Alan Belford

This past weekend, a friend and I headed out with Wren for some nighttime birding in the Madawaska complex north of Paul Smith's. We drove in during the early evening while it was still light which helped us negotiate the soft and rutted road – a precursor of things to come. We parked in the parking area near Indian Rock, and hiked the mile and a half or so to Madawaska Pond on the wide two track... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Birding
Each day of the advancing spring brings with it new arrivals. A brown thrasher fed at my bird feeders for five days and finally left earlier this week, and a few days ago I was excited to find an early indigo bunting feeding with the dark-eyed juncos at my feeders! As Wren and I take our daily afternoon and evening walks, we also continue to find recently arrived birds, such as yellow-bellied... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Birding, Outdoor Recreation, Hiking, Wildlife
While I write a great deal about birds and birding – particularly as spring migration spreads its wings north and our breeding birds are arriving – amphibians offer us some of the first changes in the spring soundscape – before many of our birds begin to sing or even arrive from the south.The past few weeks have been marked with explosive breeding congregations of amphibians as warm weather has... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Outdoor Recreation, Wildlife
The other day, I helped lead a birding trip for The Wild Center to Massawepie Mire west of Tupper Lake. Massawepie is the largest boreal peat land in the state, and it offers great habitat not only for boreal bird species such as gray jays and breeding olive-sided flycatchers, but its complexity of habitats make it great for many species which breed in deciduous and coniferous forests as well.... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation, Hiking, Birding
My wildlife research (focusing mostly on birds) has me in many places across the region at this time of year, and one of them is the Jackrabbit Trail in Saranac Lake as the trail heads out from McKenzie Pond Road. The trail leads into the McKenzie Mountain Wilderness and is one of the routes which hikers can take to both Mt. McKenzie and Mt. Haystack, two of the recently designated Saranac Lake... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Hiking, Outdoor Recreation, Wildlife, Birding
This past weekend I helped lead a birding trip for The Wild Center to explore Spring Pond Bog north of Tupper Lake, an area with a diverse collection of habitats. The bog itself is the second largest bog in the state, and the boreal habitats surrounding it are home to the last, best stronghold for spruce grouse in the state. And while we weren't lucky enough to find any spruce grouse, we didn't... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation, Hiking, Birding
            I taught at Cranberry Lake Biological Station last week and took my students to Spring Pond Bog where we met the DEC spruce grouse research team.  Although common further north in their range (I’ve seen them previously in places like Alaska), spruce grouse are listed as endangered in New York State and they are sought after... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation, Birding
            I led another birding trip for The Wild Center last week, this time to Bloomingdale Bog north of Saranac Lake.  We began our trip along Rt. 55 out of Bloomingdale, walking south into the bog, and while rain threatened and harried us throughout the morning, we had a successful trip.  We began amassing a nice list of... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Wildlife, Summer, Outdoor Recreation, Hiking, Birding
            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... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation, Hiking, Birding
            With summer now in full swing, it is the time of year when Wren and I are taking daily swims in Lake Colby in Saranac Lake.  I return from working in the field each day sticky and sweaty from hiking around and conducting bird or vegetation work, and there is nothing I want more than a swim to cool off.   ... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Wildlife, Dog Friendly, Birding, Summer, Outdoor Recreation, Hiking
            This past weekend, I helped lead a Wild Center birding trip to Madawaska – one of my favorite places in the Adirondacks.  Madawaska is a collection of public land bordered by private easement land, such as the Santa Clara Tract, and the area is composed of a diverse array of habitats.  These varied habitats contain many... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation, Hiking, Birding
            Last week The Wild Center hosted FlavorFest, an all day event built around the tastes of the North Country, and a great excuse to pay the museum a visit.  The event was held in conjunction with the museum’s weekly Thursday Farmer’s Market and the vendors were in their usual location in the outdoor tent.   ... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation, Wellness, Family fun, Exhibits, Summer, Events
            Summer’s advance is marked on the bird calendar by the start of fall migration – a long process which extends into the cold months of the year.  In August and September it revolves around songbirds and shorebirds heading south, getting ahead of chilly temps and difficulty in finding food.  As a result, I’ve been in the... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Fall, Birding, Wildlife, Summer, Outdoor Recreation
            I walk on the Bloomingdale Bog Trail throughout the year, but I love to go there for birds in the late summer.  It is a good place for finding post-breeding and migrating flocks of birds – particularly warblers – which feed in the brushy edges along the trail.  I generally find the south entrance north of Saranac Lake to... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Summer, Outdoor Recreation, Fall, Hiking, Wildlife, Birding
            While many folks are waiting for changing leaves to grace our landscapes with color, I have always liked the late summer and very beginning of fall for the ornamental colors they provide.  As August advances and becomes September, wildflowers continue to bloom along trails, roads, and hillsides.  Their colors mingle with... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Wildflowers, Summer, Outdoor Recreation, Hiking, Family fun, Fall
