Welcome back, everyone! Today I will be telling you all about a trip I took back in mid-May of 2019 to Harrison Pond Town Park. To be completely honest with you, I am not even completely sure how I heard of this park to begin with, but the information I found online (what very little there was) sounded very promising. Harrison Pond Town Park is a very small park located on St. Johnland Road in Kings Park, not far from the now-abandoned Kings Park Psychiatric Center. I must admit, I was very excited to go here, for some reason, probably because I love visiting parks with ponds and streams. When we got to the area, not having an exact address for the park, we first drove right past it and had to double back… more than once. When I say this park is small I want to be clear, this park is small enough to drive past 2-3 times and not realize it.
Trying to keep an open mind, after all, good things come in small packages, we parked the car in a small parking area (5-6 car capacity) complete with my favorite “parking for town residents only” signs and the threat of being towed. Seeing that we would likely not be out of view of the car for the duration of our visit we figured we would take the risk and look around. Right along the road is a very nice looking wooden bridge going over a nearly dry creek. Unfortunately, the view is quite ruined by the shabby chain-link fence running around the descended area of the park that I can only assume is the “pond”. I will admit there was a trickle of water running through the area and the silty ground appeared damp but to call this a pond would definitely be a stretch of the imagination.
I tried to hide my disappointment, after all, it was a beautiful day and my husband and I were outside with my camera around my neck, so it wasn’t all bad. But, at this point, I had been looking around for about 10-15 minutes and all I had found was a missing pond, threats of having my car towed and a few American Robins sitting on a patchworked chain fence. In the front of the park, beside the small bridge, an informational sign hung posted on the fence offering information on the flora and fauna in the area. There was also a picnic table… sorry, but that’s really it, one picnic table.
I fully admit that I wear my emotions on my sleeve, no matter how hard I try to hide them. People can read my face like a book. Sensing my dissatisfaction, which I’m sure is shining through loud and clear here as well, my husband asked if I would like to call it a miss and head home. Having already driven all the way out here and with my camera waiting eagerly in my hands I was determined to find something and decided to stick it out and explore as much as I could.
Walking past the green grass that sprawled the front of the park and past the end of the fence there is a small area of accessible woods with an ill-defined footpath along the trickling water (the “pond” does seem to have a bit more water once you enter this area of woods). The stream, and trail, basically dead-end a short distance beyond the trees but there are a few moments of serenity and picturesque views. Gray Catbirds seemed to overrun the area, perching on branches, hopping about the floor and calling through the breeze. Red-bellied Woodpeckers and Common Grackles also found their way through the trees and brambles, enjoying the quiet and seclusion. I watched quietly as an American Robin gathered worms from the sandy ground and flew them up to her nest of eagerly waiting babies. A lone Tufted Titmouse watched on from its perch in a tree of his own. I waited and watched, and waited some more, but the air was silent and the woods still. I took a deep breath and walked out of the shade back to the sunny lawn with a feeling of defeat when suddenly a Baltimore Oriole caught my eye from a treetop across the road. Steven and I examined the brush and saw what looked like a trail, perhaps our adventure was not over yet after all!
We headed across the road to the shimmering hint of the Nissequogue River peaking out from behind a wall of scraggly trees and reeds. Yellow Warblers flitted about the shrubs and grasses along the curbside, landing on a downed fence momentarily before disappearing again to the cover of leaves. A small foot trail led us down a short way to the river’s edge before coming to an abrupt end. Once again our trails were leading nowhere, however, this dead-end had a bit more promise than the last. A Mute Swan drifted along the shallows drawing our attention to the most adorable baby raccoon, who had emerged from the reeds for a snack but upon seeing us darted back into hiding. House Sparrows and Blue Jays watched on from overhanging branches and treetops. Yellow Warblers continued making their appearances by the dozens but after a while, it became clear that our adventure had reached its end for the day.
I am not saying that this not a beautiful little spot to come for a nice lunch or to sit and think. Any chance to be outside around nature is worth taking advantage of, and if you include the area across the street (which is not part of the park) there are some beautiful views and photo opportunities. Unfortunately, as far as what I was looking for, this just did not make the cut. If you are looking to have room to hike and get away from where you parked your car then this is certainly not the place for you. However, if you are looking for an easy birding spot to sit down with your camera or binoculars and not have to do much walking this may be just what you’re looking for. In my opinion, this is a beautiful spot to go to if you live very close and are looking for a quiet spot to sit and relax, otherwise, it is likely not worth a trip out of your way. I don’t say this very often but I likely will not be adding this park onto my list of places I need to return to. Have you gone anywhere interesting or seen some exciting birds lately? Please tell me about it in the comments! Until next time my friends, Happy Birding!