Welcome back everyone, today I am going to tell you all about my recent adventure to Walter S. Commerdinger Jr. County Park in Nesconset, NY. The main entrance to this park is located on Edgewood Rd. however, we entered in through a side entrance to Lily Pond county park and walked over, as the two parks share the same land. The time was about 4:30 pm, we decided to try to squeeze in a quick outing after work and this park is so close to our home. Conditions were admittedly not ideal, it was later in the day and slightly overcast, also a bit chillier than in recent days. The first section of the trail runs along a stream with a view of lily pond county park. The trail is wide and well-kempt, for the most part, with the exception of some rather unfortunate graffiti as you get deeper into the park.
The first bird we spotted, and heard, was the Red-Winged Blackbird which seemed to swarm the stream. Flashes of red bursting from between reeds and out from behind trees, whizzing overhead and disappearing into the woods. Dozens of them called to one another and flitted about watching on as we walked. Up in the treetops, the distinct harsh call of Blue Jays echoed out and drew us to seeing the most richly colored Blue Jays I had ever seen. Their blue feathers against the grey sky shown down like a beacon, more and more gathering above us. The stream was blanketed with beautiful green lilypads and the rumbling croak of Bullfrogs. The woods were a sea of warm browns with only the beginning buds of leaves beginning to wake from their winter slumber. Mourning Doves cooed from outstretched branches and Song sparrows sang to us from deep into the distance. Along the stream, a pair of Canada Geese navigated the fallen logs and clusters of golden reeds. A Great Egret waded elegantly along the stream’s edge. Further ahead the glisten of a shallow swamp/wetland and a small footbridge lay before us, then one of the most beautiful sights in my opinion, a Northern Flicker perched on a thin tree.
The swamp area to our left was actually surprisingly large with a distant wall of tall trees bordering its edges. Though this looked to be a perfect spot for a wide variety of birds we did not see more than a few more Red-Wings and a Gray Catbird passing through. A small footbridge led over a thin stream leading us across to continue on our trail, but before moving on we took some time to admire the view from the bridge as it is the only really clear area to see the wetland.
Up ahead further and the trail forked, going straight would continue along the stream for a short distance further but turning left would lead to the Commerdinger Estate and garden. Bearing left on the trail we could see the house off in the distance after only a short walk. An area just before the land turned from dirt and pine needles over to lawn, there hid a smaller area of swampy wetland with a few nesting boxes as well as a clearing with a few charred logs and soot, most likely from some people illegally camping. The Home is locked and strictly off limits to visitors, due to vandalism the park has installed cameras to deter trespassing. Beside the home is a small shed that honestly looks more like an outhouse, a few garden arches, benches and an old boarded up chicken coop. A few nesting boxes scattered along the edge of the woods obviously attracting songbirds from the nesting materials hanging out, but no one was at home during our visit. Blue Jays continued to fill the treetops around us and a few young rabbits hopped along in the green grass. After sitting and resting for a bit without seeing any new visitors we decided to get heading back (especially after a jogger tipped us off to an owl sighting back up by the stream a few months back). Also, this is where your trail would begin if entering from Edgewood Rd./ Main Entrance. There is a Park sign as well as bags for dog waste, a trail map, and regulation signs.
The trail back seemed to go much faster than it had on the way in, our eyes were glued to the treetops along the stream in hopes of spotting an owl or raptor without any luck. A few American Robins jogged along the trail ahead of us and the occasional Mallard duck splashed in the stream. With the car in our sights through the thinning trees ahead a quick flash of blue stopped us in our tracks. We waited patiently, examining a thick area of brambles and thorny vines where the small blue bird seemed to disappear. After about 20 minutes it finally came out enough to get a clear enough look to see it was a Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher, but sadly not enough to get any great shots of the tiny bird.
This was definitely not our best outing in terms of quantity of birds and definitely not in rarity but this is an absolutely beautiful hike, albeit rather short. The Estate grounds are well kept and a perfect spot to relax with a picnic or to set up a small blind and wait for songbirds to appear along the tree line. The trail is well maintained, wide and flat making it a very easy walk for any ability but I do highly recommend protecting yourself carefully from Ticks and Poison Ivy/Oak. I have done this hike quite a few times before and very much enjoy it, its a great pick for hotter days as the majority of the trail is in the shade of trees. I recommend taking a look at this small park if you are close by, though I do not personally think it is enough to justify a long trip unless you are pairing it with one of the other nearby parks in the area such as Lily Pond County Park or Lake Ronkonkoma County Park. Until next time my friends, Happy Birding!
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I live about 6-8 blocks east of Commerdinger, Jr County Park. We’ve enjoyed hiking the trails with our dogs there for more than 20 years. Recently I heard a bird call I haven’t heard before. Last week I heard it again and when I looked up I watched as a bald eagle flew just over the tree line. Wings outstretched with white head and tail it was an amazing sight. (the phone of course was inside so no photo or video ). I am hoping they are nesting in the park and will have many more sightings and photo opportunities.
Ah yes – there is a nesting pair of American Bald Eagles in the area. A funny story is that years ago, Jackie and I went out to Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge (a wonderful place) because we had heard there was a nesting pair there. We didn’t see them at Wertheim that day, but on the way home, we were driving along Smithtown blvd and right above St. Mary’s church we saw a Bald Eagle circling in the sky, and we’ve seen them there since (we do not live far from there)
So I am not surprised that you’ve seen them over there because that is just North of where we did!