Saturday, February 21, 2009


Next to our nice old apple orchards (the few that survive the great Robert Livingston Pell era) ,stands this truly enormous oak. It has to be over a hundred years old, measuring some 23 feet around. It is one of the many wonderful symbols of strength , beauty and survival that surround us here at The Mount. However, sadly, not ALL survives !!!

You can see, even in the winter, the boards in the snow that are the last remains of what we used to call The Acre Shack when we played hockey, skated at night, traded gifts at Christmas and grew in affection for this wonderful Hudson River landscape..

Bro. Charlie's Wood Duck nest (an image of which is someplace on this blog) is right up to the right of where the Shack was standing. Charlie constructed the nest recent years long after the beavers, erosion and wind had flooded the Acre Shack which eventually fell.

The Acre Shack fell. But now we and our neighbors have a wonderful two lake wetland with plenty of ducks. (There are Black Ducks wintering on the stream that feeds the Acre Pond). It is so very apt the name of our great conservancy group in this area: Scenic Hudson. IT TRULY IS!!!

Friday, February 20, 2009


I am patiently...waiting and hoping no one chooses BORED or CONFUSED as their reaction to this Hudson River Birder.
And so...let me tell you, in order about some of the "critters" we have on our Esopus land here looking right up the Hudson to the Esopus Lighthouse, which is on a diagonal from our main building or Norrie's Yacht Basin which is straight across the Hudson from us. Esopus Island is on a diagonal about southeast of us.
1. ALPHIE: is Fr. Gene's nearly eight month old female Black Labrador. She probably knows our property better than any of us. She now knows what a possum is and that they are not good to eat. She has seen but wisely not chased our herd of wild turkeys. And she has had at least two "uncomfortable encounters with......our
2. ALBINO SKUNK: Yes, there are albino skunks. (There is even a quite famous "albino squirrel" over in Tillson which has not been seen recently. The snow might have something to do with this.... )Our albino skunk, after these two encounters has not succeeded in convincing Alphie that skunks are not nice to "hang around with". Well, hopefully Alphie will learn as we all do.
3. JUNCOS: Juncos are birds that are like "little maitre des" They seem to get a nicer darker coat as winter wears on...or "wears out". And their neat white chest sometimes looks like a swell tuxedo to me. During my morning walk they flitter from bush to bush just ahead of me. The Eastern Bluebirds and Tufted Titmouses (Titmice???) as well as the ever present Black Capped Chickadees, and White Breasted Nuthatches "hang out" with them.
4. OUR EAGLE FAMILY: About three years ago an Audubon person from across the river spotted nesting eagles on our property. He has tagged some of the hatched eagletts and protected the nest also for which we (and the eagles) are very grateful.
5. BRO. CHARLIE'S WOOD DUCK HOUSE: Two of our largest ponds left over from the Pell Estate era in the last century have been host to, well, of course our "over eager beavers" who have damned them and damned them again. But many migrating ducks including Woodducks have "passed through". Our now deceased Bro. Charlie Summers constructed a very good Woodduck Nesting House and placed it at what we considered the proper distance from the pond, the proper height (about 10 feet) and with the entrance facing "away" from the pond. I have snowshoed many times up past it on route to the old Pell Barn (now fallen) and the little old cemetery that has graves of people born as early as 1732. But so far I don't think any wooducks have checked in. (Maybe this has something to do with the housing market.)

Thursday, February 19, 2009


I never fully appreciated the wildlife here at THE MOUNT when I spent six years here about....40 years ago. I still remember that my friend Felo nearly went into ecstasy when he saw an osprey down the river near the entrance to Black Creek. He was raised in South Florida where ospreys, great fishers just enjoy the inter coastal waterways with so much to eat. A few years ago we had Wood Ducks here. So Bro. Charlie (now in the great "Wildnerness Beyond") designed a Wood Duck house which Fr. Tom later assembled and placed just away from our "Acre Pond" Well, that's what WE used to call it. Well, now that I live here I have met Skip Doyle who was born and raised right near here in Port Ewen. He has helped me learn to love and appreciate the beauty of my new Hudson River home. Now the beavers (protected as they are) have had their way and damned it up uniting it to what was the next lake along our 9 W property here in Esopus. They tell us that Arthur Pell the former owner of this and much more Esopus land had many artificial lakes on this property. There remain. let me think... about about 5 today. That was before 1908.

I don't have any pictures yet. But please be patient. There is still snow on the ground. But I will be walking and snapping photos so you can see what a great piece of God's creation THE MOUNT is. We used to help with the little Black Angus cows. Fr. Charlie who lives here now was one of the "seminarian farmers" in those days.