A Cloudy And Dreary Morning Hike in Fort Washington State Park.
I was hoping to observe, and photograph, some migratory song birds on my first visit to Fort Washington State Park. My hopes were somewhat dashed when I got up early Saturday morning to cloudy skies and light rain in the forecast. I wasn’t going to sit in my hotel room, so after a couple of cups of coffee, I drove the 2 miles to the urban park. When I arrived at 7 a.m. I found the access road didn’t open until 9 a.m. A couple of hikers told me the park was open but not the parking lots.
I left the Wissahickon Creek trail and followed another trail on a pole line next to an active railroad track. I love exploring new trails and was enjoying my hike despite the weather. This trail took me below the Hawk Observation Deck I visited the previous afternoon. Here I had to make a decision. I was going to try and hike the loop trail and all of the side trails in the park. However wasn’t sure where to begin. I decided to start my hike by walking up the steep hill to the observation tower, and follow the trail that led to the campgrounds.
I stopped at the observation deck and observed and photographed a few of the birds feeding there, including a red-bellied woodpecker,
a red-winged blackbird and
I continued on the Hawk Watch loop trail which took me up to the ridge where George Washington positioned troop in November of 1777. Fort Washington State Park was named after a fort he built in nearby Whitemarsh. Here I found an older hardwood forest.
There was again very little bird activity in these woodlands. I only saw, and heard, some white-throated sparrows. These sparrows spend the winters in Pennsylvania and are heading north to their breeding grounds.
As I continued my hike up the ridge along the access road I soon smelled the wonderful aroma of breakfast cooking at the campsites. There were quite a lot of campers for this early in the season. And most of them were already up and active. It was nice the children running around and enjoying nature on this cool, dreary morning.
There were a lot of folks in the area of the park, walking running and exercising their dogs. As I was walking on the trail I saw what I thought was a large dog. It looked to me like a collie. Having recently been bitten by a dog what I thought was a friendly I was upset at the owner for allowing the dog to run free. As the animal approached me, I realized it wasn’t a dog, it was a beautiful red fox! It was very close to me when it first noticed me, and quickly turned around and ran away. Had I known it was a fox I could have had some beautiful photos of it face, instead I had to settle for only a rear end view as it ran into the woods .
but there were still many song birds high above me in the treetops. My Merlin iPhone App identified a number of different of birds in this tree, including vireos, warblers and flycatchers but I couldn’t see them high in the treetop with the backlight and overcast sky.
this pretty, but constantly moving, blue-gray gnatcatcher.
There were a few passing showers during my hike but the rain had stopped when I came to the same trail along the pole line and old railroad right of way where I began my hike.
a few European starlings. I don’t like these birds who often come to my feeders and drive off the other birds. They are invasive and are now one of the most numerous song birds in North America. They were introduced here by from England by Shakespeare enthusiasts who wanted to release all of the birds mentioned in his writings to North America.
In my opinion it wasn’t a good idea. They would be the last birds I would see on my hike. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos of the birds I saw on my hike in Fort Washington State Park. Fort Washington birds April 22 2022
I was finishing my 7 1/2 mile hike back along the Wissahickon Creek, and, of course, the sun broke through the clouds as I approached my Jeep. I could here the song birds start singing in the woods across the creek. I was tired from my long hike but might have kept walking if I didn’t have to check out of my hotel. I didn’t see a lot of the migratory songbirds I hope to see, and I found the park not as densely wooded as the parks back home in Northeastern Pennsylvania but I still enjoyed my visit to this small urban park. I hope to return soon. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos from my hike in Forth Washington State park. Fort Washington State Park. April 22 2022.