The warm autumn weather we’ve been having beckons me to use my canoe, and so Wren and I have been trying to get out whenever we can in order to enjoy the water before the cold settles in for good this fall. Time is often a fleeting commodity, and with light waning with each passing day, it is fortuitous that we have so many great local paddling destinations from which to choose. And so we headed to Jones Pond south of Paul Smiths which can be explored fairly quickly if time is an issue.
Songbirds along the Shoreline
Despite the fact that the pond can be paddled speedily, it also offers hours of exploration if time and inclination allow. And so Wren and I set off in the warm, late afternoon air with purple and blue clouds on the horizon, and a light breeze on the water. Red-breasted Nuthatches, Black-capped Chickadees, and Yellow-rumped Warblers chattered along the shoreline, and a Red Crossbill called as it flew overhead. With our conifers heavily-laden with cones, the past few months have been excellent for both species of crossbill and the fall promises to be good for them as well.
A portion of the shoreline of Jones Pond is dotted with camps and we headed along it, spotting a Common Loon diving in the distance as it fished. I paddled toward it, aiming for the glowing line of tamaracks which guarded the outline of the lake with their yellow spires, and I snapped a few photos of the fall scenery as I did.
We turned counterclockwise to loop the pond, with me still snapping photos and Wren alternating between watching the shoreline and dozing – her usual activities whenever we canoe. But her peaceful repose was broken by a loud fire siren in the distance and the local Blue Jays seemed to take it upon themselves to pass the urgent message along, screaming loudly from the trees. Wren watched them with idle curiosity as if wondering what had them so flustered.
We continued to work around the edge of the pond, listening to the wailing of trucks and fire engines which had answered the call, while the Blue Jays kept yelling about it all. Things had quieted down by the time we reached the marshy end of the pond along the connecting waterway to Osgood Pond. A more subtle warning than the sirens, a beaver slapped its tail and dived at our approach. A beaver lodge stood a short distance away on the edge of the cattails, and we poked around in search of any herons or lingering bitterns, and found heron. We did, however, spook a Ring-necked Duck from one of the nooks in the marsh – it rose quickly into the air and circled above us in search of a new place to hide.
Further along, a Song Sparrow began to sing a broken, fall song – I surmised it to be a young bird just learning. They remind me of adolescents whose voices are cracking and changing, and fall is often characterized by such songs. A singing Red Crossbill was more practiced and fluid in its delivery and perhaps our cone crop will find them nesting again soon. But the crossbill was hidden from our position on the water and I couldn’t spot it, so with light beginning to fade on the warm evening, we reversed out of the marsh and completed our loop back to the take-out. Wren waded into the water and took a long drink while I loaded up the boat onto the car. We set off for home and turkey burgers.