Hello again everyone, welcome back! Today I’m going to be telling you all about my recent trip to Millers Pond County Park in Smithtown. I first heard of this spot due to its great reputation as a local fishing spot but nowadays I hear pond on Long Island and all I think is BIRDS!
Steven and I headed out bright and early and found the park with very little trouble. There was parking for about six or seven cars but lucky for us the lot was all but empty. The setup of this park was unusual compared to many we have visited before, the parking area was directly off the road and the water only a few feet beyond that. Immediately when we approached the pond we were greeted by the typical pond residents, the ever social Canada Geese and Mallard ducks. On either side of the pond access where dense clumpings of trees and brambles opened up through the center with access to the hiking trail. Before setting off we enjoyed the only open view of the pond for a while longer, watching as Northern Cardinals and Blue Jays flitted from tree to tree and House Sparrows hopped about the ground. Far in the distance, I could see the distinct silhouette of a Double-Crested Cormorant in its signature “Dracula” Stance. Tree Swallows swooped and swarmed over the water like tiny jets, moving so quickly I could hardly catch them on camera and seeming never to land or tire. Then, just before moving onto the trail we spotted an exciting sight, a family of Mute swans with the cutest group fluffy white cygnets.
Once we started out onto the trail we quickly realized that it was actually part of the Greenbelt trail and passed by a handful of Hikers along our way. Early on we managed to spot an energetic Downy Woodpecker who seemed to bounce from tree to tree following along beside us. Trees and thick walls of brambles and thicket blocked the majority of the view of water as we walked opening up only occasionally to allow us a peek. At a small clearing in the trees, we were able to catch a glimpse of a large group of American Black Ducks swimming across the glistening water. Far in the distance, we could see a circling raptor, hunting for prey over the outskirts of the pond, but never came close enough to identify and eventually we lost it amongst the canopy of the treetops. Through the woods, a rustling of dried leaves and tumbling pebbles caught our ear, if it were not for Steven I would never have even noticed the family of White-Tailed Deer frozen amidst the trees. Further along still and we came to another access point to the pond, this one a bit more difficult to get up close to, having to weave through thick roots and soft damp earth. A statuesque Great Egret posed along the shoreline and overhead a hungry Osprey danced circles across the sky. Since the trail was a section of the greenbelt there was no loop or designated ending spot and we soon realized that we had traveled far past the length of the pond and the calls of birds had been replaced with the hum of rushing cars. Feeling confident that the best of our sightings had been concentrated around the water we decided to turn back and explore the pond once more, hoping some new visitors had landed since our departure.
With the glitter of the sun on the water’s surface shining through the trees once again the familiar sound of Red-Winged Blackbirds began to come from directions all around us. Serenaded by Song Sparrows we trecked on back to the park entrance and best view of the pond. The same faces still swam around the front edge of the water, waiting eagerly for food from the newly arrived gathering of cars and visitors. Luckily, for the most part, people were there to observe and not throwing bread (feeding waterfowl is extremely hazardous to both the bird, the environment, as well as the other animals in the area. Despite best intentions, this is an activity that should be strongly discouraged. Check back soon for an article on this topic). Swallows still buzzed by over the water in a manic whirlwind, now strewn with Barn Swallows as well. A Black-Capped Chickadee sang cheerily from a nearby tree and the beautiful iridescence of the Common Grackle gave a pop of royal blue to the grey trees still recovering from winter.
This Park is not exactly what I was expecting but I guess that just goes to show you that we should always go into new experiences open-minded. I think I was hoping for more of a trail around the pond as opposed to a trail with an occasional view of the pond. The area with the best view is also the area with the most noise being that it is right alongside a busy road and nearly on top of the parking area. Though this spot definitely has some flaws, overall we very much enjoyed our trip and have some great photos to come away with. This is a great spot to stop on a lunch break for a great view and a good chance of seeing some ducks and geese, as far as a spot to spend the day and find a large variety of species, it probably would not be my top pick. I am always amazed at Long Islands ability to have such a beautiful view in the middle of a busy town but it truly makes for a special place to live and love. I probably won’t be rushing back here for a revisit but I recommend highly if you are looking for a quick spot that is easily accessible with some great scenery. Until next time my friends, Happy Birding!