July Bird Walk Sunken Mine Rd

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On Saturday, July 20th, the Putnam Highlands Audubon Society (PHAS) led their “Third Saturdays” walk through Sunken Mine Rd in Clarence Fahnestock State Park. Leaders from PHAS included Lew Kingsley, Perry Pitt, “Puffin Pete” Salmansohn, Peter Conway, Ryan J Bass, and Kyle Bardwell.

The 20 participants enjoyed a rich and diverse experience, not just of birds, but of all flora, fauna, and other winged creatures. We hope you enjoy these photographs, which were taken by Kyle Bardwell, a PHAS board member.

Despite the heat, the tenacious Red-eyed Vireo provided a background chorus throughout out walk. The Red-eyed Vireo sings a series of cheery notes, alternating between upslurs and downslurs. To the observer, it seems like a philosophical bird, asking a question and then answering it, “Here I am, Where are you? In the tree, Who am I? Same as you, Who are you?” Often heard and not seen, the Red-eyed Vireo enjoys life in the canopy of trees, foraging for insects.

In addition to the birds, we observed Red-spotted Purple, Red Admiral, and Northern Pearly Eye butterflies.

Although not quite an adult butterfly, we observed a Monarch caterpillar feeding on Common Milkweed. The caterpillar goes through (5) stages, called instars, before the chrysalis stage. We estimated this caterpillar to be in the 3rd instar. As the larval host, milkweed is necessary for the Monarch’s development. If you are interested in planting a butterfly garden, it is important to consider native plants, which our butterflies need before they earn their wings!

Remarkably, the American Chestnut can be found growing in Fahnestock SP. Considered functionally extinct by the USDA, the American Chestnut tree (Castanea dentata) once dominated Eastern forests before succumbing to the blight fungus over a century ago. “The chestnut blight has been called the greatest ecological disaster to strike the world’s forests in all of history.” -- The American Chestnut Foundation

A checklist of the birds seen or heard was submitted to Cornell Lab of Ornithology's eBird Project. To view our checklist, please click this link: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S58315342

Our next “Third Saturdays” walk is scheduled for August 17th in partnership with the Hudson Highlands Land Trust at Granite Mountain Preserve. The event is currently at capacity, but should you wish to be added to the waiting list, please e-mail us at: phas@putnamhighlandsaudubon.org

The “Third Saturdays” walks are free and open to the public, guided by volunteers, and supported entirely through donations. Should you wish to donate, please visit www.putnamhighlandsaudubon.org or mail a check to the address listed below.