Birding in the Hudson Valley

Blue Bunting

Blue Bunting

With the onset of spring, the spring birds are starting to appear! Spring is a great time for birding walks, as birds are most active in the spring and fall, and in some cases more colorful as well! Many different species find homes here because the region has such a variety of habitats from fields, to mountains to woodlands, as well as marshes, springs and lake areas. Almost two hundred species of birds live and breed in the Hudson Valley area, and numerous others migrate through on the eastern migration flyway which runs through the valley.

Identifying birds is a four step process. First, judge the bird’s size and shape, Second, look for its predominant color pattern and any markings it may have. Third, take note of its behavior: how it flys for example, does it swoop up and down? soar on the wind? land on a branch from above or fly up to it from below, and factor in what habitat it’s in. Identifying these details can more accurately find what type and species of bird it may be. Remember because the Hudson Valley is on the eastern migration flyway you may catch a glimpse of a rare migratory bird passing through.

A few tips to remember when you go birding, if you find baby birds on the ground, the first temptation is to pick them up and try to replace them in a nest if it’s reachable. It is a good rule of thumb to wear gloves (preferably plastic) if doing this for several reasons. One, birds do carry mites and harbor other bacteria, and some bird species will not re-accept a baby bird if it smells like a human being. Immature birds just learning to fly may be also be on their first flights, and have a parent close by watching (which you may not be able to see). Sharon Audubon has a nice list of dos and don’ts as well to keep in mind on your birding walks.

All you need for bird watching is a good bird field guide and a set of binoculars. To make your hike more interesting, bring a camera (or smart phone) and a journal, you never know what you might come across that you may want to take a picture of, or to draw a quick sketch of.  Many field guides are now also available as smartphone apps. Audubon Birds, A Field Guide to North American Birds and BirdsEye Bird Finding Guide  as well as CornellLab Bird Q&A.  A terrific resource of where to go birding locally in the Hudson Valley can be found here 

Some upcoming events of interest locally this weekend to come check out!

Maplefest and Maple Bake Sale at the Sharon Audubon Center
(Less than 10 minutes from Amenia)
Saturday, March 19th, 2016, 10:00 am-4:00 pm
Admission: $6 Adults, $4 Children 12 and under
On-going guided 45-minute tours will lead visitors through the Center’s sugaring operation, including a working sugarhouse and a re-creation of Native American and early colonial sugaring methods.  Participants can watch as pure sugar maple sap is collected from the trees and turned into delicious maple syrup.  Fresh syrup will be available for purchase while supplies last.  Admission for the event is $6.00 adults and $4.00 children (2 and under free.) Wear warm clothes and boots, as much of the tour is outdoors.
Visit Sharon Audubon for more information.

Maple Weekends at the home of Crown Maple at Madava Farms
(Less than 15 minutes from Amenia)
Saturday, March 19, 2016 to Sunday, March 20, 2016
Enjoy everything from complimentary maple syrup and maple sugar tastings to maple cotton candy, and even maple popcorn! No tickets required
Visit Crown Maple at Madava for more information.


Hosting Guests Who’ve Never Stayed at a Bed ‘n Breakfast

Observations on the best part of owning our BnB.
Because we’re located in Dutchess County, midway up New York State, and bordering on relatively rural Connecticut and southern Massachusets, we are literally surrounded by boarding schools. That said, we have quite a few international guests; most of them these days come from different parts of China where they don’t have BnB’s.Hilltop HouseIt’s interesting to watch as new guests in their rental cars pull into our parking lot. You can see that they are unsure they are in the right place as they reluctantly make their way in the door. I welcome them, show them their room and go thru the routine. It’s fun to watch as they start to relax–maybe by the fireplace–and appreciate the cozy and welcoming atmosphere that is so completely different than a more formal or generic hotel. You see there aren’t many motels in Amenia, and none garner the consistent ratings that we get at Hilltop House.
By the time they come down for breakfast, they have big smiles on their faces and say how much at home they feel and how comfortable and beautiful it is. They always take pictures of their breakfast and the house and most want pics with the innkeeper. I’ll say it again: This is the best part of my business.


Infamy, and the Day by the Same Name

I decided to google my own town of Amenia, NY, in the Hudson Valley and see what if any events were listed. The site that came up didn’t do much on the events side, but provided a huge reminder that December 7th is Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. That was huge for me in context of what is happening all around the world, and even in the US now (San Bernadino, CA). This was a major invasion of Democracy and nearly depleted the US naval forces in the Pacific. It marked the sea change of sea changes that got America off to war and with it, the men and women willing to fight. Any video footage from that day makes my heart tremble; the destruction was so massive.

I just want to say “thank you” to the men and women today, who serve our country in many ways to protect it and our rights. From the bottom of our hearts.


Happy Thanksgiving from All of Us at Hilltop House B n’ B

turkeygrapewreath2It’s always good to remember what we’re all thankful for. For us at Hilltop House the list seems endless. Our family, the roof over our heads, the new grandson, the granddaughters we adore too, the new daughter-in-law, and the son-in-law we have. We have blessings by virtue of the country we live in, the visitors who choose to spend nights with us, especially the returning ones, our never-empty larder, our health, the hilltop we find ourselves perched upon and so many other things so countless to note.  Happy Thanksgiving