I hiked Baker Mountain in Saranac Lake a few days ago as I was wrapping up my bird surveys for the season. With all of our rain of late, the popular trail was very muddy in spots but passable, and I enjoyed the early morning solitude on the trail. My only company were the droves of mosquitoes which have found the warm, wet weather we’ve been having to their liking, but I was well covered up to help deal with their attack – although they were a ravenous nuisance while I was in the woods. Anyone planning a hiking trip right now would be wise to wear or bring long pants and long-sleeved shirts for protection.
The birds I found were the expected species – with many red-eyed vireos and black-throated green warblers leading the list. There were also many ovenbirds and hermit thrushes. I also found a good number of veeries – a thrush species which I have been noting quite prevalently this year. Veeries sing a beautiful flute-like song which spirals downward, and they are found in deciduous forests as well as young forests.
Bird activity in the small conifers at the top of the mountain was high, and I found black-throated blue, black and white, yellow-rumped, black-throated green, Nashville, and blackburnian warblers (including several recently fledged birds) amidst the small groups of black-capped chickadees and golden-crowned kinglets. I stood there and pished to draw the birds in closer, enjoying the view while taking a water break before starting my descent. After all, Baker offers hikers a good view for the short hike it takes to reach the top.
On the way down I heard the calls of a begging young yellow-bellied sapsucker, and I hunted around until I located the hole in the tree from which the cries emanated. The parents were coming regularly with food to feed it. I watched briefly, but I was tired of beating around off trail and providing food for the mosquitoes myself, so I finished my hike and went back to the car. I had more work to do, but I was already ready for my daily swim in Lake Colby.