in Columbia County
Last updated 3/21/06
Lasher Park (11)
Greenport Cons Area (8)Hand
Valley Rail Trail (22)Harvey
Boat Launch (9)
Lake Taghkanic SP (19)Lewis
A. Swyer Prsv (4)M
VanBuren Nature Trail (13)Nutten
Rheinstrom Hill (17)Stockport
M. Powell Sanctuary(1)
Wilson M. Powell Sanctuary*
The preserve, protected by the Columbia County Land Conservancy, is owned
by Alan Devoe Bird Club and provides a great deal of natural diversity
in approximately 145 acres including a stream, a marshy area, glades and
Reilly Pond. The Sanctuary provides habitat for Barred Owls, Common Ravens,
Veery, Louisiana Waterthrushes and many other song birds. There is a small
marshy pond and fern-caparisoned stream valley, and the cliff face itself
holds treasures of ferns and lichens not found elsewhere in the Sanctuary.
Dorson’s Rock, overlooking the magnificent Hudson Valley offers
opportunities for hawk watching and unusual flora. Do take a short hike
up to Dorson’s Rock for panoramic views across the Hudson Valley
to the distant Catskill Mountains, scanning the sky for Red-shouldered,
Red-tailed and Broad-winged Hawks.
Located off County Route 13, one mile southwest of the intersection
of CR 13 and the Old Albany Turnpike (Old Chatham Village Square), take
Pitt Hall Road, then a left on Hunt Club Road, Sanctuary entrance on right.
2. Ooms Conservation Area at Sutherland
Recently acquired from private owners, this public use pond hosts many
migrating ducks, herons and swallows. Eastern Meadowlarks, Bobolinks and
Savannah Sparrows are usually present in the surrounding fields. Ospreys
are another occasional treat.
The 180 acre Ooms Conservation Area at Sutherland Pond contains a scenic
pastoral landscape with open grassland and aquatic habitat that attracts
a high diversity of bird species. This property is a wonderful place to
bring your family on a picnic, as a leisurely stroll provides visitors
with spectacular panoramic views of rolling countryside and the Taconic
From the traffic circle in Chatham Village go north
on Highland Avenue about 3 miles. Turn right on Rock City Road and go
about 1 miles to the intersection of Hartigan Road. Ooms Pond is called
Sutherland Pond on many maps.
3. Borden’s Pond
A joint project of the Borden’s Pond Preserve and the Columbia Land
Conservancy is located within walking distance of the village of Chatham.
A lower trail leads visitors along a small stream to a pond overlook with
trails leading to an upland forest. Additional site improvements are underway
on the property including additional parking area improvements, trial
markers and footbridges.
From the center of the Village of Chatham, follow Route
203 east. Follow signs for the Taconic State Parkway. Just past the Payne
Home on the left, look for the Borden’s Conservation Area sign on
your left. Follow gravel driveway into parking area.
4. Lewis A. Swyer Preserve
A well-managed boardwalk winds through a tidal floodplain swamp among
Mill Creek to its confluence with the Hudson River. Listen in the early
hours for the tremulous whistle of the Eastern Screech-Owl, which nests
here regularly. Search the canopy for Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers, Great Crested
Flycatchers, and Yellow-throated Vireos. Some years, hundreds of Rusty
Blackbirds rest here during their migration flight. At the end of the
trail a viewing platform overlooks the river.
North of the hamlet of Stuyvesant, on State Route 9J,
western side, park on western shoulder of Rt 9J and follow signs.
5. Stuyvesant Landing
This site offers good views of the river and should deliver ducks, geese,
and cormorants nearly any time of the year. Common Loons have been spotted
here, along with Common Goldeneyes, Buffleheads, Red-breasted Mergansers,
American Coot, the rare Great Cormorant and Bald Eagles.
Turn off Rt 9J onto Riverview Street.
6. Nutten Hook:
Scan the river opposite the town of Coxsackie for ducks, geese, and herons.
In winter, rare gulls such as Glaucous, Lesser Black-backed and Iceland
Gulls appear. Take a short walk along the small reed marsh and watch for
Marsh Wrens, Willow Flycatchers, Yellow Warblers and Swamp Sparrows. The
southern cove offers a place to put canoes in the water to paddle through
the marsh to the south.
Turn off Rt 9J onto Ferry Road south of the hamlet of
7. Stockport Flats*
This area of freshwater tidal wetlands and freshwater marshes is among
the rarest ecosystems in the world. Belted Kingfishers and Bank Swallows
burrow nesting holes into the soft, sandy cliffs of Stockport Middle Ground
Island. In spring and fall, look for Least, Spotted and Solitary Sandpipers,
and Wilson’s Snipe. Scan the inlet coves and islands for waterfowl
and always keep an eye to the sky for Osprey and Bald Eagles.