            I was in Tupper Lake the other day and took advantage of my time there by adding in a quick hike up Panther Mountain during the afternoon.  Panther offers a short hike to a nice view of the distant High Peaks, and is therefore an easy hike to fit into a busy day.  It is only 6 tenths of a mile to the top.  ... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Fishing, Fall, Summer, Outdoor Recreation, Dog Friendly, Wildlife, Hiking, Birding
            I keep a set of bird feeders up year round to attract birds to my yard.  They do remarkably well in that endeavor, and I’m excited when I find a new species of bird for my yard list.  But feeders also attract other things to the yard and I enjoy them as well.          ... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation, Fall, Summer
            At this time of year I begin to check out the back side of Lake Colby in Saranac Lake for ducks and other waterfowl passing through our region on their way south.  We have not had a significant cold front in a while, so when I went to Lake Colby the other day, I wasn’t expecting much.  I was correct in my forecast.... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Outdoor Recreation, Hiking, Fall, Birding, Wildlife, Summer, Paddling
            This past week was a golden combination of perfect weather and amazing leaves, and Wren and I took advantage of it by being out as often as we could manage it.  A few days ago we hiked Baker Mountain in Saranac Lake – one of the newly crowned Saranac Lake 6ers.  Baker is a great short hike if you don’t have much time,... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Hiking, Fall, Summer, Wildlife, Dog Friendly, Outdoor Recreation
            All this warm fall weather has had me wanting to get out for a paddle, and I was finally able to do so this past weekend on Jones Pond near Paul Smiths.  Since Jones Pond is not large, it can be covered in an hour or it can be extended for as long as you want.  And, since Wren does not generally want to lie still for... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Family fun, Fall, Birding, Paddling, Outdoor Recreation, Wildlife, Summer
            Wren and I took a hike at the Paul Smith’s College VIC this past weekend, enjoying the fall colors.  The day, like so many others of late, was warm and sunny, and the chance to get outside was not to be missed.  The VIC’s network of trails takes hikers through a wide range of habitats, and we started our walk along Heron... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Wildlife, Summer, Outdoor Recreation, Hiking, foliage, Family fun, Fall, Dog Friendly, Birding
            Wren and I hiked St Regis Mountain north of Paul Smith’s the other day, taking advantage of the beautiful weather.  St. Regis is short enough to do in half a day and I stopped work early to make sure we had enough daylight. I’ve hiked St. Regis quite a few times before, but this is the first time I’ve hiked it since it was... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Wildlife, Summer, Outdoor Recreation, Hiking, foliage, Family fun, Fall, Dog Friendly
            Warm sunny weather can be difficult to find in the region once the fall sets in, and I took advantage of a warm day to head out on Lake Colby in Saranac Lake for a quick paddle.  I set off from the boat launch making quick progress across the lake.  Lake Colby has a few arms which are fun to explore, and they also serve... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Summer, Paddling, Fall, Outdoor Recreation, foliage, Wildlife
            The fall is the time of year when Wren and I take regular walks on the railroad tracks which run along Lake Colby in Saranac Lake in search of migrating ducks and other water birds.  But with all of the warm weather and southerly winds we’ve had this fall, the waterfowl migration has been slow to get started.  And so our... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:winter, Outdoor Recreation, Hiking, Fall, Birding, Wildlife
            I see muskrats almost every day that I’m out walking with Wren or looking for birds.  I find them in most streams, lakes, and marshes in the region from Bloomingdale Bog to the waterways which empty into Lake Champlain.  This is particularly true during the fall as our days grow shorter and after we change our clocks to... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:winter, Wildlife, Summer, Paddling, Outdoor Recreation, Family fun, Fall
            On my regular walks along Lake Colby in Saranac Lake, I’ve been finding a variety of ducks and other water birds.  The other day was no different as I found five Bufflehead – all males – almost immediately as I started walking along the railroad bed.  There were also two Common Loons on the main body of the lake – both... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Birding, Dog Friendly, Fall, Outdoor Recreation, Wildlife, winter
            We have once again reached the time of year when turkey is in the forefront of our minds and in the center of our plates, and it is worth considering the Wild Turkey which makes the Adirondacks and New York State its home.  Turkeys range across much of the country and all of the state and are common in the region.  I... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:winter, Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, Hunting, Family fun, Fall, Conservation
            As what The Weather Channel was calling Winter Storm Boreas was bearing down on us, many folks were apprehensive about their Thanksgiving travel plans.  On the other hand, others of us were excited about the possibility of some snow and the chance to get out cross country skiing.  Thanksgiving morning dawned clear and... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:winter, Wildlife, Snowshoe, Skiing, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, Fall, Dog Friendly, Cross Country Skiing
            Snow covered landscapes the world over have a few things in common.  They are white.  They are generally cold – recently true around here.  And they are quiet.              The day following our recent snow storm Wren and I skied north from the north... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Dog Friendly, Snowshoe, Skiing, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, winter, Wildlife
            Unfortunately for those of us who love to play in the snow, our temperatures have been fluctuating widely this ski season.  Our warm ups have been followed closely by deep freezes, creating an icy base and constantly varying conditions.  As a result you can’t waste time in enjoying good ski conditions – otherwise they... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:winter, Wildlife, Snowshoe, Skiing, Outdoor Recreation, Family fun, Dog Friendly, Cross Country Skiing, Birding
