Hello again and welcome back everyone! As promised todays article will be the Part II to the Hoyt Farm Nature Preserve in Smithtown, NY. Steven and I were so in love with this park that we decided to return the very next weekend with his mother for another adventure!
Once again we arived bright and early to be sure to get a spot close by to the park and allow us the most daylight as possible to enjoy all that this park has to offer. We parked about a block away from the parking lot ( remember, Hoyt Farm parking is only open to Smithtown residents. Non-residents may only park in the lot when they are the guest of a permit holding resident and will be charged a $12 parking fee. ) Bird sightings were immediate as the bright red head of a Red-bellied Woodpecker shone blazingly from the tree of a residents front yard as we walked down the block to the park.
Once again a large group of Canada Geese roamed the sprawling lawn of the park entrance only now occompanied by the acrobatics of racing Barn Swallows; darting and weeving mere inches above their heads. We quickly headed up the same path as we had followed on our previous trip, comming up to the water tower and animal pens. I was so excited to show my mother in law the marvelous display as she is similarly minded to me and could easily spend the day right there petting the animals and forget everything else. We watched intently as a Chipping sparrow gathered clumps of fur from the fence of the goat pen to bring back for its nest and the animals enjoyed the fresh morning sun. A beautiful tree overhead had bursted into bright colorful blooms since our last visit resembling the colors of a warm sunrise.
Again, the fountain before the trailhead was buzzing with life and beauty. House sparrows rested in its pockets of shade and a chipmunk drank eagerly from its cool running waters. A cracking twig from the trail caused us to spin around and look down the narrow green entryway and hold our breath in our cheasts. Personally, as someone who has spent a lot of time in Long Island Parks, I dont think there are many more euphoric experiances than when you find yourself in the same space with a White-tailed Deer. The park was silent and there were no other visitors around yet besides our own small group. The Doe watched us as we watched her, both parties calm, quiet and still until she decided it was time to continue on, turned, and walked away. Huge smiles spread across our faces as we stood fast in our places, alowing her some distance before we continued on as not to spook her.
Invigorated by the glimpse of isolated wilderness, we continued ahead to the trailhead leading through the preserve. Immediately a Red-headed Woodpecker caught our attention, drilling into the underside of a thick tree-limb over our heads. American Robins and Northern Cardinals spotted the bright green walls of forest along our sides. An energetic Gray Catbird flitted from branch to branch, examining the new visitors to his home, while Eastern Cottontails sat frozen between the brush. A short while up the trail, not far before coming upon the first pond, a sweet little Tufted Titmouse decided to pay us a visit, resting on a thin outstretched twig and watching contently as we walked.
Walking up to the pond was just as magical the second time as it was the first, with the warm sun glittering off the water like a thousand diamonds. Hoards of turtles in all sizes swam across the surface, diving for fish and climbing up onto logs to bask in the sun. As we had seen on our last trip, Yellow Warblers seemed to have made this area their own as their bright yellow feathers shown like a beacon from the dark shadows of the dense trees. Gray Catbirds hoped about the ground around the pond in search of a late breakfast and the call of frogs, both Green and Bull, filled the air. We stared at the shallow water full of excitement, watching as the various Sunfish swam by and huge Bullfrogs exploded from the water. A small gathering of American Crows descended from the sky amongst the treetops and after quite a long while of soaking in the wonder of this amazing little spot we reluctantly headed on towards the next.
A very short walk down the trail and we quickly came upon the entrance to the second “pond” which, again, is far more like a puddle than a pond. Regardless, the area was buzzing with life! Gray Catbirds strolled along the trail and perched in the brambles along the marshy shoreline. A pair of Mallards swam happily atop the shadowy water and a bright Blue Jay sounded its call from the treetops. Because of the nature of the area, this spot seems to have a large amount of small flying insects and soft muddy ground, therefore, we did not stay too long and soon we were back on the trail.
The bright sun broke through the dark shadows that blanketed the trail to welcome us out beside the large grassy field. Along the opposite side of the trail stood a patch of thin trees growing amongst tall grasses and occasional shrubs. A Northern Cardinal was first to catch my attention, its bright cherry red snatching my eye like a burning fire amidst the sea of sunny green. Not far ahead, a small brown bird sat perched on an outstretched branch. I will be honest, this one left me stumped for a little while, but I eagerly shot some photos and figured I would check my references once I got back home. But when a bright blue mate came to join it on the tree I saw that it was indeed a pair of Indigo Buntings! One of North America’s most beautiful birds and always a delightful sighting in the field. European Starlings perched in treetops along the path while Yellow Warblers and Gray Catbirds continued to make their appearances. As we continued on, growing closer to the orchard, the striking pattern of an Eastern Towhee was an exciting surprise as it perched out in the open on an exposed twig, seeming to pose for the camera. Only a few steps further and a small House wren darted in and out of the cover of leafy branches.
The apple orchard echoed with the melodies of thousands of songbirds. Cedar Waxwings covered the branches of nearly every tree along the trail, their beautiful soft colors creating a watercolor painting before our very eyes. Even more House Wrens emerged from the bramble and a family of Canada Geese strolled down a grass path beside the dwarfed trees. Blue Jays sored through the crystal sky and American Robins rested on the fragrant branches of apple trees. I found myself lost in the beauty of Cedar Waxwings. A huge group of them had descended on the area and seemingly took no bother to our presence allowing me to indulge in some closer photos then I am usually privileged to.
We made our way back up towards the park entrance, taking our time to stop and once again admire the hummingbird garden on our way. Sadly there were no sightings on this trip but I am still hopeful for next time! As I have said before, this is without a doubt one of my new favorite parks on Long Island and as you can hopefully see by now, there are many, many reasons why. This park just has so much to offer it is rather hard for me to believe even still. I highly, highly recommend going and checking this park out for yourself. Get some friends or family together and make a day out of it or make it a solo mission and allow yourself to get lost in the beauty of the nature around you. I will definitely be returning soon and will be on the lookout to see what other amazing bird species this magical preserve has to offer. Until next time my friends, Happy Birding!