Posts Tagged With: Ithaca

A serenade with the birds

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Something was different in today’s morning encounter with nature. Given that I could recognize no  bird other than a crow a week ago, I managed to spot a Blue Jay, Cardinal, Robin and of course a crow during my morning jog. All thanks to the bird walk along Sapsucker Woods Sanctuary trails guided by members of the Cayuga Bird Club which I went on last Sunday. 

Impressed by this video –, I always longed to visit Cornell lab of ornithology.  I checked their website and was glad to know that Cayuga Bird Club conducted free guided bird walks at 7.30 AM every Saturday and Sunday in the woods around the lab. We had rented a car previous day and along with 4 friends from Cornell I did a great job in getting up early and making it to woods on time. We waited patiently for club members to show up. We could see that people there had huge cameras and binoculars and I didn’t realize their importance until later. At around 7:30 AM, a club member named Becky Hansen joined us. We were more happy to have her company, for she came with a bunch of awesome binoculars which turned out to be extremely helpful during the bird walk. It was funny that we were there for bird watching and didn’t even know how to calibrate the binoculars.

Around 15 of us were there and everyone followed Becky with a fresh energy and morning smile.  We went to a small bridge overlooking a lake where Goose were in abundant. Like small kids we soon started enjoying seeing the geese and other birds around with our binoculars. I felt it best to view with my glasses on for better clarity.

We then took a trail and reached another lake where we spotted few more birds. Becky explained why exactly the birds serenade and it was interesting knowing few other facts too. Unlike in humans, male birds have an upper hand in beauty.  We continued along the trail and spotted a Sapsucker (A version of woodpecker) after which the surrounding woods is named. I had never seen wood-pecking in action and it was fun watching it live. Soon we spotted Cardinal, Blue Jay, Robins, Kingfisher, Red Crowned, Kingfisher, Red-headed woodpecker, etc. It was simply soothing to see the array of bright colors in these birds. Binoculars were great and we took in everything we could and had our sweet fun. Once the bird is spotted, letting others know about the exact position of the bird in the woods is also an art. Some people had funny ways of telling this.

A great Blue Heron was chilling at the lake near the viewing platform and everyone got an amazing view of it while it stood on one leg. Cardinal was actually easy to recognize given its bright red color and I could spot it without anybody’s help. I also became acquainted with its distinguishing chirp. Humorously, I was termed as Cardinal expert by Becky.

Along the way Becky told us to be aware of the Poison Ivy weed and we also could see the matrices of holes on the trees created by woodpeckers. We walked few more distance around and it was at the final bridge which was on a swampy area were we saw huge of number of birds, especially the Red-Winged Blackbird. I was taken aback with its beauty and I just wowed. Realizing how impressed I was Becky said, “You were attracted by the beauty, imagine how it could be for the female birds”. Soaking in all the beauty and sounds we completed the walk at around 9:30 AM and thanked Becky for the beautiful morning. Along with my morning jog I now can recognize more birds.

Nikhil Navali

Categories: Cornell, Ithaca, Life | Tags: , | Leave a comment

A fitting welcome to USA – Robert H. Treman State park

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I got the most amazing welcome in United States of America – a beautiful hike with localites at a state park in upstate NY coupled with pleasant weather.

It had been two days of juggling around since my arrival in Ithaca. Although I didn’t know what to expect, I was looking forward to visit a state park. It had been four-and-a-half months since my last trek (owing to a leg injury). I had learnt about the hike a couple of months ago (back in India), courtesy, and RSVP’d immediately. I consider meetups an easy way to go on trips and meet people at a new place.

The hike planned was at Robert H Treman State Park. The park is located around 4.5 miles to the south West of Ithaca. Since I was new to the place and didn’t want to walk all the way there I contacted Michelle, who organized the meet-up, for help reaching there. She happily agreed and offered a ride to and fro. We all reached the parking lot and after brief instructions started our hike. The group was very friendly and welcomed me with warm smile. Few in the group were surprised about me being there since I had been in Ithaca for less than half a week. I felt that upstate New York was more or less like Western Ghats (in India) – full of greenery, with streams making their way through the hills.


I learnt that the hiking trails in such state parks are usually a loop around a short length of river with numerous cute waterfalls along the way. We started with Gorge trail. Everyone hiked at their own pace. From the start we walked through thick jungle with tall trees towering over us. Greenery was abundant and I loved every bit of it. Some parts of the trail were just flat paths through the woods and some had railings to cover the steep descent. The trail went beside waters and beautiful gorges with small waterfalls adding beauty to it. I really enjoyed seeing people of all ages hiking the trail – children and oldies included. The weather added to the charm – the sun peeking in the jungle occasionally and giving us the much needed warmth in the usually cold region.

We shifted to Red Pine trail which had a steep ascent to reach the top of the state park (half-way). It was here where I realized that Americans have really taken care to maintain such trails and parks. There was abundant place for picnicking, with grills to cook on and benches to rest. There was an old wheat flour mill, built in late 18th century, which belonged to Treman family. They donated this piece of land to NY state (and hence the name of the park). It was quite an experience seeing multistoried old mill with huge gears and containers.

After a small break, we carried on to the Rim trail. Soon we had a view on the biggest waterfalls of the park which was nestled in a gorge. Then after around 2.5 mile of downhill hike we came back near the other side of the parking lot. There were cabins, swim area below a small fall, children’s play area, and huge landscape of lawn to make it a perfect place for a weekend getaway. I was left awed at the cleanliness, greenery and peace in the park. I agree that I haven’t done justice in using the right words in explaining the features of a state park and the beauty. Will try to get better with more hikes.

I am glad I went to the hike with total strangers even though I was only 3 days old in an entirely different continent. I thank Michelle for being an enthusiastic host and all others for a friendly welcome to the United States of America.

Best viewed in 480p or above :

Nikhil Navali

Categories: Adventure, Ithaca, Travel | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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