This week I was in search of an activity during which I could take advantage of our recent late morning and afternoon breeze. This is the time of year when the black flies come out and the wind may be the best repellent I have found so far. The weather was great and I headed to Lake Colby in Saranac Lake, which is my go-to paddle when my time is limited.I unloaded my boat from the car and grabbed... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Wildlife, Spring, Paddling, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, Family fun, Dog Friendly, Birding
 Bog Trekking and BirdwatchingThis past weekend I helped lead a trip into Massawepie Mire, the largest bog in the Adirondacks. Massawepie is an enormous complex of habitats centering on the bog which is accessed via an old railroad bed. My co-leader and I met our group in a parking area surrounded by mixed deciduous forest and we began our day by listening to species like Red-eyed Vireo,... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Wildlife, Summer, Spring, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, Hiking, Family fun, Conservation, Birding
Birds of All Kinds Flock HereThis past weekend I helped lead trips for the Great Adirondack Birding Celebration (the GABC) held at the Paul Smith’s College VIC (Visitor Interpretive Center). In its 12th year, the event brought together birders from across the northeast and even other parts of the country as they explored the region on a variety of field trips. I led the trips into Madawaska, a... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Wildlife, Summer, Spring, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, Hiking, Family fun, Birding
2nd Largest Peat Land in the ADKSSince Spring Pond Bog is the second largest peat land in the Adirondacks, it offers birders an array of habitats for finding species. I’ve led an annual birding trip there with The Wild Center the past few years and we once again took a trip to Spring Pond this year as well.The birds were initially quiet, but we were soon adding species in the coniferous forests... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Wildlife, Wildflowers, Summer, Spring, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, Hiking, Family fun, Birding
The most exciting thing – at least from Wren’s perspective - about the paddle we took on Moose Pond in Bloomingdale this week was the tennis ball she found at the boat launch. I unloaded gear while she played with the ball in the sandy gravel, shoveling it between her legs and then chasing it. Once I was unloaded and ready to push off, I gave her a few throws into the water and she happily... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Wildlife, Summer, Paddling, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, foliage, Fishing, Family fun, Fall, Dog Friendly
Bring your binoculars and cameraDuring the late summer and early fall I make a point to be out with my binoculars everyday – in the morning if I can manage it. After all, it is during this time of year that migrant songbirds are flocking up and passing through our region. And so each day usually begins with me grabbing my binoculars and camera – not to mention Wren – and heading to a local trail... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Wildlife, Summer, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, Family fun, Fall, Dog Friendly, Birding
Shorebirds in the ParkWhile the Champlain Valley rightfully gets the most attention in our region as the place to search for sandpipers and other shorebirds, some shorebirds do invariably make their way south through the central part of the Park. It’s just a matter of finding them since they don’t stay around for long. For instance, over the weekend while I was out looking for warblers along Lake... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Wildlife, Summer, Paddling, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, Family fun, Fall, Birding
Enjoying summer to the endThe final summery days of the season are gold for us all and so Wren and I took advantage of a splendid afternoon earlier this week and set out for Little Green Pond. We started with a swim and as we approached the sandy beach area, I noticed two distant Hooded Mergansers flying along the far shore of the lake. I threw the ball a few times for Wren who plunged in after... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Wildlife, Summer, Paddling, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, Family fun, Fall, Dog Friendly
A Time of Transformation We all look forward to the change of leaf color which so defines this time of year in the Adirondacks. It is, after all, an amazing phenomenon and one of the most incredible events to witness in the entire world! Our cool nights and recent cold fronts have already started the process of changing our leaves and the past week has found that transition happening quickly... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Wildflowers, Paddling, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, Hiking, foliage, Family fun, Fall, Dog Friendly
My folks were watching my 12-year-old niece Rebecca for the weekend and it seemed like a good idea to have them all come up to Saranac Lake for a visit. We spent a few days exploring the area walking in Bloomingdale Bog, checking out the Olympic Center, and going miniature golfing. I had suggested to my niece that perhaps she would like to hike a short mountain, but she was hesitant, unsure... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Family fun, Hiking, Saranac Lake 6er, Summer
The LoonsCommon Loons were already calling from the water as I unloaded the car at Little Clear Pond. As usual Wren was exploring the water and beach area and she kept bringing sticks for me to throw into the lake. After a few throws and after I had toted everything down to the water, we headed out.A pair of Common Loons sat a few hundred meters out with their large, charcoal gray chick. All... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Wildlife, Summer, Spring, Paddling, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, Family fun, Fall, Dog Friendly
A Daily Walk On an almost daily basis this time of year, Wren and I can be found walking along the railroad tracks on the backside of Lake Colby in Saranac Lake. Despite the beat-up nature of some of the tracks, it is a picturesque location and with fewer fishermen there this time of year than there are during the warmer months, we generally have the walk to ourselves. Colby is an easy spot... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, Hiking, Family fun, Fall, Dog Friendly, Birding
