A few weeks ago, the Saranac Lake Christmas Bird Count (CBC) was held around the New Year as it always is. And so Wren, my dog, and I did our part covering a segment of the count area, hiking through the winter snow, and counting birds as we went.
One of the hopes of the CBC was to find the “winter finches” — those sought-after species which are generally more common at... [Read More]
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]
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]
Adirondack hiking is rightly famous for its millions of acres of rugged wilderness. Isn't hiking about getting out into nature? Isn't "luxury hiking" a contradiction in terms?
Not when we are hiking at the Paul Smith's Visitor Interpretive Center, a short drive from Saranac Lake. It's hiking in ways the whole family can appreciate.
Known locally as "the VIC," this project was developed in 1989... [Read More]
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... [Read More]
Spring has Sprung!
Each walk that Wren and I take during this time of year is an exploration of what birds have arrived since the last time we were out. As such the species mix often changes from day to day or even between morning and evening. That’s true of whether we’re exploring the trails around Saranac Lake, Lake Placid, or whether we’re in the surrounding valleys. After... [Read More]
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 binoculars... [Read More]
A Happy Change in our Snow Fortune
I’m not going to lie. A few weeks ago I was pretty miserable about our lack of snow. In fact I was really quite grumpy. The ground was muddy and brown with patches of ice. The sky threatened rain and then delivered on its promise. And I looked continually at the forecast in the hopes that it would turn to more seasonable temperatures. It finally did.
In... [Read More]
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... [Read More]
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]
Submitted by Guest Blogger: Kathy Barlow
Ten Reasons to be grateful in and around Saranac Lake
This year, after a rainy (and cool) spring and summer, autumn gave birth to warm days, cool nights, and a festival of colors in the mountains. The extended good weather gave us more opportunities to take advantage of all our area has to offer. Now, as the days are getting shorter and the stars shine... [Read More]
The warm autumn weather we’ve been having beckons me to use my canoe, and so Wren and I have been trying to get out whenever we can in order to enjoy the water before the cold settles in for good this fall. Time is often a fleeting commodity, and with light waning with each passing day, it is fortuitous that we have so many great local paddling destinations from which to... [Read More]
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... [Read More]
A Chance to Explore Outdoors
It had been a long, busy – too busy! – week, and I was chomping at the bit to get outside and do some exploring. Our beautiful weather found me wanting to paddle all week. And so as Friday afternoon came, Wren and I loaded up the canoe and headed for the water – first taking an afternoon walk along Lake Colby. The walk was pleasant and we found... [Read More]
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... [Read More]
A fun day
After the fun and excitement of the solar eclipse last week, Wren and I celebrated by going for a swim at Lake Clear Beach – always a good choice on a warm, summer day. Wren dug in the sand and chased her tennis ball while I swam laps and then snorkeled the line of weeds offshore. The windy day had made the water rather turbid, however, and I eventually stopped to play with Wren... [Read More]
Cones on the conifers
I had been eyeing the cones on our conifers this summer with some anticipation and excitement. After all, with cones come crossbills and it was no surprise when both Red and White-winged Crossbills began to show up across the region. They’ve been found in places like the Minerva area, Silver Lake Bog, the area around Paul Smiths, and even more locally in the... [Read More]
A Place I’ve been wanting to Explore
I had been planning to check out Quebec Brook (part of the Madawaska complex) with my canoe ever since the DEC managed to renegotiate the access with a local landowner, so when a friend of mine contacted me that she and a couple other folks were hoping to go there, it was an easy choice to join them. The access which had been in question comes off Rt. 458... [Read More]
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 April... [Read More]
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]
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]
A Regular Trip in WinterWith snow falling almost every day, it was only a matter of time before Wren and I set out to explore the cross country ski trails off Fish Hatchery Road in Lake Clear. It is a fun network of trails and there always seems to be more snow there than there is in town. The trails are also great because they can be skied as a challenging backcountry experience, or skiers can... [Read More]
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]
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]
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]
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]
Saranac Lake has a unique attraction which is readily accessible for almost everyone. It's like a village. Made of boulders.The McKenzie Pond Boulder Trail is just a few minutes from town, but has so much to offer. Whether we are looking for a quick and scenic hike or we are brushing up on our rock climbing skills, this easy trail, which is also easily accessible, is a delightful destination.[img... [Read More]
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]
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]
People often don't realize we have local farms near Saranac Lake. All kinds of crops flow from nearby fields into our restaurants, diners, and delis. This is one of the reasons our local dining is such a pleasure to experience.
