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Adirondacks, New York

The Adirondacks

June 14, 2024

Myles and Kathy Conway

Eight members traveled to the Adirondacks for the club’s Northern New England trip this year.  One other member was with us “in spirit”; COVID interfered with his plans to join us, reminding us that the virus has not gone away…

As we drove from our meeting place near Warrensburg, NY the trip list started with one car seeing a Common Nighthawk. Birding began in earnest along the road into Moose River Plains, but this year it did not prove to be as productive as previously.  Birding was mostly “by ear” and we had poor looks at those birds we did see, until we came to Cedar River Flow where sharp eyes picked out a nesting Common Loon, a Common Merganser, and a distant Kingfisher sitting on a snag.  Ferd’s Bog is a required stop and offers a chance to stretch our legs on the short walk in.  None of the boreal species came into view but we did enjoy looks at the plant life of the bog.  Raquette Lake marsh, our last stop before heading to the hotel in Long Lake, gave us a look at a nesting Osprey.

Saturday morning we veered from the usual itinerary by birding the two sections of Sabattis Road (or Circle Road) before heading to Tupper Lake marsh.  We were not disappointed, and we finally saw some birds!  These included two American Bitterns, and some nice warblers, notably a beautiful Magnolia in the same tree as a Northern Waterthrush!  Parulas and Yellow-rumped also showed nicely.  The marsh at Tupper Lake often provides some surprises.  Here we heard Snipe calling, then a Least Bittern (or was it American?) flew in front of the platform.  We typically don’t check the view from the parking area, but this time we did, and we were re-warded with scope views of two Sandhill Cranes!  Seeing them reminded us that it was their call we heard when we got out of the cars previously.  

After a bit of confusion finding the entrance to the trail into Massawepie Mire, we geared up to fend off mosquitoes.  Although not as bad as last year, they were annoying until the bog opened up on both sides.  We had looks at Nashville Warblers and Lincoln Sparrows, targets for this area, but had no luck finding Olive-sided Flycatcher or Gray Jay.  After lunch at Tupper Lake we headed to Bloomingdale Bog.  E-bird had reported sightings of Black-backed Woodpecker and Yellow-bellied Flycatcher on Bigelow Road, so we went there first.  Although we did not get these species, we did see a couple of Golden-crowned Kinglets.  By then it was getting late in the af-ternoon and we decided to skip walking on the trail into the bog as the drive to Long Lake from this area takes a solid hour.  

Sunday began with dense fog which did not bode well for viewing at Shaw Pond marsh near Long Lake.  When we arrived, though, it was not just fog that limited our viewing opportunities.  The pond was empty of water, and we assumed a beaver dam had broken during one of the re-cent rain events.  In the parking lot of the Northfield-Lake Placid Trail we heard a different song of Blackburnian Warbler and had nice looks at a couple of birds.  The walk itself was pretty quiet except for Hermit Thrushes, Winter Wrens, and White-throated Sparrows, until we neared the parking lot on our way out.  While some in the rear were hoping to pull a Boreal Chickadee out of a small flock of Black-capped, those in the front had close, and interesting, looks at a Merlin.  

Our last stop in the higher elevations was to the historical ironworks at Tahawus.  We saw a Hooded Merganser mom with one baby, a cooperative Junco, and a quiet Red-eyed Vireo.  And, while most of us studied the descriptions of the old iron forge, one member of the group used the time to shoot some photos.  Later we discovered she had taken a great shot of a Yellow-throated Vireo, the only one of the trip!

We finally made our way to the grasslands near Fort Edward, which is always productive.  It was hot in the afternoon, but we had quite a bit of activity.  We added Kingbird and Mockingbird, Red-tailed and Cardinal.  At the marsh on Town Line Road a Marsh Wren delighted us with close views.  Then we were startled by a Least Bittern that flew from one side of the road to the other, nearly crashing in to one of us!  (Seeing this individual confirmed that the bittern we saw at Tup-per Lake was indeed an American. But we could now confirm Least Bittern as a new sighting for the Adirondacks trip). As we kept an eye on the location of the bittern, a Green Heron then flew out.

There was no Grasshopper Sparrow at the grasslands where Town Line meets Hinds Road where we have seen it in the past.  These Washington County grasslands have been designated an Important Bird Area (IBA) by National Audubon Society and some areas are managed by NY State Dept of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and Grassland Bird Trust.  There is at least one viewing blind already set up with plans for some mowed trails.  But we also unfortunately witnessed what happens when fields are not managed.  This is farm country as well, and farmers mow their hayfields at this time of year.  When mowed too early, either inadvertently or for economic reasons, the nests of grassland species are destroyed.  Near the end of our tour we came upon a newly mowed field where we saw adult Bobolinks and Red-winged Blackbirds flying around and landing in the mown area apparently looking for their nestlings.  It was a sad reminder that more needs to be done to protect these habitats while also allowing economic activity to go on.

Click below to view or click here to download or the complete species list.