Turn off Rt 9 in Stockport onto CR 22.
8. Greenport Conservation Area*
Take a walk through the fields managed by the Columbia Land Conservancy
as habitat for birds such as Boblinks, Field Sparrow and Meadowlarks.
Eastern Bluebirds nest in boxes along the trails, as do Tree Swallows
and House Wrens. Visit in late April or May for American Woodcocks.
Turn off Rt 9 (Fairview Avenue) onto Joslen Blvd.
9. Hudson Boat Launch
Visit any time of year and scan the water and island for Great Blue Herons,
Great Egrets, Wood Ducks, Osprey, Belted Kingfishers, Fish Crows and Bank
Swallows. You may spot a Bald Eagle. South Bay, the adjacent cattail marsh,
is one of the few places in the mid-Hudson Valley where Virginia Rail,
Sora, and Least Bittern have been known to nest. Listen for the Marsh
Wren among the nearby reeds.
Turn off South Front Street in the City of Hudson onto
10. Olana State Historic Site
This site is the former estate of Hudson River School painter Frederic
Church. Is has many popular wooded trails that attract several species
of woodpeckers, vireos, warblers, and sparrows. Watch for Scarlet Tanagers
in the canopy overhead and listen for the spring song of the Red-eyed
Vireo. The Pileated Woodpecker has been known to breed here. Magnificent
Hudson River and Catskill Mountain views.
Rt 9G, south of the Rip Van Winkle Bridge.
11. Ernest R. Lasher Memorial Park at the Germantown
The spot is excellent for watching resident and migrating waterfowl. Ducks
that can be seen: Gadwall, Greater and Lesser Scaup, Canvasback, Northern
Pintail, Common Mergansers, Mallards, American Black Ducks and Canada
Geese. Rare winter visitors include Tundra Swan, Long-tailed Duck, and
Follow boat launch signs from Rt 9G, north of Germantown,
onto Anchorage Road.
12. Clermont State Historic Site
Originally the home of the Livingstons, a Hudson River Estate with landscapes
and gardens. Good views of the river. This site offers several trails
that attract many migrating songbirds. Scan the river in fall and winter
for large flocks of migrant geese and ducks. In the spring, listen for
Magnolia Warblers, Black-throated Green Warblers, and Black-throated Blue
Warblers. In the summer, listen for Eastern Towhees and Overbirds.
Follow signs from Rt 9G, south of Germantown.
13. Martin Van Buren Nature Trail
Take a short walk through the hardwood trails to see Hairy Woodpeckers,
Wild Turkeys, American Redstarts, Baltimore Orioles and other songbirds.
Afterwards, cross over to Lindenwald, the retirement home of Martin Van
Buren, 8th President of the United States. The home is managed by the
National Park Service.
Parking off Rt 9H directly across from the Martin Van
Buren National Historic Site.
14. Hand Hollow Conservation Area*
The Hand Hollow Conservation Area of the Columbia County Land Conservancy
was opened to the public on 5/22/2005. Trails available to beaver ponds
and wetlands, burbling brooks, cascading down a trail. A Great Blue Heron
rookery is in this wetland environment. Hand Hollow is set in rolling
hills of New Lebanon totaling 383 acres, consisting of three contiguous
lobes. A western lobe, a central lobe with the beaver ponds and heron
rookery, and an eastern lobe. Each lobe has its own parking area. The
site has several diverse ecosystems. Although the site is predominately
hardwood forest, home to forest bird species, the eastern and western
extremities of the site are anchored by ponds, one of 21 acres. The varied
habitat of the central and most accessible part of the site has stands
of conifers, meadow and marshland as well as a stream beaded with five
ponds, three constructed by beavers. This varied habitat at the center
of the preserve is particularly suited for birding by individuals having
limited mobility. The ponds have attracted belted kingfisher, osprey and
great blue heron. The meadow is patrolled by swallows and kingbirds and
phoebes sortie out from trees on the periphery. Moderate to more strenuous
trails connect the center of the site to the extremities.
From the intersection of Route 22 and US20, go west on
US20, turn left on CR 5, proceeding south to the intersection with CR
34. Turn right and proceed to the intersection of CR 34 with CR 9. As
you prepare to turn right you will see across the road the farmhouse that
marks the parking lot of the Hand Hollow preserve immediately on the left,
marked by the distinctive green and white logo of the Columbia Land Conservancy.
