Great Swamp of the Hudson Highlands

October 10, 2003


Provided and copyright by: Steve Kluge, Fox Lane High School
Summary authors & editors: Steve Kluge

The Great Swamp is a unique natural area in the Hudson Highlands of New York State. Located just 60 miles (96 km) north of New York City in eastern Putnam and Dutchess Counties, the 6000 acre (2400 ha) swamp runs north/south for almost 20 miles (32 km), forming an important migratory corridor for a large number of bird species. The swamp provides additional benefits in the form of water quality, flood control, recreation, open space, and wildlife habitat.

The swamp straddles the divide of 2 large drainage basins. Water flowing northward out of the swamp ultimately empties into the Housatonic River and the Long Island Sound, while the southward flow contributes water to the East Branch Reservoir of New York City's Croton Reservoir System, and ultimately flows into the Atlantic Ocean via the Hudson River. On September 5, 2003, the absolute still air of a high pressure system that had settled in the day before provided some exceptionally smooth water and some interesting opportunities for photographs of reflected landscapes. In this photograph (taken during an early evening kayak paddle through the southern part of the swamp) it is interesting to note that more detail is visible in the reflected image of the sky and distant hilltop than in the "real" view. Note especially the clouds that are clearly visible in the reflection and almost unnoticeable in the sky. Note too that individual tree tops are visible in the reflected hilltop, while the real hilltop appears less detailed. The reason for this that reflected light is polarized, and much of the scattered light that tends to blur and soften the scenery is effectively removed from the reflected image.

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