Snow has been FallingThe almost daily snowfalls of the past week have quickly transformed our landscape to look a bit like February, and as I walked Wren the other day I realized it might be worth swapping my boots for skis. And so, we headed out in the evening to the North end of the Bloomingdale Bog Trail. The sky was mostly clear and the air was cold as we set out; me on my old, beater, rock... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:winter, Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, Family fun, Fall, Dog Friendly, Cross Country Skiing, Birding
A Cold and Snowy Time of YearWith the holidays and colder months of the year looming, some folks may think that birding in our area has gone into hibernation with many of our mammal species. But in fact the winter months can be a great time to explore the quiet, white woods, and it can be a particularly good time to search for boreal species of birds. After all, while most of our species migrate... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:winter, Wildlife, Snowshoe, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, Dog Friendly, Birding
A Perfect Day for Photos The icy, mixed precipitation we’ve had recently has coated the forests in the North Country white, and I was excited by the prospect of a bright, sunny day to head out with Wren and my camera for photos. We woke early on a clear cold morning and after allowing the temperature to raise a touch, I layered up, grabbed my snowshoes, and we set out into a blindingly white... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:winter, Snowshoe, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, Hiking, Family fun, Dog Friendly
Heading to ScarfaceIt had been a little while since I had been there, so the other day Wren and I grabbed my snowshoes and headed to the Scarface Mountain Trail in Ray Brook. My usual choice for winter activity is cross country skiing. But, I often find that I am more observant of my surroundings when I’m on foot, since I’m able to take my time. This means I don’t have to focus on the terrain so... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:winter, Wildlife, Snowshoe, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, Family fun, Dog Friendly
Catching the Holiday CrudMy holidays were nice as I celebrated the season with friends and family. But there has been one lingering reminder of them that I’d like to shed. Somewhere in a concoction involving lack of sleep, traveling, visiting friends and family, and eating poorly, I managed to succumb to a spreading crud and get sick. Sick enough that I have been laid up for a bit and I have had... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:winter, Snowshoe, Outdoor Recreation, Hiking, Family fun, Dog Friendly, Cross Country Skiing
New Snow, New TracksAs the day warmed from its initially cold beginning, Wren and I took an afternoon this week to hike into the McKenzie Mountain Wilderness Area from the Haystack Mountain Trailhead along Route 86 in Ray Brook. The day had started out not only cold, but clear and blue. Gradually the clouds drifted in to blot out the sun before we departed, but the afternoon was pleasant, and the... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:winter, Wildlife, Snowshoe, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, Hiking, Dog Friendly
Looking for Exciting Winter BirdsWinter birding in this region is often a game of looking for very specific species, rather than it being about seeing lots of species in a single day. This year has been predicted to be a good year for Common Redpolls arriving from the north, but it has been difficult to find redpolls during the beginning of the winter. In the past week or so that has begun to... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:winter, Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, Hiking, Dog Friendly, Birding
Traveling North For CarnivalMy niece Rebecca has been asking to come to Winter Carnival in Saranac Lake the past couple years, but has always had conflicts with school and other obligations. This year her regular requests finally won my family over and they came north last weekend to enjoy the beginning of Carnival for the first time. They explored the ice palace both during the day and at night... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Wildlife, Skiing, Outdoor Recreation, Family fun, Dog Friendly, Cross Country Skiing, Birding, winter
Lots of Snow So We Can PlayAs usual, Wren and I have been cross-country skiing on a regular basis this winter as our snow, once a bit thin, has been piling up. One of our favorite places to go is the network of trails off of the Fish Pond Trail in Lake Clear. The trails there are designated cross-country skiing trails and they wind through beautiful deciduous and mixed forest and around the... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:winter, Wildlife, Skiing, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, Family fun, Dog Friendly, Cross Country Skiing
Using the Long Weekend to Go BirdingMy brother Dave recently took advantage of the long weekend and came up for some winter birding in our area. Saturday’s weather offered up light snow showers, but warmer temperatures than we’ve had of late, and we headed out with Wren to Bigelow Road to start our day. Despite the pleasant temperature, the road was quiet, although we did hear a Boreal Chickadee... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:winter, Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, Hiking, Family fun, Dog Friendly, Birding
Cold Weather BirdingWinter birding in Saranac Lake and the rest of the Adirondacks often revolves around finding resident boreal species – not a bad consolation for a cold walk. And so, Wren and I have been out throughout the winter to find species like Black-backed Woodpecker, Gray Jay, and Boreal Chickadee. The past month has also brought Bohemian Waxwings – a winter specialty – from the north... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:winter, Wildlife, Spring, Snowshoe, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, Dog Friendly, Birding
The First Warm Days of SpringThe temperatures a few days last week broke into the 40s marking the beginning of spring skiing conditions across the region. The warm days and soft snow were a big change from the cold weather which had dominated our forecasts for much of the winter. It arrived right on time - after all, spring officially begins this coming weekend. Soft spring snow may be slow, but... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:winter, Spring, Skiing, Outdoor Recreation, Family fun, Dog Friendly, Cross Country Skiing
