Hiking and Birding on Baker Mountain

            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.   red-eyed vireo - Larry

            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. 

Author:Alan Belford
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