Baby Loon Tries to Fly

What is a nice body of water to kayak or canoe one and see loons? I have been to Fish Creek Pond a few times in the Adirondack Mountains of NY. Each time I have seen mother and her baby. I have never seen the father.

This is an August photo.

The first time I spotted these two in August the mother was still bringing a lot of fish to the baby although the baby was trying to go under water in pursuit of fish itself. This baby appeared to be older and larger than the other loon babies I saw on other lakes and ponds.

In September, the mother was not bringing much fish to the baby. I only witnessed one. It was leaving the baby mostly to its own devices. The baby was fishing a lot.

Flying Practice

Then, I heard the mother call from the other side of the pond, and the baby stopped fishing and swam further down the pond, turned and faced the wind and tried to fly. (I was thinking the mother said the wind is good, stop and practice flying. ) The baby went back down the pond and tried again and again. It was flapping its wings attempting to walk on the water at the same time. It came close to going totally airborne.

After going further down the pond it raised itself up and started flapping its wings attempting to fly.
You can see here it is running on top of the water while flapping its wings.
I wasn’t totally pleased with these actions shots, but with the wind and water movement sitting in a kayak I am just happy to have observed and captured this.
Almost up!
I have a growing audience. I guess I will try again. Wish me luck!

Then it went back to fishing. It complained weakly. Not sure if the baby was discouraged by its flying attempts. The mother came by and brought the baby a fish. Either it was a reward for the flying attempts, encouragement, or the baby still needed a little help getting food.

Pretty soon the adult loons fly off and leave the babies behind. It’s important they fish for themselves. They will practice many times swimming to the far end of a pond, facing the wind, and attempting to fly. Eventually they do. Because they are such big birds they need a lot of space for their take off. They will join other loons further south after they figure it all out.

Fish Creek Ponds Loons

Fish Creek Ponds is in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State. It is near Upper Saranac Lake. These photos were taken from a kayak during a trip in August.

I saw the loons in the morning and afternoon of the same day on the same section of the pond. I only saw one parent and one child. The baby was always swimming close to the mother in August.
Looks both ways for boaters before crossing the pond.
Loon Fishing Technique
Dive under the water, pursue and catch a small fish.
Shake the small fish around in the water to attract a bigger fish……
and voila! You get a bigger fish.
This mother was still feeding the baby in August. The baby was attempting to find fish on its own as well.
The hand off.
The other babies I saw in July and August were smaller and had brownish colored feathers.

The baby loon was always close to the mother in August. I did not see a second parent around. I may post pictures from September another time. Loons are interesting birds to watch. Just remember keep a distance.

Fish Creek Ponds- 3 in One

Want to paddle on three different lakes or ponds in one day? Would you like to do this without getting out of your kayak or canoe? There are a few options to do this in the Adirondack Mountains of New York.

Three bodies of water you could paddle in one trip are Follensby Clear Pond, Fish Creek Pond, and Upper Saranac Lake. One way you can accomplish this is to start at Follensby Clear Pond on the south side. There is a parking lot and boat launch there. The boat launch on the northern end of Follensby is further away and would lengthen your trip. Another option is you could start at the boat launch on Fish Creek Ponds.

You paddle under this bridge near the boat launch if starting from Follensby Clear Pond. I ducked my head the whole time. It is kind of low. Be careful going under it.
Spider Creek Passage

From there you can paddle north a short distance to the Spider Creek passage. It is not far from the boat launch and starts by going under the State Route 30. You follow Spider Creek Passageway into Fish Creek Ponds. Spider Creek Passageway is about 1.5 foot deep. In some areas it may be deeper than that. What you will see in the passageway are spots where beavers tried to dam the creek. I also saw ducks hiding behind the downed trees.

The Spider Creek Passage is wide enough for kayaks or canoes coming from either direction to have no issues. This one is like a roadway for paddlers.
Fish Creek Ponds
This end of Fish Creek Ponds is closest to Follensby Clear Pond appears to have private houses along it. The other end has campgrounds.

Fish Creek Ponds is a large pond with a boat launch and campgrounds along it. In the area I paddled near to get into Fish Creek Bay there appeared to be private houses along it. So if you wanted to camp you have the option of booking a stay at the Fish Creek Ponds Campground or try your luck at the free campsites along Follensby Clear Pond. Those are first come first served.

Upper Saranac Lake
This is the passageway from Fish Creek Ponds into Fish Creek Bay. It is wide and power boats park along it.
Fish Creek Bay looking into Upper Saranac Lake.

Once in Fish Creek Ponds you stay on the left side of the pond and look for a wider passageway, more like a larger creek. This takes you into Fish Creek Bay of Upper Saranac Lake. I paddled around Whitney Point.

Boat House along the way. I love seeing the different architecture. This is not the main residence.
The roof on this one looks Asian inspired.
Kayaking around Whitney Point.
Another paddler on Upper Saranac Lake
Wildlife
I may make a post just about these loons.