A Crew of Students from SyracuseThe birding club from SUNY-ESF in Syracuse came up this past weekend to look for Adirondack birds with me. I teach Field Ornithology courses for ESF at Cranberry Lake Bio Station during the summer and I’m always excited to see folks again. We met in Bloomingdale Bog where the group was having difficulty attracting the attention of any Gray Jays near the feeders. So... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:winter, Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation, Dog Friendly, Birding
The Battle of the SeasonsThe past few weeks have seen the sun and winter battle for supremacy across our region. The sun’s rays on longer days have been beautifully warm, and yet our skiing base has stayed strong thanks to consistently chilly temps and cold nights. The result has been great cross-country skiing. While trail skiing comes and goes and has been icy and largely un-skiable of late,... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:winter, Spring, Skiing, Outdoor Recreation, Family fun, Dog Friendly, Cross Country Skiing
Ringing Telephones in My YardI’ve been waking each morning of late to the jingling song of Dark-eyed Juncos which have been filling my yard and gorging on bird seed. I kept a few juncos around through much of the winter, but as spring has pushed in from the south they have followed in numbers. Then a new song was added to their ringing telephone chorus early last week. A Fox Sparrow – a migrant... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Wildlife, Spring, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, Birding
First Hike of the SpringWith our snow melted and ski season over, it was time for Wren and I to take our inaugural hike of the season. We’ve been walking at places like the Bloomingdale Bog Trail and the railroad tracks behind Lake Colby, but we hadn’t done a proper hike yet this spring. And Baker Mountain is a great place to break in the hiking season.The sun and clouds had staged a skirmish... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Wildlife, Summer, Spring, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, Family fun, Dog Friendly
A High Diversity Time of YearOne of the best things about spring and early summer in the Adirondacks is the diversity of birds that can be found in our area during a simple walk. My walks are almost always taken with Wren who wants nothing more than to run, play, and swim all the time. More than that, her high energy level requires that I take her out regularly and I am compelled to go out even... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Wildlife, Summer, Spring, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, Hiking, Family fun, Dog Friendly, Birding
A Great Place for an Evening PaddleI made sure to take my nieces and nephew paddling the other week when they came to visit – it's an integral part of an Adirondack adventure, after all. Lake Colby is a great spot for an easy outing, so we all loaded into my large boat and set off. My niece Emily paddled in the bow, I was in the stern, and Rebecca and Tyler sat on Crazy Creek chairs in the middle... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Wildlife, Summer, Spring, Paddling, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, Family fun, Dog Friendly
Great Weather for Paddling! With so much warm, sunny weather of late, I have been itching to get out paddling with Wren. As a result, I’ve been driving around with my canoe on my car to make such adventures quicker to organize since the loading process can sometimes delay things. So with my boat pre-loaded, Wren and I were out fairly early the other day to check out the paddling and birding... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Birding, Dog Friendly, Natural History, Outdoor Recreation, Paddling, Spring, Summer, Wildlife
A Morning Start on a Hot DayWith another hot day coming, Wren and I headed out for a morning paddle on Jones Pond before the sun began to bake the landscape. The day was cool, but rapidly warming as I prepared for our outing, listening to a singing Blue-headed Vireo and White-throated Sparrow. As I fiddled with my gear, I chatted with a couple from Georgia who were camping in one of the campsites... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Wildlife, Summer, Paddling, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, Dog Friendly, Birding
The Best Way to Cool OffOur warm weather of late has found me chatting with friends and family further south who are complaining of the hot and muggy conditions where they live. To be sure it has been warm here and very hot elsewhere – but Wren and I have a solution that eludes many others thanks to where we live. After all, the region is dotted with seemingly countless numbers of lakes and we... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Summer, Paddling, Outdoor Recreation, Family fun, Dog Friendly
All Sorts of Sizes, Shapes, and ColorsWhile I spend a lot of my time in the late summer enjoying the shapes and colors of migrating birds as they pass through our region, I also love to botanize as I hike, checking out the kaleidoscope of wildflowers which grace our trails and fields this time of year. And so if I’m not searching for birds, I’m often hiking with Wren and snapping shots of flowers... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Summer, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, foliage, Family fun, Fall, Dog Friendly
One of My Favorite Times of YearWhile our recent warm weather and the general southerly flow of air had seemed to slow the arrival of migrants through the region, the last few days have really picked up the pace. It has added a great deal of excitement to my daily walks with Wren, and these mixed flocks of migrants and dispersing birds make the late summer one of my favorite times of year to go... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Wildlife, Summer, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, Fall, Birding
Hanging onto SummerWith our current change in weather on the way, Wren and I set out to enjoy one of the last warm days of the fall. I wanted to paddle, so we went to Little Green Pond where we parked and immediately set out for a hike. Wren does not particularly like being confined to the canoe so I wanted to let her run around and play for a while before we paddled. We hiked along Little Clear... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Wildlife, Summer, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, foliage, Fall, Dog Friendly, Birding
Birds on the MoveAt this time of year I pay special attention to the birds migrating through the various lakes of our region, and each day finds Wren and me out somewhere to see what’s on the move. My favorite place to check in the fall is the railroad tracks along Lake Colby in Saranac Lake where the waterfowl migration is just beginning to pick up. While the past several weeks have been good... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, Hiking, Fall, Birding
