Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Adventure Up North

     We needed a get away. 6 months in this house every day, on end was starting to get to us. Maternity leave is almost over for me, and Tim could use a break from his work at our dining room table. We are lucky enough to have family who were kind enough to loan us their camp in the Adirondacks for the weekend and allowing us to socially distant see family who also are there visiting for the summer.
     It was a lovely respite from the hot, muggy days we have been having in the city. Going there makes you not want to leave and sometimes makes me wonder why do we live in the city?? Then I remember those college years up north and the never ending, very snowy winters. But the summers there are absolute perfection and even I could be happy just sitting on a deck, with a margarita watching the hummingbirds buzz by -- oh yeah, that happened and it was great.
     Of course we brought the baby, and I am so damn proud of her. The girl loved being outside! We mis-judged some trails for being stroller accessible and either she loved the bumps, or we abandoned the stroller and came back for it later on. She rode on a boat, slept away from home, slept in a much bigger "bed" than usual, she came with us on hikes, she loved the trees, the moon, the birds, all of it. And the kid slept like a champ, we were surprised one day to wake up at 8 am, after going to bed at 10 pm. I can't wait to get her out into more nature and explore it with her.
     In the end the best part of everything was sharing everything with our little girl, seeing our family, and just falling more and more in love with this kid each day. Oh, and yeah -- we saw some wildife, while I didn't see much of the big boreal birds like grouse, Canada Jays, and the like - because our schedules are determined by our own little bird, we still enjoyed what we did see and hear...
Around camp we had birds, butterflies, and according to our aunt, bears. Thankfully we did not encounter a bear. But we heard red-eyed vireos all morning, chickadees moved in each evening along with a brown creeper who I swear was the same bird, every late afternoon on schedule would arrive in nearby trees, we also learned how loud a winter wren is, screaming its little song every morning.

And while I was hoping to get a hummingbird pic, I saw a few and that made me very happy. Instead, here is an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.

On a drive back from hiking the Roosevelt Truck Trail (or what we presumed to be....) we saw a row of figures crossing the road. We slowed, it was a turkey family. I nearly wept.

We went to Ferd's Bog up near Raquette Lake, saw some cool Bog plants, but not so much birds. Down the road a bit was another set of trails leading to shallow lake and two other locations that got us some Cedar Waxwing (this bird), Common Yellowthroat, Belted Kingfisher, Osprey, and a Broad-winged hawk.

My in-laws treated my husband and I to a canoe ride by way of babysitting. Not too many birds but we saw a painted turtle!

We hiked at Fawn Lake on a wet morning. What we thought would be a fine trail for a stroller, it wasn't. We went as far as we could, carried over some rocky/root-y areas. We did not make it to the lake at all. We got to see a few red efts (the larval stage of the Eastern Newt) as some consolation?

In addition to the efts, at Fawn Lake, we heard a loon, were enchanted by the song of a hermit thrush, and found this red squirrel eating pine cones like corn on the cob.

My husband gave me a treat, he stayed home with the kiddo and I went for a walk at the Sacandaga Nature Trail... which of course of all the places we went would have been 100% accessible by stroller. I saw some black-capped chickadees here, Northern Water Thrush, Chestnut-sided Warbler, an Empid I could not ID, and a lot of Pileated activity, but no Pileated.
I did see this wood frog catch a caterpillar (photo by way of my phone through my bins).
Here is what I got at Ferd's Bog... some carnivorous plants... pitcher plants.

Also at Ferd's: A red-backed salamander.

And last at Ferd's Bog, a Ghost Pipe. A plant that looks and acts like a fungus, but it's truly a plant. Ferd's bog is off the beaten path, a short out and back trail. It is an eBird hotspot for the county but alas, I heard a few chickadees, waxwings, and white-throated sparrows.

The real treat came on our last day. We all got on a boat for an afternoon swim but first took a tour around Lake Pleasant. These common mergansers were perfect!
All look to be female, but they were in a group together which also makes me think could they possibly be a female with her now grown chicks? I can't say I know what an immature COME looks like.

So sweet!

Seeing them this way made me think it was a hen with her now grown offspring.

Speaking of chicks...

A young common loon!!!! How fortunate are we to see such a sweet (not-so-little) thing?!
It's belly feathers are no longer the soft fuzzy baby down but looking more like adult loon feathers.

Here is mama Loon.

The chick followed everything its parent did. Learning it's loony ways.

If mom dove, baby dove. If mom popped her head underwater to scope things out, so did baby.

At one point, the chick was underwater for a long while mom came up and peered around. And seemingly got impatient or worried and even vocalized. After doing so, her baby popped up behind her and they continued their foraging.

Loons are an icon of summer in the Adirondack region. They frequent many of the lakes, you can hear their haunting call, and if you are lucky to see one in their summer plumage, you just can;t take your eyes off of them.

Not only are they swimmers, they can fly! You can see how much wing they have! These birds will fly south in the winter to bodies of water where we live, in NYC, Long Island, and along our coasts here.

The chick is nearly as big as its parent!

Just like human babies, they need to move and get muscles ready in their bodies. I put my baby on her belly to help her strengthen her neck. This little loon stretched and flapped its wings quite often. Come fall it has a trip to make!
So happy to have seen these two!

Mom stretching her wing.

We also saw two additional adult loons near shore where the bat was kept.

These birds are perfect divers and adept at capturing fish with the pointy, dagger-like bill.

A great way to end our long weekend away from home!

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