There is some wildlife to see along the way. In Fish Creek Pond I saw a merganser ducks. I also saw a loon mother with an older baby. It was much larger than the other babies I saw in other lakes and ponds. The mother was still bringing it fish. I also saw a loon pair in Fish Creek Bay of Upper Saranac Lake.

Be Cautious Be Prepared

Upper Saranac is a much larger lake so you need to be cautious when paddling. Wind can greatly make your trip more difficult. Also people in the summer go out even early in the morning to water ski and you need to be careful around boaters. They do not always pay attention to you. I also recommend bringing a map whenever you do a paddle like this one. Adirondack Paddler’s Map North covers this region. It is waterproof. I have gotten it wet plenty of times and it is still good. It is published by Paddlesports Press in Saranac Lake. You can buy it at most stores that sell kayaks or canoes in NY. I was able to get one in the Hudson Valley. Many local bookstores in the Adirondacks carry it as well.

On the return I spent more time in Follensby Clear Pond before I took my kayak out of the water. It was a brilliant day with not much wind, so paddling on each body of water was divine.

After coming back under the bridge. Now to paddle around Follensby Clear Pond a bit.

This was a great paddling trip, that I highly recommend. Going through the Spider Creek Passageway was fun and it is always a joy to see loons along the way.

Osgood Pond

What makes a pond a pond? What makes a lake a lake? It is not always size in terms of acreage it covers. There are some ponds that are larger in size than lakes. Lakes are usually much deeper. Ponds they say are shallow enough to allow light to reach the bottom. One pond that seems larger than some lakes is Osgood Pond.

Osgood Pond is near Pauls Smith’s in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. You can access Osgood Pond by car by White Pine Road off of State Route 86. It has a boat launch maintained by the state. I visited there on two separate days. During the summer a recent university graduate was employed to check boats going in and out of the pond. The state tries to make sure invasive species are not carried from one body of water to another. I liked this boat launch. It was a gradual decline in to the pond.

There are not many houses on this pond. There is one on this island. Much of the land around the pond is designated wilderness.

One advantage of this pond is you can access other bodies or water without getting out of your canoe/ kayak. Some lakes and ponds have carries between them. This one has some passageways or outlets between it and other ponds and rivers.

This passageway is about 1.5 -2 feet deep between the ponds.
Passageway between Osgood and Church Ponds
Church Pond
Passageway from Church to Osgood Pond. It is very dark through the passageway. I rather enjoy taking these little outlets in between ponds and lakes.

Another advantage is there are some campsites accessible paddling from Osgood. There are primitive campsites along nearby Jones pond, accessible by paddling through Jones Pond outlet. There are lean-tos on Osgood and Church Pond. There are also primitive campsites on Upper Osgood River. These campsites are free and first come first served.

Thirdly, and most importantly to me, this pond has great access to viewing wildlife. There are ducks, multiple loon pairs, and eagles coming and going. There must be fish worth trying for. I did see a few fishermen.

One of two juveniles. The eagles go between lakes to find food.
So hungry I will eat a pine cone. These juvenile eagles (born in Spring) are at least a month or more behind the ones born along the Hudson River. I think they are born 1-2 months later. They flew but had trouble landing and in August did not fly much over water. They made no attempt to get food on their own, and the parents appeared to delay getting food for them.
After one fish was dropped off the kids fought over it and the parents flew back to the nest to break it up.

Loon behaviour on this pond was odd. I did not see them stick their heads above water for long and they did not hang out long on the surface at any time. I watched them the first day. The second day I saw the eagles. I attribute the loons’ behaviour to the eagle’s presence. Eagles will go after ducks and loons and their young. I did not see young loons on this pond. A local told me the eagles have been visiting for three years and they have not seen loon young in three years. They tie the two events together.

Overall it is a great place to kayak. I enjoyed it so much I went back again the following day. If you wish to canoe or kayak a few different bodies of water without carrying your boat, I recommend this pond. If you want a spot to camp for free arriving by boat, the lack of traffic at this location may make it ideal.

Follensby Clear Pond

Looking for a nice spot to canoe or kayak for a few hours in the Adirondacks? Looking for a place that offers free camping? Follensy Clear Pond may fit the bill.

Follensby Clear Pond is actually pretty large in size. Its larger than some lakes in the area. It is said to cover 491.3 acres.

Access
People who arrived at campsites tied up at the dock to load their canoes. They made trips back and forth setting up their camp. What you see in front of the dock is an island. The lake extends a ways off the right side of this photo.

Follensby Clear Pond has two launch points. One is on the south side of the pond off State Route 30. The other is on the north side of the pond off the same road. I used the parking lot and launch on the south side of the pond. They have two launch sites there. One is with a dock and the other is a rough path with roots sticking up close by. The same path takes you to both. The water is shallow at both points. I prefer standing in the water and getting in. Just be careful bringing your boat to the launch site. Small motor boats appear to be allowed on this pond.

