This post is devoted to the summer avian life present in Washington County and specifically at American Masala farm. My husband Peter & I enjoy birding so decided start a list of all the birds we saw and heard during our visit.
This bird gets my vote!
Seeing him strut his stuff around the farm...like he owns the place.
and he does.
We just returned from our recent stay at Masala Farm in Hebron, NY. I met Suvir & Charlie last summer in New Milford, CN at the, Silo Cooking School while attending a weekend of Indian cooking along with my sister Terri. My inspiration for cooking this past year has come from Suvir’s 2 books, Indian Home Cooking and American Masala . Both books emphasize everyday cooking from both American and Indian cuisines. I have nearly cooked my way through both books and am ready for the next book, Masala Farm due sometime this fall. This post is not about food but more about the birds. (Who am I kidding? It's all about the food...and is all for the birds.)
Many species of ducks, geese, and chickens reside at the farm. As long as we are talking ducks, geese and chickens, have you ever had fresh goose eggs for breakfast? If you have never tried them, you’ve missed a treat! Nothing tastes like the rich orange-yellow yolks of organic eggs whether from chickens or geese. Combined with homemade biscuits slathered with Battenkill Creamery butter and homemade strawberry-vanilla jam, there is nothing better. Did I mention the crème fraiche? I digress. Sometimes you just want to talk about food.
These goose eggs were out in the open...sometimes the nests are raided and the eggs are taken.
Goose eggs are HUGE!
[Photo credit: Angie in TO
Also heard were prairie warblers up on the mountain and cedar waxwings out in the birches. The ravens made their marauding presence known across the field. I think we heard them early one morning probably raiding one of the nests near the barn. Some bluebird boxes would make a nice addition to the farm. We saw them on the wires just across the street. Build it and they will come.
[Photo credit: vgphotog]
Bird man Pete
John James Audubon's summer home in Salem, NY
We learned that John Audubon had his summer home just up the road in Salem, NY. We visited Sue Clary’s antique barn in Salem and learned that Audubon lived right across the street from McCarty’s barn. Sue showed us a painting hanging on the wall of her shop pointing across the street to the house. It was amazing to us that this house has no sign indicating it as a historical place.
Audubon’s summer home is ready to be discovered here in Washington County. Did you know that there are over 48 million birders in the US alone? With such interest in birding and a struggling economy one would wonder why this gem is still unknown here in Salem, NY.
C’mon Salem, only you can make it happen!
The busy killdeers graced us with their presence each day as they scurried across the shore of the pond. Killdeers are ground nesters most often seen at the beach, but are also found in rural areas and golf courses.
We saw an American Kestrel fly across the left field being chased by some smaller birds. Kestrels are among the smallest of raptors and signify the top of the food chain in the natural world. The barometer of health in the food chain starts at the top with the predators. When predators are in abundance (birds, animals, insects…) then the rest of the food chain remains healthy. It is the decline in sensitive predator populations that is the first signs of an imbalance in the environment. A special sighting was the adult male harrier that flew across the field one afternoon. They are low flyers, passing by fields looking for little mice and voles.
American kestrel populations have been in decline in NY in recent years leading to a Kestrel project that places kestrel boxes in suitable habitats across the state. I learned about this project while I was researching details for this post.
Besides being birders, Peter & I participate in a raptor banding project located in Cape May Point, NJ each fall. Peter has been a licensed raptor bander for over 30 years. Projects like this and others that include songbirds and owls add to knowledge on how birds travel , where they nest and indicate species that may be in decline.
Kestrel in the hand in Cape May
We walked outside each evening to view the abundance of stars in the rural countryside. Though we did not hear any owls, I am sure they are here…
Northern Saw whet owl
Hoo Hoo……Hoo Hoo!
(who roots…for yooooou!)
Asha is a blue tick hound...and is a sweety.
Suvir & Charlie were the most gracious hosts allowing us free run of the place. I could have even donned the muck boots and cleaned out the stalls. But instead, we birded our little hearts out, enjoyed rural farm life, taking each day as it came. Peter made himself useful by bringing his pruning tools from home and gave Suvir private pruning lessons. We both work with trees and shrubs everyday so earned our keep by identifying stuff around the house..
Peter Deahl is spotted pruning a magnolia at Suvir Saran's farm in Hebron, NY.
Bonnie Deahl is in a dreamworld cooking in Suvir's well endowed...kitchen.
anytime you need a dishwasher or a hand with cooking or gardening...