Leading a Trip for the GABC
I 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 departing, a Broad-winged Hawk flashed across the road and then we spotted a second hawk hunting from a wire. We stopped and watched it for a while, eventually moving on with it still fixing its gaze upon the ground below.
Our First Warblers
Other stops picked up American Redstart, Least Flycatcher, Blue-headed Vireo, Blackburnian Warbler, and Black-throated Green Warbler. At the turnoff for Bay Pond we made a planned stop and immediately heard a singing Mourning Warbler after getting out of the cars. Mourning Warblers like the brushy edge and young woods created by the power line cut there and we spread out along the road to find it. But that proved to be a difficult task.
The bird sang frustratingly just out of view and we moved from one window into the woods to another in an effort to track it down. Now and then it would pop out, sing in the open, and folks would catch glimpses of it, but it was several minutes before most everyone had satisfying looks. After listening to a Chestnut-sided Warbler and spotting an Eastern Bluebird and Barn Swallow along the wires, we moved on.
A Cooper's Hawk Nest!
After a successful stop at the bridge over the St. Regis River, we continued on through a white pine forest where I paused to check out an old hawk nest to see if it was in use this year. Hawks often reuse old nests so I’ve always checked this nest each time I’ve past it since discovering it a couple years ago. And on this occasion I spotted the rounded form of a bird’s head on top! I couldn’t see the bird beyond the top of its head so I wasn’t sure what species it was, but I got out telling the folks driving in the cars behind mine about the hawk. It flew off while my back was turned! Everyone who saw it agreed it was a Cooper’s Hawk which would fit the size of the nest. We waited quietly to see if the bird would return, but it never did.
Further along the road we stopped at a wet, boggy area where I always hear singing Northern Waterthrushes. This day was no different as 4 different males sang across the wet and broken landscape. They were either too distant or tucked behind too many downed trees and branches, however, and we weren’t able to see them. But we made up for that by getting amazing views of a Canada Warbler in the same area. Canada’s are one of my favorite warblers.
Hiking from Indian Rock
We finally made it to Indian Rock parking area and began to walk in towards Madawaska Pond on the wide paths. It was fairly quiet by that time in the morning as the sun was climbing above us and warming the day. But the bugs weren’t bad at all and we poked around finding Nashville, Magnolia, Pine, Black-throated Blue, and Black-and-white Warblers as well as Swainson’s Thrush and Red-breasted Nuthatch, among others. Yellow-bellied Flycatchers called from one hidden perch after another, and we eventually got to see a couple of those nearest the trail. We also had a brief appearance by an Olive-sided Flycatcher near the parking area. In another spot we had to choose between finding a calling Boreal Chickadee or looking at a beautiful male Northern Parula which was singing out in the open. Most folks chose the Parula and the chickadee was gone quickly thereafter.
We turned around after adding a few singing Palm Warblers and took our time looking for more of the same species on the way out that we had seen on the way in. But we completed our hike fairly quickly and then set back out on the long drive towards Paul Smith’s. On this trip we didn’t stop much – other than to check out the hawk nest again (it wasn’t there) and to briefly look at a Wild Turkey cross the road. We may have still been keeping our eyes open for any birds along the way, but lunch was calling us rather loudly to be finished with our trip. We had found 17 species of warblers and we had earned it!