Camping
Marker on a tree pointing out campsite access locations.

There are several campsites around the pond. They appear to be accessible via boat. There are markers on trees where you would access these sites. They are primitive campsites and everything is carry in carry out. It is first come first served, no reservations. Most campsites have outhouses and all have stone rock fire rings. Ladies from a local canoeing group told me there are usually at least one or two available. It appears to be accessible to more, they ask you stay for no more than three days. To say 4 days or longer you need to contact a ranger and get a permit. I am not sure how many campsites there are. I see at one point they were discussing closing some of the sites and there was opposition to that.

Wildlife

This pond has a variety of wildlife. I saw one loon pair. I also saw an eagle that was probably about 3-4 years old without white head feathers. Since there are several lakes and ponds in the near vicinity I don’t think he stays there long. There are ducks, and in July I saw many ducklings.

He was hard to get from the kayak. He was high up in a tree next to the pond. It was windy and the boat was rocking a lot. Eagle maybe 3-4 years old? Not an adult yet.
Exercising their wings- or drying them off?
Loon pair-This one had a battle scar. A fight with a turtle or other animal perhaps?
Loons near the boat launch. The island is in back of them. The loons came into the area of the boat launch area, which was calmer than the pond itself. When watching loons keep a distance. I have a powerful zoom lens.

I kayaked two different bodies of water that day. It was very windy and a little hard to paddle in the middle of the pond. I saw other kayakers and canoeists after I arrived. A canoeing group seems to favor this pond for their outings. It is also a pond that you can access more than one body of water through. I saw a group of kayakers come under State Route 30 through Spider Creek Passage from Fish Creek Ponds. Through Fish Creek Ponds you can access Upper Saranac Lake.

Windy or not it was a great body of water to paddle on. I hope to go back to this location in the near future. Whether you are camping or not it is a great pond to spend a few hours at.

Upper St. Regis Lake Loons

If you want to hit more than one lake in the Adirondacks while canoeing or kayaking, where could you go? Upper St. Regis Lake may be an answer as it connects to Spitfire Lake and from Spitfire Lake you can get to Lower St. Regis Lake.

Access

Upper St. Regis Lake has a boat launch off St. Regis Carry (Road) which is off of State Route 30. You can park along the side of the road leading to the boat launch. The boat launch is for power boaters as well, so it is a nice gradual ease into the lake. This location also has a free do it yourself boat wash. This is important to make sure you do not transport invasive species between lakes. You can launch and park for free.

Bird I saw on a rock not long into my early morning paddle. Sandpiper perhaps?

I got there early in the morning and only stayed for about 2 hours. I hope to go again. I was trying to squeeze in another nearby lake before a predicted storm.

Loons

I came across the first loon when paddling between two islands. I believe it was the father loon. As I started moving away I heard a loon calling from the other side of the lake. I went in that direction and found a mother loon and her baby. They stayed in an area that was between an island and a marshy area. The mother called again and the father came by.

Baby loon waiting patiently for parents to surface with a fish.

The difference between these loon parents and the ones I saw at Upper Saran Lake was this pair tried to feed the baby by putting the fish in the water near it. The ones in Saranac Lake handed off the fish above water.

Mom approaches with fish.

Mom brings fish underwater to baby. Baby either has to grab the fish from mom under the water or has to grab fish from the water.

What was humorous to me was the father would come up out of the water making a loud complaining like noise when he did not surface with a fish. He did not do that when he did have a fish. These parents seemed less successful catching fish than the ones at Upper Saranac, who were constantly coming up with them.

Sticking close to mom.

The light was not optimal. It was early morning on a cloudy day. However, once again I was happy to watch this family from a distance.

Upper Saranac Lake Loons

Do you like viewing wildlife while you kayak or canoe? Would you like to see loons or ducks? There are many lakes and ponds in the northern Adirondacks where you can see wildlife. One such lake is Upper Saranac Lake.

How to access

The lake is near the towns of Tupper Lake, Saranac Lake and Lake Placid. Upper Saranac Lake can be accessed on the north end off State Route 30 via a parking lot and boat launch. Parking and launching at this site is free. The boat launch is one of the better ones I have experienced in the Adirondacks. It is paved, so if you have a motor boat it is ideal. It was also easier for me to use it to get into my kayak. I prefer boat launches to dock entries. They also have a free boat wash to clean off your kayak. This helps reduce the chance of carrying invasive species between lakes.

Merganser Ducks
I only saw this duck and its baby for a short while. I did not get many pictures of it. I believe this may be a female merganser duck.

