September 18, 2014
Enjoying summer to the end
The 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 it, and then I grabbed my mask and snorkel and dipped into the water myself. Wren sat playing with her ball in the sand.
I snorkeled through the clear, green waters of the aptly named pond, following logs and branches which may have hidden a fish or a turtle. Rather than find a turtle, I noticed a few old beer and soda cans hiding in the logs and I dived to pick them up. I had actually been doing the same thing in Lake Colby in Saranac Lake the previous day. I scooped up the first can and returned to the surface, blowing out the water from my snorkel. Suddenly two crayfish came shooting out of the can! They were evidently using it for shelter and I had unwittingly ruined their dreams of homeownership. I tried to empty each subsequent can carefully in case there were more squatters within them and I made a small pile on shore which included an old ketchup bottle. All are now in my recycling bin.
After snorkeling for about a half hour or so I began swapping my snorkeling gear for my paddles, and I grabbed a plastic bag from the car to collect the cans. I quickly discovered there were not one, but two, more crayfish hunkered down in two of the cans! So I held the cans in the water, hoping they would choose to leave – I had nothing with me to cut the cans open. The first crayfish left its can quickly – my disturbance of it must have convinced it that its neighborhood in aquatic suburbia was falling into disrepair. The other, however, stubbornly remained and I had to wait it out, trapping the can down with a stick so the crayfish could leave while I finished getting the canoe ready. But the wind and waves tipped the can up and the crayfish remained stuck inside. So I stood holding the can down in the water and waited. Finally the crayfish came to the opening – unsure if it should venture forth. It had a bit of a squeeze to get out of the hole, but it eventually managed it and shot across the open sand for fear of being exposed. Wren and I hopped into the canoe and set off.
Little Green Pond is a peaceful paddle and can make an easy short trip if that’s the goal. We looped the shoreline as I usually do and Wren took up her usual post alternating between watching the shore and dozing in the sun. A few Ring-billed Gulls flew overhead, and a pair of Common Loons sat in the middle of the lake, their wailing calls drifting on the breeze towards us.
A bit of birding and other wildlife
As we skirted the far shore we spooked up the pair of Hooded Mergansers I had seen earlier, and they flew around and behind us to land again. Further along, the northeast portion of the lake creates a small corner and as we poked our bow into it to explore, three more Hooded Mergansers – this year’s chicks – came out and flew across the lake. Passing a beaver lodge - I’ve also seen North American River Otters on the ice on Little Green Pond during the winter - we turned to complete our loop. As we neared the put-in, a small gaggle of young Common Mergansers proceeded to dive and feed in the shallows along the shoreline. If crayfish could hate, they were probably cursing me and my home-wrecking habits under their breath for exposing them, and I wondered if they had all found a safe hiding place from the mergansers.
I waited for the mergansers to move along and we paddled to shore. Wren played and swam again while I loaded the gear and we headed home for dinner as the sun dipped to kiss the horizon. I stopped twice on the way home – the first to watch two Beavers swimming in Lake Clear Outlet. And then as I reached the open sky and saw the enormous full moon rising over the mountains, I had no choice but to stop again. Dinner was late that night.