The call, long and drawn out, echoed off the trees surrounding the pond. A red-winged blackbird.
A black-capped chickadee.
The harsh cry of a
These and other bird songs and calls made a choral background for my Sunday morning leisurely ramble along the Wilson Trail at Cornell University’s Sapsucker Woods in Ithaca, New York.
This short trail winds through the wooded area surrounding the lily pad-covered Sapsucker Woods Pond, habitat to a wide variety of bird species and other wildlife.
Birdwatching, or birding, has been one of my favorite hobbies since elementary school. And Sapsucker Woods, which is a little less than a two-hour drive from Clarks Summit, is one of my favorite birding hotspots outside of my backyard. Another is Cape May Point State Park in Cape May Point, New Jersey.
But one does not need to travel outside the Abingtons to find great birding opportunities. Our local parks and trails are full of them.
Here are a few of my favorites and just some of the many species commonly sighted there:
Lackawanna State Park
The shores of Lackawanna Lake at the Lackawanna State Park provide a perfect feeding place for wading birds, such as great blue herons, that hunt for small fish and frogs. These gangly yet graceful, prehistoric-looking creatures are easy to spot – even through the tall reeds – as they slowly stalk their prey, preparing to strike with their dagger-like bills. I’ve also spotted the smaller but just as beautiful green herons (or “up the creek herons” as they are nicknamed) there, although not as often as the great blue. And during fall migration season, the park is graced by great egrets, with their pure-white bodies, long, black legs and bills and orange feet.
Lake Eston Wilson at Hillside Park is also a common place for great blue heron sightings.
But what impresses me most about this small park is the wide variety of birds to be seen there. I’ve often left with a long list of different birds counted on one short walk. This often includes robins, various species of sparrows and woodpeckers, red-winged blackbirds, cardinals mallards, wood thrushes, house wrens, chickadees and more.
This spring I was delighted to find a pair of yellow-bellied sapsuckers feeding their young, nesting high in a dead tree alongside one of the park’s wooded trails.
South Abington Park
This park is home to many (if not all) of the same species mentioned above in reference to Hillside Park.
When walking on both the dirt and paved paths that run alongside the creek, I most often encounter robins and various sparrows, but I’ve seen different kinds of hawks there as well – perhaps taking a break from foraging for roadkill just up the hill on Interstate 81.
And when the creek waters are low, various songbirds can be seen splashing about in the shallow pools between the large rocks, cooling off from the hot sun.
Do you have a favorite birding spot or spots in the Abingtons and beyond? I’d love to hear from you about the places you go and any unusual birds you’ve seen here at home.