Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Scouting Along the River

December 17, 2009
Along the Hudson River

Thursday the 17th, I had a single day off from work, intending to go early to Moreau Park for the first Eagle Watch of the year. Unfortunately, the watch got re-scheduled to the weekend.

Nevertheless, I headed over to that part of the Hudson River, where bald eagles can be seen in the colder months of the year.
At the Park, Eagle Watches are conducted throughout the winter. It's an opportunity to observe local wintering Bald Eagles, and sightings are officially reported. Before the river completely freezes over, eagles can be anywhere in this area - and they have quite a range. It's not until winter really locks up the river that they appear here with some regularity. Those spots of open water by the dams are what seem to attract them. They will feed on fish, and also on deer carcasses. In the summer, most return north to Canada. (For more info about bald eagle migration -- and other seasonal phenomena -- see the excellent website Journey North at

Since it was so sunny today, I thought maybe I'd do some advance scouting of the Spier Falls section of the river. It would be a treat to be out in the late afternoon, when I am usually indoors at work.
There are two boat launches in this pondy section of the river, with Spier Falls Dam between them. First stop: the Lower Boat Launch.
At 2:30 pm, the sun was already sinking behind one rim of the river valley.

But what a valley it is!

Looking downriver, the steep flank of West Mountain rises high as the river zigs and zags past steep hills.

The river was still wide open, with shelves of thin ice on the edges. The river is slower to freeze, due to the current and the varying flow-rates caused by the dam.

Ice was forming in the brook that oozes down to join the river. At first glance, it's difficult to tell what is solid, and what is a reflection.

At the Upper Boat Launch, which is a mile or so above the dam, the river takes a sharp bend. There's a small cove to one side, and you can see up and down the river easily from here.

In midwinter this is the prime spot for seeing bald eagles -- but alas, if they were there, I didn't see them.

I spent some time admiring ice crystals along the shore. The ice is slowly, inevitably, taking over.
All the drama of a glacier, on a small scale.

The sun sank ever lower, and a cold shadow crept across the river.
Suddenly, one last beam of sunlight shot into the cove, and lit up this pine like ... a Christmas tree.


  1. Such beautiful photos of my favorite place on earth! I feel blessed to have close to me a place of such natural beauty, and even more blessed to have a friend with the skill to capture that beauty in photos. Merry Christmas, dear Sue, with hopes for lots of happy hiking together in the coming New Year.

  2. Hopes for hiking ... and boating, walking, just hanging-out, too!
    So glad I have met you - you have showed me some beautiful places I didn't even know existed - and helped me see new things in the old familiar places, too !
    Have a happy Christmas, & hope to see you before next year.