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Sparrows Along Lake Colby
Going to Church
A Fall Hike Up Baker Mountain

            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. 

           

           

Author:Alan Belford
Going to Church
A Fall Hike Up Baker Mountain

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