The Fast Pace of Spring
I know that it shouldn’t, but May always seems to sneak up on me. Or at least it feels that way. The pace of spring accelerates day after day as I reach one of my busiest months of the year and then … it’s May. And before I know it, May is over. And then June is just as busy – that’s just how it works in the bird world. We cram a lot into these months!
But before we let June catch us unprepared, we should be ready for the 2017 Great Adirondack Birding Celebration (GABC), June 2-4 at the Paul Smith’s College VIC – because like the rest of spring, it is coming sooner than many of us expect. After all, we are less than a month away!
So Much for Birders to do!
This year’s GABC will once again feature a list of trips to destinations which include the St. Lawrence Valley, the Champlain Valley, Bloomingdale Bog, Madawaska, Spring Pond Bog, and Whiteface Mountain. There is also a paddling trip with Common Loon biologists, and a beginning birder trip – any trip choice a participant makes is excellent. The event will also highlight the keynote talk of Philip Hoose, award-winning author, musician, and conservationist – such a combination sounds like a good fit for an Adirondack event!
For my part, I plan on attending not only the talk but also the yummy meals (and I do eat a lot at them!), which I earn by leading trips each year. I usually help with one or both of the Madawaska trips (on Saturday and Sunday), and this year is scheduled to be no different. It is always a fun time to get to know folks while I guide them in the field. And we see some great birds too. And so if the talk, the camaraderie, and the amazing setting aren’t enough to attract you to the VIC, consider the birds.
And Then There are the Birds
For instance, on our Madawaska trips we often find 16 or 17 species of warblers. Not only that, but trips to other locations such as Whiteface Mountain add species like Blackpoll Warbler, and other trips have found Cape May Warbler in the past. In fact, twenty species of warblers breed in the Olympic Region, and the GABC gives you the opportunity to see all of them. Not only that, but the region is loaded with boreal habitats and the GABC seeks them all out – from Bloomingdale Bog to Whiteface Mountain.
And so participants not only find Gray Jays, Black-backed Woodpeckers, and Boreal Chickadees, but they also could chance upon that most sought-after of boreal birds, Spruce Grouse. While the odds of finding one are small, on-going DEC recovery efforts in both Madawaska and Spring Pond Bog mean that there is still a chance for birders to glimpse one of these state-listed endangered birds. And the list of boreal specialties doesn’t end there either. Last year I helped lead a paddling trip on the Osgood River through magnificent boreal habitat, and not only did we find a medley of warblers and species like Gray Jay, but we also found both Yellow-bellied and Olive-sided Flycatchers, and the latter sat in plain view offering us Quick, Three Beers, again and again. It was one of the best looks I’ve ever had of an Olive-sided.
And if you are concerned about rainy weather, a number of the trips are based from vehicles along roads. Last year’s GABC offers another example on this. On Sunday, I led a trip into Madawaska and it poured. I mean dumped. It rained and rained and just when we thought it would stop, it rained some more. So we simply chose to work our way along Blue Mountain Road and forego any long walks. And then when the rain finally stopped, the birds were everywhere – singing, feeding on insects, and adding to our list which numbered better than 50 species despite the initially difficult conditions.
Two other van trips take birders to the St. Lawrence and the Champlain Valleys – where quite different bird communities await them. There they may find species like Baltimore Oriole, Yellow-throated Vireo, Warbling Vireo, American Kestrel, Willow Flycatcher, Eastern Towhee, Bobolink, and Blue-winged and Golden-winged Warblers – as well as other species less common in the middle of the Adirondacks. And for those excited for Adirondack boreal birds and specialties, the Whiteface Mountain trip is great for Bicknell’s Thrush, and birders in search of that species – not to mention Swainson’s Thrush, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Blackpoll Warbler, Boreal Chickadee, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, and other montane spruce-fir forest birds – should make sure they sign up to explore the mountain.
It is this diversity of species which makes the North Country, the Adirondacks, and the Olympic Region so great to explore. And the GABC does a great job helping folks get out to find this wide assortment of birds. After all, that’s what May and June are all about.