the comforts of the local farmer’s market. We also had a chance to finally view March of the Penguins. Having heard so much about this film already, we weren’t sure whether we’d love it or hate it. Now, I’m glad we took the time. March of the Penguins is quite moving, both visually and emotionally. It’s quite rare that a single species other than our own can carry a feature-length film. Yet, the remarkable saga Emperor Penguins endure every year simply to beget the next generation makes for gripping drama. Another plus is that the film is narrated by Morgan Freeman, an expressive actor famous for his work in the groovy 70’s children’s show, The Electric Company (along with some more recent movie work.)