North of Saranac Lake, bordered by the McKenzie Mountain Wilderness to the east, and the Saint Regis Canoe Wilderness to the west, there is a broad plateau far more... [Read More]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
Showing the Cousins the RopesMy niece Rebecca had hiked Baker Mountain in Saranac Lake with me last summer when she came up to visit for the first time, and so this year she was excited to show Baker and its view off to her cousins Tyler and Emily who joined her to visit me this year. It had been a warm, summer day when we set off late in the afternoon up the trail. The trailhead appeared busy at... [Read More]
Summer!June in the Olympic Region is a wonderful time of year. And birding at the Intervale Lowlands Preserve in Lake Placid is one of the best ways to enjoy it. With long days and lots of singing birds, it is easy to tally up a great list of warblers and other species. Even better for me is that doing so is part of my job. As one of the many hats I wear, I conduct a variety of field research and... [Read More]
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]
Leading a Trip for the GABCI once again led a birding trip into Madawaska for the Great Adirondack Birding Celebration in Paul Smith’s last weekend. Madawaska is one of my favorite places to explore, and I’m always happy for an excuse to do so. Our group initially carpooled along Blue Mountain Road – a route that always involves many stops since it is such a productive place to bird. Soon after... [Read More]
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]
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]
To Everything There is a SeasonTransitions are always times of uncertainty. A big move. A new job. Starting at a new school. So it can be with the changes of the seasons. As winter ends and spring begins, we muddle through a time of year when the weather can be warm and bright one day and the next day see rain, snow, or sleet. This variation from warm spring days to frigid, arctic conditions when... [Read More]
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]
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]
The unique geography of the Adirondacks has created some distinctive cultural traditions. The remote location, rugged beauty, and abundant wilderness led the small village of Saranac Lake into ways of life we still observe today.Celebrate with us!WINTER CARNIVALOne thing we must have in our Winter Carnival is the Ice Palace -- our term for the amazing structure we create as a focus for the... [Read More]
A Snowy Landscape Winter Storm Damon dumped about a foot and a half of snow on us last week and Wren and I were ready for it. The first chance we had, we headed to the Jackrabbit Trail along McKenzie Pond Road in Saranac Lake. The day was overcast and not terribly cold and the popular trail was already fairly well skied in. We skied through a landscape of snow-laden spruce bent low with the... [Read More]
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]
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]
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]
Horseback riding is a wonderful way to experience our Saranac Lake wilderness. We see Adirondack forest from a new perspective, get the benefit of a guided tour, and experience nature with a large animal companion. Emerald Springs Ranch, in nearby Lake Clear, has extensive trails and friendly horses. They are all Registered Quarter Horses, born and raised on the ranch. During the rider... [Read More]
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]
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]
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]
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]
I have always enjoyed paddling Lake Clear Outlet. The water body is small enough to be paddled in a short period of time, but it contains enough nooks and weedy edges to explore for a few hours if you want. Add to that the potential of paddling Lake Clear itself, and paddlers can take a long time plying the linked waters of the... [Read More]
The adventure of climbing Azure Mountain begins on the road to the trailhead. Azure sits off Blue Mountain Road north and west of Paul Smith’s and hikers have a long and winding road to drive whether they come from the south or north. I drove in from the south out of Paul Smith’s, negotiating nearly 20 miles along Keese Mills Road... [Read More]
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]
One of the many professional hats I wear finds me teaching Field Ornithology courses at Cranberry Lake Biological Station for the State University of New York. The other week I was teaching the Ornithology portion of a Wildlife Techniques class, and the students and I were to be seen traipsing around various habitats in the Adirondacks and North Country.On one day we headed out through Lake... [Read More]
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]
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]
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]
Please Note: the 2020 Adirondack Plein Air Festival is going to be modified to avoid gatherings of people in accordance with Covid-19 guidelines. Participating artists will paint on their own at any...