Birding

Winter arrived slowly this year in the Adirondacks. My cross country skis were getting dusty waiting for snow, and I had only managed a couple times out on my old rock skis on local soccer fields in an effort to warm up my skiing muscles. And then it happened – a foot a half of snow was dumped on us after Christmas by what The Weather Channel was calling Winter Storm Euclid. After digging out for much of the day, we were nigh on exhausted, but excited to hit a local trail for some skiing, and we headed to the Jackrabbit Trail in Saranac Lake for some fresh powder.Other skiers had the same... continue reading
 
We finally got snow and a ton of it, the snow God's finally answered our call. Maybe it was that snow dance we did last week. Hard to believe I had to look at it for several days before I had a chance to get out and break some trail, but I did.Holcomb Pond was the choice of the day, an easy stroll through the Sentinel Range along a lightly used unmaintained trail. I had never been in there in the winter, so I wasn't sure what to expect – but this is what I got.First of all I was shocked to see that part of the parking area on River Road had been plowed, it gave me just enough room to get off... continue reading
 
Balsam fir may be the quintessential tree of the North Woods. Its range spreads across the northeast, the northern Appalachians, the boreal forest of Canada, and the northern Midwest in places like Michigan and Minnesota. It is common throughout the Adirondacks – both as an understory tree in mixed deciduous forests, and as a dominant tree in the coniferous forests of wet lowlands and high elevations of the park.For that reason, I couldn't imagine a more appropriate Christmas tree for someone living in the Adirondacks. While popular trees like the closely related Fraser fir (a tree of high... continue reading
 
With the holidays upon us, it is also the season for birders to assemble across the country to take part in one of their favorite holiday traditions – Christmas bird counts (CBCs). CBCs have been a mainstay of this time of year for decades and decades, and because of the consistency with which they've been conducted, they can help shed light on bird population and movement trends. I usually take part in one or two each year, and this past weekend I joined some friends as we went up to lend a hand in the Plattsburgh count.Our group's territory covered Cumberland Head and a large swath north... continue reading
 
This past week I took a hike on the Northville-Placid Trail along the Chubb River in Lake Placid. I had to reenter a whole series of data points from our summer of field work into a GPS unit, after the original unit was broken this fall. It is one of those unfortunate realities of field work, but it did give me an excuse for a nice hike.It was a crisp, clear day, complete with fresh snow and Wren and I were excited for the chance to hike. We set out and I stopped here and there entering the GPS points as I went. Judging by the footprints in the snow, not many people had been hiking on the... continue reading
 
The main reason we drag ourselves out of our winter bed on weekends is to ski at Whiteface. We also know there are plenty of other reasons to visit Wilmington, a quiet town known for Olympic caliber alpine trails. Besides the restaurants nestled along the roadside, one favorite stop for my family is the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge and Rehabilitation Center.The Wildlife Refuge is a 50-acre rehabilitation center on the western branch of the Ausable River. There is a one-mile educational nature trail; animal enclosures and a pet timber wolf. Run by Wendy and Steve Hall, the Halls are passionate... continue reading
 
The other week, some friends and I traveled to the Westport area for some birdwatching. The excitement started as we passed through Elizabethtown when I spotted a few pine grosbeaks high in a tree. The birds then came down and began drinking at a small stream along the road and we watched them for a while in the morning sun. We eventually found between 30 and 40 grosbeaks – many of them feeding on an ornamental crabapple tree. And, while grosbeaks will come to bird feeders from time to time, fruit trees are the best places to look for them. They are also extremely approachable as they feed... continue reading
 
As the remnants of last week's turkey are being picked off the carcass and turned in to cold turkey sandwiches, and as my Labrador retriever has now recovered from eating an entire turkey carcass that a family member placed down low and then went out without thinking, it is a good opportunity to consider the wild turkeys which inhabit the Adirondacks. After all, some families are gearing up for another round of turkey feasting in late December – we love it so much that we have one defrosting in our refrigerator right now (my dog can't wait!). This is the time of year when turkeys rule the... continue reading
 
The backside of Lake Colby along the railroad tracks in Saranac Lake continues to be a good place to find ducks and other waterbirds. Today my walk started with a fly-by Cooper's hawk as a well as seven fly over Bohemian waxwings.Both species were nice finds, and I headed down to the railroad tracks where like the day before, a large number of bufflehead stretched across the quiet backwater of the lake. The water was flat and smooth – even on the main body of the lake – rare for this time of year. I counted about sixty bufflehead and two female common goldeneye on the glassy surface. The day... continue reading
 
A project I'm working on had me in Willsboro this week – which gave me a great excuse to check out a few points on Lake Champlain for birds after I was finished my work. It was a beautiful, clear, cold day – perfect after so many cloudy days with snow and rain.I checked out the boat launch at Willsboro Point where Willsboro Bay can hold nice numbers of ducks in late fall and winter before it freezes. It was quiet for birdlife, but I did find a pair of hooded mergansers as well as a small group of Canada geese.I headed just south of Willsboro to Noblewood. Noblewood is a park run by the Town... continue reading
 

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