This past Sunday was a hot sunny day in New York and the family and I took full advantage of it, exploring Rockefeller State Park Preserve, a pretty park in Westchester County, not too far north of the Bronx.  The trails that wound through woods and across meadows were wonderful and the lake, though small, is a beauty, and the entire park is just chock full of nice landscapes.  Fortunately for me, there were birds around too!

An outing with an eighteen-month-old and two non-birders as participants can’t be focused entirely on birds, of course, but as we walked along I could certainly listen to what was singing.  Blue-winged and Yellow Warblers sang as we walked down the Hollow Road Trail, as well as a Wood Thrush, a Baltimore Oriole, and an Eastern Towhee.  Desi was happy to pick up rocks and sticks to hand to me and Daisy identified a Red-bellied Woodpecker by its coughing call.  Did I mention the Veery that suddenly flew in and seemed surprised to see us there?

Veery

Of course, we eventually made our way left onto the Ash Tree Trail and I made sure Desi had interesting stuff to look at to keep him occupied when we came to intersection with the Overlook Trail.  Why?  Oh, no real reason except, yes!  Singing Kentucky Warbler!  Maybe, just maybe, an individual Kentucky Warbler with a weird song had been reported from that exact spot on the listservs and maybe, just maybe, my decision of park for our outing and paths for our stroll weren’t random?  No, I have no such diabolical agendas!  Pure coincidence!

We enjoyed butterflies, dragonflies, and sticks.  Desi got tired and insisted on being carried.  Then he insisted on being put down.  Then he insisted on being carried.  Then he insisted on being put down.  Then he insisted on being carried.  Then he insisted on being put down.  Then we came to a wide open meadow with long grass, a view of the lake, Tree SwallowsEastern Bluebirds, and Chipping Sparrows and it was nice.

fledgling and female Eastern Bluebirds

The lake was pretty and we found a nice bench to sit on for our picnic lunch while the clouds blew by and the Song Sparrow sang from a bush near by.  A Red-tailed Hawk paid a visit and Desi used the word hawk, which he had jsut learned the night before.  A good time was had by all…

not a great shot of a Red-tailed Hawk, but it seems so familiar…

The beautiful trails and paths of the Rockefeller State Park Preserve are well worth a visit.  There are trails that can be easily handled by even an eighteen-month-old and other trails that are a bit more challenging, but nothing, so far as I know, that would tax a serious hiker.  The scenery is top-notch, the trails are well-maintained, and there was not a speck of litter anywhere in the preserve.  Make a visit – you won’t regret it!

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Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy, their son, Desmond Shearwater, and their indoor cat, B.B. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.