August 20, 2014
Common 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 three were diving and feeding. I skirted the shoreline trying to get photos of them in the morning sun and they eventually moved further off as they fed. The lake’s bottom dropped quite quickly from shore as I paddled and the skeletons of trees covered in sediment and algae littered the depths like long spindly shipwrecks. After all, the pond is appropriately named and its clear waters are visible for a long way down. The trees also look like great hiding places for fish and good places to cast a line, but Little Clear Pond is a designated New York State hatchery brood stock water for landlocked salmon, and therefore no fishing is allowed in its waters (or camping on its shoreline).
Not only is that important to the proper management of fish, but it suits me fine since I’m happy not to find hooks and line stuck in trees while paddling or along the sandy beach while swimming. I paddled along, marveling how far into the recesses of the water I could see. The loons continued to call as they fed in the distance, and their wails were soon joined by that of a Belted Kingfisher which chattered as it flew along the shoreline between perches. The loons and kingfisher were evidently exempt from the fishing regulation.
Mountain views and fire towers of the past
We paddled up the northeast shore of the lake, as the sun’s rays warmed the morning air. The summit of St. Regis Mountain and its fire tower looked down on us from the northwest, and we continued north toward where the pond narrows. There I saw more Common Loons – first three adults together and then another pair of loons, this time with two large chicks. Loon nesting on Little Clear Pond was evidently a success this year. With the light at my back the loons were looking splendid, but they did not give me much opportunity to take any photos as they dived continuously.
With the sun warming us all the time, I finally stopped heading north along the lake and began to cut back south along the western shoreline. The loons continued to pop up and down near us, and then again in the distance. It was fun to watch them and I soon found the first pair and their large, dark chick with them as they had made it to the far side of the lake. We paddled around a few small islands and cut the rest of the way into shore as an immature Bald Eagle passed overhead and along the shoreline.
By the time we reached the boat launch people were arriving at the put-in – many of them using Little Clear Pond as an access point to camp in the St. Regis Canoe Area. Wren quickly made friends, and I chatted with a few folks heading out for a few days. After loading the boat back onto my car, Wren and I capped off our time with a swim. It was now reaching mid-day and we needed to get cooled off before heading home for lunch.