The premier birding hotspot in the Champlain Valley attracts Hooded Merganser, Wood Duck, Yellow-throated and Blue-headed Vireos, Bonaparte’s Gull, Caspian Tern, grebes, ducks, pipits, and Snow Bunting.
On the eastern edge of New York’s vast Adirondack Park, and 50 minutes by car and ferry from Burlington, Vermont, Noblewood Park ranks for me as the premier birding hotspot in the Champlain Valley, which itself is a major hotspot. Noblewood became accessible to birders in 1999, when the Nature Conservancy deeded the property to the town of Willsboro.
A combination of diverse habitats makes the park an extremely effective concentrator of birds. Though fairly small, it is surrounded by large tracts of woods and water. And it has a few miles of trails, plus beach and riverbank, all of which make for easy hiking.
The landscape includes a bluff that rises 200 feet above Lake Champlain and serves as an excellent vantage point to scan large rafts of waterfowl in search of rarities like Barrow’s Goldeneye, Tufted Duck, Parasitic Jaeger, and Little Gull. Down by the mouth of the Boquet River, a flooded marshy area brings in herons, sparrows, and warblers.
One winter afternoon I saw about a thousand Common Goldeneyes, 250 Ring-necked Ducks, a Long-tailed Duck, and three Bald Eagles. — John Thaxton
John Thaxton writes the “Birdwatch” column for Adirondack Explorer magazine.
Riparian areas, lakeshore, floodplain, and upland sand plain mixed forest.
Easy hiking trails, gravel roads, sandy beach.
Spring and summer: Hooded Merganser, Wood Duck, Green Heron, Spotted Sandpiper, Belted Kingfisher, Baltimore Oriole, Yellow-throated, Philadelphia, and Blue-headed Vireos, Great Crested Flycatcher, Scarlet Tanager, Brown Creeper, Pileated Woodpecker, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Pine and Black-throated Green Warblers, and Purple Finch. Late summer and early fall: Bonaparte’s Gull, Caspian and Common Terns, Black-bellied Plover, yellowlegs, and sandpipers. Little Gull and Black Tern occasional. Fall and winter: Common Goldeneye, grebes, geese, ducks, American Pipit, and Snow Bunting. Rarities: Redhead, scoters, Red-throated Loon, Long-tailed Duck, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Red Knot, Black-headed Gull, Whimbrel.
When to go
Local breeders and migrants fill the woods in spring, summer, and fall. I come most often in late summer and early fall, when migrating shorebirds move through.
A few primitive campsites available for $12 per day. Lodging and restaurants available in Willsboro and nearby towns.
Town park. Free from Labor Day to July 1. $5 per car day-use fee for non-residents from July 1 to Labor Day. Parking at the entrance.
Bring a spotting scope. The Boquet River is a great spot to bird by canoe or kayak, especially in summer; put in at Willsboro and paddle 2.5 miles to the delta at the park.