Where can you find the great birding spots of the Great Swamp? Here’s a list we put together of local public access areas that are well-known to be perfect sites for bird-watching, covering a variety of habitats:
Patterson Environmental Park
This Town Conservation Area off South Street in Patterson is one of the best places to see the variety of swamp forest birds and some of the shrub swamp species. Park on South Street and walk down the dirt road to the river. You will go through some open fields, past some swamp forest patches, through a shrub swamp, into an area of upland forest and finally reach the river edge. There is a network of trails off the dirt road that wind their way along the edge of the swamp. This is an excellent site at all seasons, but especially in spring and summer. Note: The park entrance crosses active Metro North Railroad tracks. Be alert!
Dutcher Avenue Marsh
This is the most accessible marsh in the Great Swamp and is one of the largest. Owned by the Oblong Conservancy, it is located on the south edge of Pawling Village. Limited roadside parking is available at the north and south ends of the marsh on Dutcher Avenue. Do not park near the fire station.
Green Chimneys School
This popular access point for canoe trips provides some excellent opportunities to see swamp forest and wet meadow birds. The main parking area is located on the west side of Doansburg Road opposite the school. Walk past the pavilion to the river. The boardwalk gives you an elevated view through the swamp. While at Green Chimneys, visit the raptor rehabilitation center and zoo on the main campus. Several captive species of raptors there allow you to review their field marks up close and personal.
Ice Pond Conservation Area
The Ice Pond Conservation Area is accessed from Ice Pond Road via a steep dirt road down to Ice Pond, which can be scanned from the shore for waterfowl and swallows. Note: The trail to the Ice Pond crosses active Metro North Railroad tracks. Crossing the tracks is dangerous and illegal.
The Clough Preserve is located on the west side of Farm-to-Market Road near Brewster High School. From the parking lot follow the trail through an upland forest with patches of hemlocks to the edge of the shrub swamp and on to Ice Pond.
River Road crosses the Great Swamp between Route 22 and West Dover Road just north of Pawling Village. Park along the road near the bridge across from the Swamp River.