The Thing Everyone Wants to DoWhenever anyone comes to visit me in Saranac Lake there is always one thing on their to-do list: feed the Gray Jays along the Bloomingdale Bog Trail. They are a sought-after boreal species which draw many birders to our area, but more than that they are simply fun to observe. So whether it is my birding brothers looking for species they can’t find at home or my niece... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:winter, Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, Hiking, Family fun, Fall, Dog Friendly, Birding
A Sluggish StartIt's a fact that our cross-country skiing season did not start quickly or with a lot of snow this year. While we have a had a few great days in mid-January, they've been followed by an icy, rainy affair with little white powder left to help hide the hard, silver ice beneath. Take a misstep and you soon find out that our snow in many places has only been a veneer which hides slick... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:winter, Wildlife, Skiing, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, Family fun, Dog Friendly, Cross Country Skiing
Flocks of Feeding BirdsWinter birding across the region often involves searching for specialty birds which migrate to our area or linger during the cold months. With our warblers, flycatchers, vireos, and others long gone, this usually means we are looking for flocks of birds – many of which visit yards and bird feeders to help get them through this lean time of year.Bohemian Waxwings Have Been... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:winter, Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, Birding
Signs of SpringWhile winter has not yet been sent packing from our forecasts here in the Adirondacks, its rather light grip on us this year has been getting pried free by warm temperatures and fingers of sunlight. They have melted almost all of our snow and are now pressing on our frozen lakes to thaw. And our earliest arriving birds are responding to the cues.Blackbirds and SongA couple of weeks... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:winter, Wildlife, Spring, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, Birding
Spring Temperature FluctuationsSpring seemed to come in a hurry to the Tri-Lakes Region this year. It had already been a tough year for cross-country skiing, and I had to put my skis away for good in March. The last two years I skied into the middle of April. But open water on the lakes and warm temps meant I could find ducks moving through and stopping over on places like Lake Colby in Saranac... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Wildlife, Spring, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, Dog Friendly, Birding
Rain, Rain, Rain…And More RainNot every day of the Great Adirondack Birding Celebration was as perfect as the Osgood River paddle on Saturday. But, looking back on that fun weekend, we'd do it all over again.Sunday’s weather was the complete opposite of the beautiful day before. In fact, I had noted the thin wispy cirrus clouds moving overhead during our paddle - marking a change in the weather.... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Wildlife, Summer, Spring, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, Events, Birding
Hunting for a Tough SpeciesA friend of mine contacted me about the potential of finding Philadelphia Vireo in the Spring Pond Bog area north of Tupper Lake (and west of Lake Clear and the Floodwood Road area). He had thought he heard one and wanted me to come along some time to help him find it. I was able to join him a couple weeks later and we wound through the large complex toward the location... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Wildlife, Summer, Spring, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, Birding
An Exciting Time of YearMy busy schedule doesn’t always allow me to get outside as often or for as long as I’d like. But I crave my daily walks in the woods and Wren makes certain I don’t leave them off my to-do list. That’s fine by me because it not only gets me outside, but outside with my binoculars at a time of year when many species of birds are on the move. The great thing about fall is... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Wildlife, Summer, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, Fall, Birding
An initiation hike I had some friends visit this past weekend, and so like I often do with first time visitors, I took them on a hike up Baker Mountain. The mile-long hike is relatively easy and the payoff view from the top is splendid. Wren, my dog, led us up the trail which runs up the backside of the mountain. She nosed her way along as we took our time on the climb, enjoying the... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Fall, Hiking, Outdoor Recreation
Warm Fall DaysSoaking everything we could out of our recent warm days, Wren and I paddled Lake Clear Outlet the other evening. The sun shined through the glowing trees as we wound our way along Forest Home Road to the small put-in on the side of the road. Forest Home is one of those windy, forest-lined roads everyone should drive in fall. Wren sat in the car while I unloaded the gear and we set... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Wildlife, Paddling, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, foliage, Fall, Dog Friendly, Birding
A Shifting Mix of DucksAs always this time of year, the birds Wren and I see on our walks change daily, and it is always enjoyable to see what we will find. That means I have to get out as much as I can and Wren is good about not allowing me to forget to do so. Lake Colby is always a happening place this time of year, and once again it has not disappointed us this year. Ducks use the backside of... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:winter, Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, Fall, Birding
Birds on the MindWhile a certain bird was on the minds of most people last month with the Thanksgiving holiday, Wren and I were out each day trying our luck to see what other birds we could find. With the recent cold front bringing snow and north winds, I was hoping it would reverse our fortunes of the previous week when warm air from the south stopped many things – particularly waterfowl - from... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:winter, Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, Fall, Birding