15. Beebe Hill State Forest
In spring and summer Beebe Hill State Forest hosts many birds such
as Cedar Waxwings, Scarlet Tanagers, flycatchers, swallows, warblers,
Mallards as well as other ducks, and occasional Osprey. In winter there
are cross country ski trails. Look for deer, animal tracks, woodpeckers,
nuthatches, and Ruffed Grouse. Spring Wake Robin (Trillium) and other
plants can be found here. Climb the fire tower at the top of Beebe Mountain.
Start at the intersection of Rt. 22 and Rt. 203 in the
hamlet of Austerlitz. Go north on Rt. 22 for a short distance and turn
left on CR 5. Follow this 1.6 miles to Barrett Pond (also known as Osmer
Pond) to the left. An old woods road to Beebe Hill departs to the left
just beyond the pond.
16. Harvey Mountain State Forest
This northern hardwood forest is a continuation of the habitat found in
western Massachusetts and Vermont. Nearly 1600 acres of hemlock and birch
host Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Hermit Thrushes, Red-breasted Nuthatches
and Blue-headed Vireos. This is a good place to search for irruptive northern
species such as Pine Siskin, Common Redpoll, and Crossbills, which may
be found feeding on hemlock and spruce cones.
Turn off Rt 22 onto East Hill Road (Austerlitz), park
17. Rheinstrom Hill Audubon Center and Sanctuary
This 1,037 acres preserve is managed by the Audubon New York and provides
a variety of habitats for nesting and migrating birds.
From Rt 23, go south onto CR 7, turn left onto Cambridge
18. Copake Lake
Visit any time of the year, but especially in fall and winter when other
summer recreational activities on this small lake are less intruding.
Many northern diving ducks stop here in early spring to rest before flying
the rest of the way to Canada. Some unusual winter visitors include Red-throated
Loons, Tundra Swans and Red-breasted Mergansers.
From Rt. 23, go south onto CR 7, to public parking at
corner of Lake View Road and CR 7.
19. Lake Taghkanic State Park*
Brown Thrashers and Prairie Warblers nest in the low shrubs each year.
Red oak-white pine forests shelter numerous Wild Turkeys, Barred Owls,
Ruffed Grouse and many warblers, thrushes and vireos. Take the Fitness
Trail to several different habitats, from low scrub to hardwood forest,
to wet fields, to the open water of Lake Taghkanic.
Follow Rt 82 south of the Taconic State Parkway or exit
off the Taconic State Parkway (northbound side)
20. Taconic State Park
This large park contains some of the highest elevations in Columbia County,
including Washburn Mountain and the small peaks leading to Bash Bish Falls.
Uncommon warblers, such as Worm-eating Warbler and Hooded Warbler, appear
occasionally. Listen for Dark-eyed Juncos, While-throated Sparrows and
the Black-throated Green Warbler.
Turn off Rt 22 onto Rt 344, follow the signs to the park entrance.
21. Drowned Lands Swamp Conservation Area*
Check the open red maple swamp for Barred Owl, Green Herons, American
Bitterns, Alder Flycatchers, Wood Ducks and Swamp Sparrows. The Town of
Ancram is sparsely populated and has many surroundings open fields, perfect
habitat for American Kestrels, Rough-legged Hawks, Eastern Meadowlark
and Horned Larks. You may find a Lapland Longspur or a flock of Snow Buntings
From Route 22 North: Follow Route 22 south through Hillsdale
and Copake. Turn right onto Route 3 and follow it as it bends to the left.
Proceed past Wiltsie Bridge Road, Blodget Road, and pass over the Punch
Brook. The entrance to the conservation area is just past the Punch Brook
on the left. Look for the Drowned Lands Swamp Conservation Area sign.
22. Harlem Valley Rail Trail
This former railroad bed was converted into a paved public trail running
from Copake Falls south through Taconic State Park. This trail passes
through several fields and woods, along ponds and wetlands on its way
through the Taconic highlands, affording a perfect opportunity to look
for birds in many different habitats. Rare birds such as Prothonotary
Warblers and Yellow-throated Warblers have been spotted here.
Follow Rt 22 to Rt 344 (Copake Falls), parking at entrance
to Taconic State Park.
* Detailed writeups are available
for Alander Mountain and the Harlem Valley, Drowned Lands Swamp, Greenport
Conservation Area, Hand Hollow Conservation Area, Lake Taghkanic State
Park, Mill Creek Marsh Preserve, Oom's Conservation Area, Rheinstrom Hill,
Stockport Station, and Wilson Powell Sanctuary in the book Birding
New York's Hudson-Mohawk Region, published by the Hudson-Mohawk
Bird Club. Information about this book can be found on the Hudson-Mohawk
Bird Club website.
Many thanks to Bob Carroll, Bill Cook, Richard
Guthrie, Nancy Kern, and Will Yandik, ADBC Club Members, for the research
and text for some site descriptions. Thanks also to Columbia County Tourism.