Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Adirondacks to Vermont

June 12, 2007

I had been through the Dacks once before, on my way to Burlington, VT where I hoped to find a job doing work on water remediation. That didn't pan out, but I don't think it was me, but rather the load of problems that came down on the organization. I had some hope of finding a wilder part than I'd seen that time, too many cute little villages and self-conscious vacation cottages. I was following a brochure for Hamilton County, completely inside the park, which had a number of birding sites mapped out, and was put out in conjunction with a birding festival that I'd missed by about two weeks. The next county north has a brochure also, and a fest the weekend after Hamilton. That could make a great week of birding in a tight space. I was plugging along, making stops here and there as they fit my route toward Paul Smith, a town with a Visitor's Center for the park. There's another VC also, but it wasn't on my route. The first really great stop was a place called Ferg's Bog, named for a birder who had brought it to a wider public's attention. My first real dose of Boreal Forest. Black Spruce and saturated ground, and Blackburnian Warblers, Palm Warblers, Yellow-throated Flycatchers, and Blue-headed Vireos. Many others too, but I was just getting into the feel of it. Bugs weren't too bad, but I was using lots of repellent, both DEET and organic. Found a Common Loon along the road on a lake.

I had found the back roads, and was getting worried about the lack of Gas stations, and then really worried. Figured there would be one in Paul Smith, but it wasn't hardly a village. The Visitor's Center was just a a little way farther, and I got directions to a station from there. Great naturalist Lydia Wright started filling me in on birds and sites, and I got the brochure for Franklin County and its festival and bird sites and lists. She naturally asked me what I was hoping to find, and made me confess that a Sage Grouse would make my day, if not the whole trip. Then she explained how hard they were to find, and that I couldn't get into the best place in the county, a closed Nature Conservancy plot. Then she told me where there was a free campsite by a pond (we would call them lakes in Arkansas), in a really obscure place. But first, I had to walk some trails at the visitor center, one across a bog was wonderful. There's a plant there with a maroon nodding flower, and in the dryer woods I found Ladies Slippers, the legendary New England orchid. Also some birds. Good birds. Wild Turkey and Olive-sided Flycatcher. I found the gas place as the sun was dropping, got some fresh sub sandwich, backtracked to the pond campsite, and settled in. I had a Marsh Wren come up and harass me. Very mellow, there were ten minute intervals with no human made sound, no car, plane, or boat. In the night I awoke to one of the strangest sounds I'd ever heard, coming from the other side of the lake where I'd seen distant Loons earlier. I had never heard a loon sound like that, nor anything else. I mentioned it to Lydia the next day, and one of the other naturalists said he'd heard the same thing, at a different place, and yes they were loons.

June 13, 2007

I wanted to make a try at some other birds before going back to the visitor center for some morning birding. There was one awful sandy road with a washed out bridge that was said to be good birding, possible Spruce Grouse. It was good, and really buggy. I found my first Alder Flycatcher of the trip, and also Gray Jays. Also Ruby-crowned Kinglet and a Hairy Woodpecker. Then looped back around to the Visitor Center for another hike through the bog. From there I followed the Franklin County map to some sites on the way north. One was a walk along anothere railroad, good for Chestnut-sided Warbler, and then a weird little trail consisting of single plamks supended above watery ground leading up to a fishing spot on another "pond". That had one of the yellowest Bellied Sapsuckers I'd ever seen. The whole place had a magical ambience, the birds seemed bigger and brighter and louder than any place else I'd been. Rose-breasted Grosbeak like flying lipstick. Farther to the north when I was out of the official Dacks, the map showed some grassland areas. I drove around there a lot, but the only new thing was an Eastern Meadowlark. At the end of my New York exploration I had 129 species, having added 36. I was pleased.

Heading east, I'd noted some Nature Conservancy sites on the mapping software, and stopped at one called Sandstone Pavement. It was a lot like the cedar glades in the Ozarks with a different set of plants, bare rock or thin soil, heat and drought stressed vegetation, scrubby trees, brown clumps of short grasses. An unusual place for the north woods country, and the signs said it was one of very few places like it in the world. It wasn't very far from there to the bridge over Lake Champlain into Vermont. I had been tempted to spend some time in Canada, Quebec was ten miles north, just because it would be really easy to add a lot of tics, but the fantasy got out of control, I found myself driving to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in my brain, then getting harrassed at the border coming back, and opted for just following the original plan.


Anonymous Mike said...

That's a great trip down memory lane, JPat. A bunch of us went up to the Adirondacks last June in a successful search for Bicknell's Thrush. We did visit Ferd's Bog, one of the must-visit boreal hotspots, and while we didn't lay eyes on Gray Jays or Boreal Chickadees, I did enjoy the Bog Laurel and carnivorous plant life. What a place!

6:41 AM  

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