Changing SeasonsI’m always a bit slow on getting prepared for cross-country ski season. My mind slowly arrives at the realization that winter is at our doorstep as I look at a snowy forecast and I begin to think about getting my ski gear out of summer hiding. Of course that means making space by clearing out canoeing gear which is likely still sitting by my front door hoping it is summer. I... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:winter, Snowshoe, Outdoor Recreation, Family fun, Fall, Dog Friendly, Cross Country Skiing
A Welcome Reprieve After Holiday SicknessAfter battling sickness through the holidays, I was ready to head out into the woods once I began to feel better. As a result, the timing was good for the Saranac Lake Christmas Bird Count – this year held on New Year’s Day. The day sent birders across a count area which included both Saranac Lake and Lake Placid, and as I was given a portion of the count... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:winter, Wildlife, Snowshoe, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, Hiking, Family fun, Events, Birding
A Tantalizing ForecastI noticed the prediction for snow over a week in advance — my work and interests require me to check the weather regularly. But then forecasters played with our hearts and minds, increasing the projection for snow the one day, only to drop it the next.Accurately foreseeing the weather (and something as specific as snowfall) is a difficult thing to do, no matter how solid the... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:winter, Snowshoe, Skiing, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, Family fun, Events, Dog Friendly, Cross Country Skiing
Deep SnowSnow had been falling here seemingly every day for a few weeks, punctuated by a few big storms which rapidly increased its measure in the woods. With each day, Wren and I had been taking full advantage of the bounty, going on snow-filled walks and practicing our animal tracking skills, while I attempted photos of snowy landscapes.Last week we tried to combine those activities when we set... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:winter, Wildlife, Skiing, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, Dog Friendly, Cross Country Skiing
Deep SnowIt's spring and the Adirondacks are, predictably, unpredictable. Recently we've had a few amazing snow falls alternating with warm spring days. There's no guarantee how long the snow will last, or if another storm will grace us before the warm weather firmly settles in the mountains. For now, I'll take advantage of the snow that's still here, and although not the popular vote - I wouldn'... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:winter, Wildlife, Skiing, Outdoor Recreation, Natural History, Dog Friendly, Cross Country Skiing
A changing landscape Spring is an amazing time of transition in the Saranac Lake Region of the Adirondacks. For the past few weeks Wren and I have been exploring it on our daily – and often twice daily – walks, monitoring the changes as they’ve been happening. Even as the woods remained filled with snow, the indications of spring were everywhere. Here are a few highlights of our... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Birding, Dog Friendly, Family fun, Natural History, Outdoor Recreation, Spring, Wildlife, winter
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... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:
Another year of the GABC Every year, the transition from spring into summer in the Adirondacks is marked by the Great Adirondack Birding Festival (GABC), hosted by the Paul Smith’s College VIC. I once again helped lead a couple of trips, and as usual I led the hunt for birds in Madawaska. It is one of my favorite places to explore in the region, and a place that I am always looking for an... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Birding, Conservation, Hiking, Natural History, Outdoor Recreation, Spring, Summer, Wildlife
It’s that time of year It sometimes takes a bit to get going, but the fall migration in the Adirondacks has been underway for a while, and it has been a lot of fun as of late. Our drippy weather the past few weeks has helped as well — the birds often actively feed down low on such days and are not being flushed south by strong north winds. Walking along Lake Colby A little over... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Birding, Fall, Hiking, Natural History, Outdoor Recreation, Summer, Wildlife
Amazing Fall Weather Our weather as of late has been nothing short of amazing, and so my friend and I decided to take advantage of our sunny streak by squeezing in an evening paddle after work the other day. That’s one of the best things about living around here – there are so many lakes and ponds to explore that you can easily add a quick paddle in on a busy day. And at this point in the... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Fall, foliage, Outdoor Recreation, Paddling
A Quick Hike If time to fit in a hike is short, then Mount Baker is always a good bet. After all, it is only about a mile to the summit, and it offers a rewarding view for the effort. And so, with a few friends in town in search of an easy hike, Baker was our choice. Colors and Birds Wren led us up the trail, through a golden beech forest on the backside of the mountain.... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Birding, Dog Friendly, Fall, foliage, Hiking, Natural History, Outdoor Recreation, Saranac Lake 6er, Spring, Summer, Wildlife
Winter is Finally Here! It took a long time to show up this year with our crazy warm fall, but winter weather has finally started to arrive in the northern Adirondacks. Our recent wet weather aside, little by little we’ve built up some snow as evidenced by my regular need to shovel. It all makes Wren, my four-legged companion, excited as she plays with her tennis ball in the snow... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Dog Friendly, Family fun, Natural History, Outdoor Recreation, Skiing, Wildlife, winter
Monitoring the snow depth The beginning of ski season is often a game of figuring out how much snow depth we have and how much snow coverage is needed to explore certain trails. So early season skis tend to be on open trails and fields which catch more snowfall – unless the wind is pushing it off. With the depth of our snow increasing of late and with the storm late last week, Wren (my four... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Cross Country Skiing, Dog Friendly, Family fun, Natural History, Outdoor Recreation, Skiing, Wildlife, winter
