Central New York is not Manhattan, some coddling wonderland filled with prepackaged amusements advertised by convenient and brilliant signage. It is a place of subtle beauty hidden behind marshes and drumlins. Attractions are separated not only by great and small lakes but also by miles of cornfields. Sometimes you have to poke around or just keep your eyes open in order to find your fun — and that can make your find feel more worthwhile.
Today I found myself at the Montezuma Audubon Center, an indoor nature center and outdoor nature space located a few miles north of the Thruway on State Route 89 in Savannah, New York. The birds are attracted to the fields, wetlands and woods, which were brought back to their natural state after being used as homogeneous cornfield for decades. The center has become a major stopping point for migratory birds and the migratory birders who follow them.
Inside is a large foyer with a picture window out of which one can view a surprising number of ospreys and swallows using the naked eye and a spotter scope. To either side lie multipurpose rooms that can be used for educational programs, for administrative purposes, or for the considerable amount of coalition-building between organizations that are currently stitching together a large complex of protected wetland areas. There’s also an attached shop where a body can pick up a pair of high-quality binoculars.
This next month alone, there will be one-day educational programs on shorebirds and insects, artistic breakout sessions, a series of supplementary classes for home schooled kids on birding, guided paddling trips through the marshes, photography workshops, bird banding demonstrations, gardening cooperative meets and trailbuilding efforts. Outside are three loop trails over a series of miles guiding amblers through fields, woods and marshes.
I left the Montezuma Audubon Center feeling refreshed, recentered and recharged. If you find yourself in the area, do drop in.