An Evening Paddle on Middle Pond
Crossbills and Boreal Birds
The sound of healing

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 and to chat with some of the folks on the beach with whom she was making friends – she loves making new friends.

An unexpected bird

As we headed to the car, I was surprised by the squeaky call of a Black-backed Woodpecker, and I spotted a female in one of the trees near the parking area. It isn’t exactly a place I’d expect to find one, but there are boreal habitats nearby and I’m sure the bird came from them. After watching it for a while, we moved on – I had plans for an evening paddle.

A tranquil paddle

Our chosen venue for our paddle was Middle Pond along Floodwood Road. Floodwood offers campsites, birding along a gravel forest road, and excellent paddling, and Wren and I pushed off as cool shadows covered portions of the pond as the sun dipped towards to the horizon. Its golden orb made it difficult for me to look west, and I was reminded of the warnings concerning staring at the sun during an eclipse. The same warning applies at any time, and so sunsets can also be a concern for folks enjoying the celestial body.

We poked along the edge of the pond, listening to the soft calls of songbirds like Yellow-rumped and Magnolia Warblers while Red-breasted Nuthatches gave nasal notes from the trees. A Belted Kingfisher added its strident chatter as it flew from perch to perch in search of dinner before night fall. Wren alternated between dozing repose and quietly watching the shoreline and gently lapping waves. It was beautiful.

We paddled along the southern shoreline, trying to avert our eyes from the low sun as I snapped a few photos. I spotted a Common Loon and its fair-sized chick but at the same time I also noticed a small cluster of ducks in the sweet-scented water lilies on the western end of the pond. Taking my binoculars from my bag, I could see that they were Wood Ducks and for a time I moved past the loons and cautiously paddled (so as not to spook them) toward the ducks to get a better look. A Great Blue Heron also prowled the shallow water there – in search of fish, tadpoles, or the green frogs which kept plucking their banjo strings as we went.

Photo courtesy of Master Images.

The ducks slowly moved away at our approach and I gave up on any chance of snapping photos of them, taking a few more of the tranquil scenery, before turning my attention to the adult loon and its chick.

As we approached them, I could hear the young loon making low, raspy, begging calls in search of food from the adult – and it hung on the parent’s shoulder, not taking any chances that it might miss an opportunity for a meal. The loons were much more tolerant of us and our canoe than the Wood Ducks had been, and Wren and I sat quietly as they moved past us before I’d reposition the canoe for another look at them. I took a series of photos of the loons in the low light, although many of them didn’t come out thanks to the shadows.

With that I gave up on the camera and we sat and soaked up the idyllic setting, listening to the quiet of the world around us, and the string section of crickets and other insects in search of a mate. I eventually paddled softly toward the canoe launch – taking the boat out in the deepening gloom and strapping it to the car in the remaining light – before setting off for home.

Late summer and early fall offer amazing paddling and outdoor recreation opportunities across the region. Start planning your trip today by checking out our lodging and dining pages.

Crossbills and Boreal Birds
The sound of healing

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