Myles and Kathy Conway
The weekend of June 16-18 carried predictions of rainy skies and thunderstorms each day. Did we dare continue with our plans to bird the north woods and lakes? Of course we did. Seven members opted to defy the odds and venture to New York. (We also didn’t want to lose our room deposits!). The trip proved to be a success; any trip where life birds (and mammals) are added is a success, after all! Two participants saw life birds on this trip, and others had a life sighting of a Fisher.
On Friday we drove the 12-mile entry road into the Moose River Plains area, and then out to the town of Inlet. We made many of the stops we have done before, but also added a short walk to very pretty Lost Ponds. We heard or saw many woodland species including Magnolia, Blackburnian, and Nashville Warblers, Northern Parula, and several Swainson’s Thrushes (al-ways nice to hear). We did not linger in Inlet since the skies were threatening, but instead made our way to Ferd’s Bog. We always hope for at least a glimpse of boreal species here, but this day we only heard a couple of specialties - Olive-sided Flycatcher (maybe 2) and Lincoln’s Spar-row - before distant thunder was heard and we made our way back to our cars. We ended the afternoon at Raquette Lake marsh as an Osprey flew over.
Saturday was overcast and the views at Tupper Lake marsh were not great, but we did add some Ring-necked Ducks to our list. Next stop was Massawepie Mire. Highlights on the drive through the Boy Scout camp gave us Tanager, Yellow-rumped and Pine Warblers, Hermit Thrushes, and Winter Wrens. The mosquitoes at the Mire were as bad as we’ve ever seen them, especially through the woods. But once the terrain opened up to the bog, they weren’t as fierce and we were able to have good looks at Nashville Warblers, and fleeting looks at Lincoln’s Sparrow. The highlight here was a family of Gray Jays. What turned out to be the high-pitched whiny calls of the juveniles confused some of us at first as we thought they were Waxwings. Then the mob came into view and there was no mistaking the jays!
Rains began as we left the mire and headed back to Tupper Lake where we made a lunch stop eating in our cars. It continued to rain as we headed to Bloomingdale Bog, but by the time we arrived, the rain had stopped. Skies still threatened but we walked along the flat trail. This time we had really nice looks at Olive-sided Flycatcher and Lincoln’s Sparrow as well as Nashville and Palm Warblers. Some also had a glimpse of a Green Heron as it took off over the bog.
Floodwood Road was next where our leaders promised a look at Common Loon with babies (“we always get them here…”). It wasn’t until we were on our way back out that we did finally see one adult loon! The best birds here, though were seen by only two, who lingered in the last car. They saw a Hooded Merganser, then heard and had great looks at Canada Warbler. At least this time it was best to be in the last vehicle!
Sunday also began drizzly and overcast. A drive up Whiteface was not in our plan this year, so rather than make the long drive back up through Saranac Lake and Lake Placid, we decided to simply head east on 28N out of Long Lake toward our afternoon destination of the Fort Edwards grasslands. First, we spent some time at Shaw Pond scanning and listening for any marsh birds and waterfowl. We had Mallard, Black and Wood Ducks, some saw a Kingbird, then we all saw a cooperative American bittern, and a close Virginia Rail. A great start to the day. We hoped for some specialties on a walk on the Northfield-Lake Placid Trail, but only had more of what we had been seeing and hearing - Black-capped Chickadees, Red-breasted Nuthatches, vireos, and woodland warblers.
The Adirondacks Visitor Center in Newcomb provided not only a bathroom stop, but also a very nice trail walk. Here we added Ruffed Grouse, heard by two, a Sharp-shinned Hawk which seemed to be guarding a nest, and a Hairy Woodpecker, which we had hoped would have been a Black-backed instead.
This trip always ends with car birding through the grasslands and farms near Fort Edwards. The skies turned sunny for us as we neared and we were rewarded with some very nice birds. In addition to those we expected such as Catbirds, Kingbirds, Finches and Swifts, we had Bobolinks, Meadowlarks, and Harrier. Our hoped-for Grasshopper Sparrow appeared at the “usual location” and gave us the “best looks ever.” Just before that we also had an active Baltimore Oriole family including a just-fledged youngster with its downy feathers still showing. The trip that was supposed to be a wash-out seemed to get better with each stop, and with a total of 107 species, we were not disappointed.