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Sparrows Along Lake Colby
Oct
04
2013

            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.  It is a bit early for ducks, but they will be arriving soon.  There were a couple double-crested cormorants and common loons on the lake though.

            The songbirds and other woodland birds proved more exciting than the birds on the lake.  Flocks of black-capped chickadees containing both golden-crowned and ruby-crowned kinglets moved through the trees, and a blue-headed vireo called.  I also found a small group of yellow-rumped warblers - another common fall species – and both pileated woodpeckers and northern flickers called in the distance. swamp sparrow - Larry

            I poked around in the marshy edges of the lake and its bordering bog mat, and found a few sparrows – something I was looking for.  There were good numbers of white-throated sparrows, song sparrows, and swamp sparrows.  I walked down the railroad bed to the other side of the lake and found a few savannah sparrows as well.  I was looking back over the lake when a call note behind me caught my attention.  I turned to find a rusty blackbird perched on a low tamarack.  I quick tried to put a longer lens on my camera since I had been taking photos of fall foliage, but the bird flew fairly quickly.  I often find rustys in flocks this time of year, but I didn’t see any other blackbirds around. 

            I walked a few steps further where I heard some sparrows calling, and found a few song and swamp sparrows.  Then an adult white-crowned sparrow popped out into view – a very handsome bird.  I was happy with this find, but my attention was soon caught by another sparrow that was staying partly hidden.  It was a Nelson’s sparrow – not a common species and one that passes through our region irregularly at this time of year.  Unfortunately the Nelson’s was quickly chased by a swamp sparrow, and I couldn’t find it again.  I walked down the trail looking for new ways to view the small stand of cattails along the bog mat in an attempt to refind it.  But all I found was one lone swamp sparrow. great blue heron

            Although I had hoped for a second look at the bird, I was happy with my find and after scouring through the area some more, gave up the search to relocate it.  I turned and walked back out, finding a young white-crowned sparrow and a great blue heron as I went. 

           

           

Going to Church
A Fall Hike Up Baker Mountain

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About The Author

Alan Belford has spent much of his life outdoors exploring and learning about wildlife – particularly birds. Alan is often out hiking, paddling, running, or cross country skiing – with his Labrador retriever Wren at this side. A certified teacher and former cross country, baseball, and ultimate frisbee coach, he loves teaching others and has taught multiple natural history (specializing in ornithology) courses for both college students and the general public. He is a licensed guide in New York State, he has traveled widely both domestically and internationally, and he is also a published travel writer and photographer – focusing on outdoor and nature writing.

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