Winter Solstice Walk & Christmas Bird Count

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JBNHS’ photographer Peter Schoenberger is a local electrician (Shokan Electric) who carries his camera around to get great birding shots like these.


When a big snowstorm like last weekend’s hits, do you worry about making sure that your bird feeders are well-stocked before you think about digging out your car? If so, the onset of winter is the time for you to look into the upcoming activities of the John Burroughs Natural History Society. There’s nothing quite so bright and cheery this time of year as the sight of a cardinal poised against a snowy backdrop, and the Society will make sure that you get the opportunity to see some in the wild.

This Saturday, December 21, the group is organizing a Winter Solstice Walk in Rosendale with a mystery destination, described as “a new area that might offer good birding now and for a future spring outing.” Meet in the parking lot of the Associated Market at Fann’s Plaza on Route 32 at 8 a.m. for an easy two-mile walk (with some uphill) in the Rosendale area. Afterwards, there will be opportunities for fellowship, refreshment and holiday shopping in the friendly, folksy village. Contact trip leader Lin Fagan at (845) 339-2054 or [email protected] to register for this outing or for more information.

Once Christmas is past, many of us look for fun ways to burn off a few of those calories that we packed on from the rounds of holiday socializing. What better way than a ramble in the snowy landscape spotting birds, which offer the best chance outdoors this time of year to fill our eyes with vivid color and motion? On Saturday, December 28, weather permitting, the Burroughs Society will once again take the lead in sending teams of birders afield for the annual Ulster/Dutchess manifestation of the Christmas Bird Count. The project claims the honor of being the longest-running citizen science effort in the world.

Centered in Glasco, the regional “count circle” is nearly bisected by the Hudson River and includes parts of Ulster, Dutchess, Greene and Columbia Counties. The wide variety of habitats and bird-rich locations within the circle promises to make this an exciting day in the field. Last year’s count netted a very respectable 92 species and more than 18,000 individual birds. A compilation dinner to follow the count will be held at the stone building in Kingston’s Hasbrouck Park.

If you’d like to join a field party in one of the ten designated sectors, or if your residence lies within the circle and you’d like to maintain a feeder watch on that day, contact Mark DeDea at (845) 339-1277 or [email protected] or Peter Schoenberger at (914) 466-2707 or [email protected] for your assigned location. Be prepared for a full day out of doors. DeDea can also supply details about the compilation get-together afterward and protocols for submission of records, as well as weather postponement information.

Those of us of the opinion that bird feeders are more fun than television are well aware of those times when our feathery friends hang back – even in cold weather with lots of snow cover when they’re hungriest. That’s when we know to keep a sharp eye out for the hawk lurking in some nearby tree, hoping to make a meal off an unwary songbird breaking cover to visit a feeder. But raptors need to eat, too, and seeing one is always a thrill.

On Sunday, January 4, the Burroughs Society will be leading its popular Wallkill Valley Raptors outing, which involves minimal walking. You’ll drive among various roadside vantage points between New Paltz and Wallkill, including Blue Chip and Watchtower Farms, with stops along the Wallkill River, the Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge in Galeville and the Ulster County Fairgrounds. Wintering raptors and waterfowl, as well as “half-hardies,” will be the focus on this outing.

Meet to carpool at 8 a.m. at the New Paltz Municipal Parking Lot off Huguenot Street, just east of the Wallkill River. For more information on this outing, e-mail Christine Guarino at [email protected] For more on the many activities organized all year long by the John Burroughs Natural History Society, visit

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