Each September, the Saw Mill River Audubon holds the Brinton Brook Sanctuary hike in conjunction with the Hudson Valley Ramble, an organized series of events which occurs in counties along the Hudson River. Our group of 11 this year mostly consisted of SMRA regulars and a few Ramblers. What sets this hike a part from others during the year is our route. Once we reach the northern side of the sanctuary, we cross the back of the golf course to visit the Croton Arboretum. Then we trek the same trail back to Brinton Brook and resume the usual route. This costs an extra mile or so and another hour and a half.
I took part in my third Ramble as the volunteer bird guide. Another humid and hot day today, though more tolerable than last month. I learned not to expect much with this kind of weather, especially in mid-morning. The only constant activity throughout the hike came from Blue Jays, Black-capped Chickadees, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatches, and Red-bellied and Downy Woodpeckers. And without fail, we heard a resident Pileated Woodpecker at one point.
Fall songbird migration was already underway at this point. Sure enough, we had a couple migrants at the warbler corner. We had to first sift through the more obvious year-round birds – jays, titmouse, nuthatches, and woodpeckers – all of which made such a ruckus that I thought they were mobbing a raptor or an owl. Then we finally spotted the warblers. In addition to last month’s sightings of Black-and-white and American Redstart, we caught a quick sight of a Black-throated Green, not yet having morphed into non-breeding plumage, its throat fully black. (Much later, a few of us saw a pair of Black-and-white Warblers.)
This Ramble included a special bird, the Red-breasted Nuthatch: two in Brinton Brook, one in the arboretum. They would have been good birds to see – for everyone in the group – but I only heard them. They sparsely sounded two or three yanks at a time. I was the only one to ID let alone hear them. Still, I was glad that these nuthatches made it to Brinton Brook. Birdwatchers around the county (me included) and even in Central Park had been spying them for the past couple weeks.
The birding didn’t get more exciting than that. Like last time, I zoned out a lot – thinking about the humidity, conversing with friends, trying not to further rip off the rubber sole of my left hiking book. I listened as we walked around the arboretum and kept my eyes open as we walked the power lines, but I observed nothing of interest except the common birds. The power-lines meadow and the woods were quiet. I did enjoy the occasional breeze, the camaraderie that comes with the hike, and the very being in nature.
This month, I counted 23 species. (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S31511377)