The Time of Year to Count Birds While many of our regional Christmas Bird Counts occur closer to Christmas, the Saranac Lake count happens near the New Year and I was able to help with it again this year. The count is popular with local birders because it covers both Saranac Lake and Lake Placid and because it also covers Bloomingdale Bog, Bigelow Road, and some of the boreal habitats... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Birding, Cross Country Skiing, Events, Family fun, Hiking, Natural History, Outdoor Recreation, Snowshoe, Wildlife, winter
A Change in the Fortunes of the Weather Let’s be honest. January was a frustrating month in the Olympic Region for anyone who loves skiing and winter sports. Check that – January was a wildly frustrating month for anyone who enjoys such activities. Our variable and constantly changing temperatures gave us rain and warmth followed by frigid drops which froze everything solid – it was no fun for... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Cross Country Skiing, Dog Friendly, Natural History, Outdoor Recreation, Skiing, Wildlife, winter
Blue Skies and a Day of Birding With a beautiful blue winter sky above us, my brother, nephew, and I set out the other day to enjoy some boreal birding in the Bloomingdale Bog Complex north of Saranac Lake. The afternoon was forecast to turn rainy (ugh) anyway, so we wanted to enjoy the snow and winter before that happened. And for those of us who aren't yet ready for spring, this is the... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Birding, Fall, Family fun, Hiking, Natural History, Outdoor Recreation, Snowshoe, Wildlife, winter
Chilly Spring Weather While it may not have been welcomed by many folks, my skis and I were happy about the chilly weather we had for much of March and April. I was out skiing and enjoying the snow as much as I could. But, when the weather turned warmer and finished off the cross-country skiing season, it ushered in spring birding and I happily set aside my skis for my... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Birding, Hiking, Natural History, Outdoor Recreation, Spring, Wildlife, winter
A Chilly Start to Spring While winter held off the arrival of spring this year with both hands, warm weather is finally coming on in full force – and birds are coming with it. After all, even with the chilly weather we’ve had this spring, birds have been on the move – with ducks like Ring-necked Duck, Bufflehead, Lesser Scaup, and both Hooded and Common Mergansers on Lake Flower... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Birding, Events, Family fun, Natural History, Outdoor Recreation, Paddling, Spring, Summer, Wildlife
Rainy day fun Rainy weather didn’t stop us from having fun in the woods when I helped out with a Lake Placid Middle School field trip at the Paul Smith’s College VIC. Thankfully the steady rain abated early in the day and we were left with mostly damp and misty conditions. Students alternated between stations to look at stream invertebrates, reptiles, amphibians, and... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Birding, Dog Friendly, Family fun, Hiking, Natural History, Outdoor Recreation, Spring, Summer, Wildlife
A beautiful morning It was a sunny and warming morning when Wren, my dog, and I set off along the Bloomingdale Bog Trail to do some birding. We had walked the north end of the trail off Route 55 in Bloomingdale the previous week to check out the Gray Jays, but on this day we were hiking from the south entrance off Route 86 north of Saranac Lake. Wren and I often walk there, but my plan on this... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Birding, Dog Friendly, Fall, Hiking, Natural History, Outdoor Recreation, Spring, Summer, Wildlife
An early morning walk My dog, Wren, and I travel to lots of cool places in the North Country, and the other day we had the chance to explore Dexter Bog. Dexter is a small area of boreal habitat, but despite its size birders can find a wide diversity in a short period of time. Our early morning walk began with Yellow-rumped Warblers, Common Yellowthroats, a Black-throated Blue... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Birding, Outdoor Recreation, Paddling, Summer
The End of a Beautiful Day A splendid summer afternoon was turning to evening as Wren and I pushed off onto the waters of Lake Clear Outlet – one of my favorite local paddles. As I almost always do when I paddle, I skirted the outline of the waterbody, hoping to find birds and other wildlife tucked along the edge of the water. After all, the outlet is outlined in many places with a marshy... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Birding, Dog Friendly, Fall, Natural History, Outdoor Recreation, Paddling, Summer, Wildlife
A Place You have to Visit Jones Pond is one of those places that requires a visit or two every year. And so, the other evening Wren and I could be found preparing to set off onto the small, intimate body of water. She played in the shallows while I unloaded the boat. Once ready I kicked us off from shore, spotting a Broad-winged Hawk disappear into the trees as I did.... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Birding, Fall, Outdoor Recreation, Paddling, Wildlife
A time of year to be savored Fall in the Adirondacks is meant to be experienced. It is a time of cool nights and warm days. It is a time of frosty mornings, the icy coating soon to be burned off by the bright sun. And it is a time of bright leaves which paint the landscape in a kaleidoscope of color. And so fall must be savored. After all, the warm days offer us a throwback to summer, and... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Fall, foliage, Outdoor Recreation, Paddling
A great time of year for a hike Fall is made for hiking. It possesses the perfect mix of pleasantries — leaf color, pleasant temperatures, and no bugs — that appeals to time outside. So when a couple friends of mine came to visit the other weekend, we hit the trail. That started with an afternoon hike up Baker Mountain, but our longer, planned hike came the following morning when we... [Read More]
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Author:Alan Belford
Categories:Dog Friendly, Fall, Hiking, Natural History, Outdoor Recreation, Saranac Lake 6er, Summer, Wildlife

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Tuesday, October 9th, 2018
Submitted by guest writer, Elisabeth Marchbanks I must admit, fall is my favorite season in the Adirondacks. As the air becomes crisper and the leaves start to change their color, I can’t help but...
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A great time of year for a hike Fall is made for hiking. It possesses the perfect mix of pleasantries — leaf color, pleasant temperatures, and no bugs — that appeals to time outside. So when...
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