The day I went it was supposed to rain and storm. I went to another lake in early morning and went to this lake later in the morning for a few hours. It did rain a few times slightly while a paddled. The first wildlife I encountered were what appeared to be Merganser ducks. I am thinking a female and a baby.

Loons
You almost wonder if while they were paused on the lake the mother was warning the babies of the dangers of boats.

I paddled across the lake and around some islands. I heard a loon call a few times from the other side of the lake. The weather was looking iffy so I decided to head back. While heading back towards the boat launch I ran into a loon family with two babies. I kept my distance and they were fine with me being around.

Whose turn is it?

I got to watch the parent loons take turns going under the water to find fish for their two babies. The babies popped their heads under water to look and at times disappeared in pursuit of something. Since the parents were bringing up a lot of fish I think the babies are not so successful at it yet. These parents were handing off fish to the babies above water.

The hand off

The weather was not ideal for photos , but I am happy I was able to witness a loon family with two babies. I am also happy I got to witness them feeding them . Sometimes kayaking or canoeing is not just about the physical benefits you get from it, it is about what you see along the way.

Owl Babies Hunt

The babies from different local parks and wildlife areas are starting to hunt. I try to catch local youngsters at least a few times a week. The parents are less visible now. They are leaving them more and more on their own. Soon they may be off to find their own territory.

The owl babies are looking more and more like adults. I saw one hunting, while the others were on nearby trees.
Communicating with its siblings nearby. The only sound I have heard them make is a screech like sound.
I think they are so cute. As long as you are quiet and respect them from a distance they will tolerate you being around.
It moved around from downed tree to tree searching for wildlife along the stream.
Pausing to look at me. This one was on this downed tree scanning the stream bed for dinner in the deep, dark woods. It caught a few things, but I could not get a good look. The stream bed is a foot or more below the ground level with plants obscuring its view and the owlet went right down to that level. What did it catch? I could not tell, but it was eating something more than once. A frog perhaps? A chipmunk looking for a drink?

I will enjoy these youngsters while I can. Who knows, maybe in other nearby parks in the coming years these owlets with raise their own families. One can only hope.

#BarredOwls #Owls #Owlets #BarredOwlets #OwletsHunting #BarredOwletsHunting #OwlsInNewYork #HudsonValleyOwls

Clayton Murals

Do you need a vacation location this summer? Are you planning on trips closer to home? If you live in the Northeast one option is a visit to the Thousand Islands area of New York. One beautiful town right on the St. Lawrence River is Clayton, NY.

Besides a really nice walkway along the river in town, this town has some interesting murals to view. Below are the ones I found.

A modern ship mural by Kelly Curry.
Back in the day the railroads brought many tourists up to Clayton. This was a long mural close to another building so I had to take photos in sections. Mural by Kelly Curry.
Picture two- Kelly Curry Mural
Picture 3 Kelly Curry Mural

The back of the same building.
Another modern ship by Kelly Curry

By the end of June, Clayton was in phase four ahead of areas in New York City, the Hudson Valley , and Long Island in opening up. Museums were about to open in the area in June. Most places are open for business including boat tours.

If you visit the Thousand Islands or plan to take a tour or fishing boat out of Clayton, wander around the town. They have wonderful shops, nice restaurants, a walkway on the river, and beautiful murals depicted the area.

#ClaytonNewYork #streetart #murals #ThousandIslands #NewYork

Osprey

If you build it they will come. That is certainly the case with platforms and osprey. Ospreys are another bird of prey you can find in New York. I saw a few on a trip in June to the Thousand Islands and Lake Ontario region near the Thousand Islands. In every case I found them on a platform that they built a nest on.

Nests

In that part of New York in different places platforms have been placed on top of telephone poles by people. Soon after Osprey have come by and build nests on them. Other places they may nest include channel markers and dead trees over water.

A nest on one of the Thousand Islands
I could not tell if any of these nests had eggs or chicks, but since there was always one parent on the nest, or going for a short fly nearby, I would think there may have been at least eggs.
Mate hanging out below.
Habitat

Osprey will live around a variety of water locations: rivers, ponds, salt marshes, lakes, etc. I have seen a few on the Hudson River, including one on a channel maker where a creek meets the Hudson. The ones in this post were on Lake Ontario or on one of the Thousand Islands in the St. Lawrence River.

Heading to a nest near Lake Ontario with a fish
This Osprey seemed to be so proud of his fish. He kept taking it out of the nest to fly around with it in circles only to return to the nest again. It was not ideal lighting conditions as it looked kind of dreary on and off, but still find to watch them.
Fishing

Osprey eat mainly fish and they are known as being excellent at fishing. Osprey circle high above shallow water before diving feet first to catch a fish. It takes an average of 12 minutes for an Osprey to catch a fish.

If you you visit the Thousand Islands or Lake Ontario region, look for their nests on top of telephone pole platforms or channel markers. They are interesting birds to watch.