Hackensack River Canoe & Kayak Club

paddling for over a third of a century

A Couple Of Winter Days Along The Hudson
by Bob Rancan

Saturday, January 28, 2012

It’s been a warm winter, just one snowstorm and no ice flows out in the Hudson.

Seventeen of us went looking for wintering bald eagles on the Westchester side of the river on January 28th. With four previous years trips yielding between 20 and 40 eagles each we were looking forward to a good day. We had a perfect weather day…warm and very little wind but eagles were scarce. We saw 2 adults at the Croton River, none at Dogan’s Point or Verplanck. Finally, at our last stop at Fleischmann’s (China) Pier in Peekskill, we had 6. The warm weather encouraged everyone to walk out on the long pier and find three adult eagles perched downriver on Indian Point. Another three were flying out over the river.

According to reports in this winter’s Hudson River Almanac, it seems that the lack of ice upriver in the usually frozen north has kept the northern residents closer to home. But there’s always something to see and we had great looks at a belted kingfisher, an American Coot, a half dozen Eastern Bluebirds and several red tail hawks. In fact, the pair of red tails at the Croton Landfill were very close, one even letting us pass directly under his perch. And the hawk actually holding position in the wind at Verplanck was a sight to behold.

On February 4 we hiked the Shore Trail north from Alpine Boat Basin: no wind, temperatures in the high forties. The river was calm, the woods were still. However, if you look, you find. We had a pair of red tails (one with a meal) move only after we lingered near their perch for several minutes. A disappointing total of two bufflehead ducks but at least they were two males in full plumage and were close in to the shore. Five American Black ducks rounded out the day but the highlight was definitely the pair of peregrine falcons perched high above us on the cliffs just south of State Line Lookout. We were at first unsure if we had one or two but on our return trip they obliged by flying off together. Thrilling!

Thanks to my friends Alec and Hillary Malyon from the Palisades Nature Assn. for as always, bringing the spotting scope and extra large camera lenses for the close-ups and to Laurie Cochran and Janet Rancan for their photos as well. Thanks to all who joined the huge car caravan to the various watching points and to the thirteen members who hiked with me in Alpine. I’m sorry I stop every couple of minutes for another story or piece of trivia.


> Photos