I spent the bulk of this past weekend in upstate New York for the simple reason that my dad just underwent quadruple bypass surgery and was recovering in hospital. Because the hospital, St. Peter’s, is in Albany, 140 miles north of my current home in Queens, I had the opportunity to both stop in and see my dad on Saturday and Sunday and bird some places I haven’t had the chance to visit since I moved to New York City. Not only that but I got to bird with some of the birders I never get to bird with, namely, Rich, Jory, and Will.

While I had a great time getting some new Saratoga County and Albany County birds with the capital region threesome mentioned above, this post is actually about birding Five Rivers Environmental Education Center with my mom on Saturday after we visited my dad in the hospital. Five Rivers is a place near and dear to my birding heart, not only because it is the place that finally my triggered my descent into the madness we call birding, but also because it is where I really learned to bird. I identified my first wood-warbler there (a Yellow Warbler, if you are keeping score at home), saw my first Brown Thrasher there once I figured out that it had way too long a tail to be a thrush, and tracked down my first Eastern Meadowlark there on a cold March day in 2006.

one of the many lovely trails at Five Rivers Environmental Education Center

My mother had never been to Five Rivers but seeing as she has been bit hard by the photography bug I figured that it would be a great place for us to explore so both of our pastimes could be enjoyed while we decompressed from the stress of the past week. I was right!

 Solitary Sandpiper

Strong winds kept passerine activity to a minimum but we did alright with birds like the Solitary Sandpiper above, an actively hunting American Kestrel, and a bird I was very pleased to see, a Green Heron. Wandering the well-maintained and familiar trails was a joy, and it was great to share a place that I have appreciated so much with my mom. She really enjoyed the visit, the birds, and the company. It was an oasis of calm in a frantic week, a week that got longer when we got back in the car to head home and my mom fielded a call from my aunt to learn that their mom, my grandmother, had taken a fall and was in an ambulance on the way to Kingston Hospital. So that’s where we went, our couple of hours of reprieve over, but able to face the next of life’s difficulties.

Fortunately, after two scans the doctors decided that Nana was alright and she got to go home, and my dad should be released from the hospital on Tuesday. Things get better and whether they do or not there are always some peaceful places to go to get the stress out.

Green Heron

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 and Desmond Shearwater. 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.