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Bull Hill

Hudson Highlands State Park, NY

sunny 40 °F

My dad was in town this weekend with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to play in Carnegie Hall, so today the two of us took the Hudson line of the Metro North Railroad up to Hudson Highlands State Park to hike Bull Hill.

Now, don’t be confused by the name “hill:” Bull Hill is one of the highest mountains in the Hudson Highlands area, and the loop hike to the summit and around the mountain includes 1400 feet of elevation gain and 8 miles of hiking in total. A true butt-kicker!

Since the Hudson line parallels first the East, and then the Hudson Rivers, I spent a lot of time looking for both waterfowl and migrating raptors which use the Hudson River Valley as a migration path. As well as a few REDHEAD, these BUFFLEHEAD were seen along the journey:
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As well as a distant look at an Eagle sp — whether it is an immature Bald or the rarer Golden, I will never know. It is hard to photograph from trains!
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We disembarked the train at the Cold Springs station, and after refueling at a local bakery, were on our way towards the trailhead. There were a few feeders in this very cute town with common species such as BLUE JAY:
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And HOUSE FINCH:
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My first identifiable raptor of the day came in the form of this TURKEY VULTURE:
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Soon, I also spotted its much less common cousin in these parts, the BLACK VULTURE! (separated from the Turkey Vulture by the Black’s diagnostic whitish wing tips)
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As we ascended the mountain using the fairly steep trail, the views across the Hudson became increasingly beautiful:
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One of many CAROLINA WRENS seen today gave wonderful views:
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Female DARK-EYED JUNCO:
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The views from the top of the mountain were just stunning. And even though we were on an exposed summit and it was just above freezing, wind was almost nonexistent, making for very enjoyable conditions under a winter parka.
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I noticed a decent raptor movement from the top of the peak, including this RED-SHOULDERED HAWK, my first for New York state: note its heavily-banded tail.
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Its more common cousin the RED-TAILED HAWK was also present:
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And then, a stranger-looking hawk came in to view. It was very clearly an Accipiter (bird-eating) species, but it was extremely bulky in its build & had heavy chest marking and thick banding on the underside of its tail. With all these field marks in mind, the identification of this bird is extremely clear: first-year NORTHERN GOSHAWK! Too cool — a very uncommon find for this part of the state, and one that was not even on my radar for today!
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The views of nearby Breakneck Ridge were stunning on the last leg of our hike.
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SONG SPARROW:
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While waiting for the Metro-North at Breakneck Ridge, my dad and I were afforded some decent views of CEDAR WAXWINGS:
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And the train arrived right on time: 1:09pm. The Breakneck Ridge station’s sole purpose is to pick up & drop off hikers, so the platform is accordingly quaint.
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Here are some stats for our hike today:
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What a fun day, huge thanks to my dad for hiking with me! Bird-of-the-day to the Northern Goshawk with runners-up to the Black Vulture & Red-shouldered Hawk.

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 977 Species

Posted by skwclar 17:28 Archived in USA

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Comments

I enjoy all your posts Henry. I hiked Breakneck Ridge several times when I lived in New York. I love that area.

by Joanne Dusatko

Sounds like a wonderful day with your dad!

by Poo

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