Many animals migrate to warmer locales in the winter. Many leave behind northern states for southern ones. Do any animals winter in New York? Yes! One such animal is the short-eared owl. For these birds who come down from northern Canada or Alaska, New York is a warmer change of scenery.
I found 4-5 of these owls in a grassy fields surrounded by farmland. Short-eared owls prefer grasslands, fields, tundra, and marshes.
Short-eared owls nest on the ground. That makes them susceptible to predators such as coyotes, foxes, cats, and dogs. I heard someone talking at this location an they said a dead owl was found. They mentioned possibly a coyote got it.
I found them active in the afternoon. They may hunt in the daylight to coincide with vole activity. They prefer voles, but also eat mice, rats, small birds, and insects.
Short-eared owls arrive in New York around December and leave to return around March. Some areas of northern NY near the Canadian border have them residing there year round.
I just have a good amateur camera and lens and these birds were quite a distance away. Most images are cropped a lot. The big lens that people near me used made me envious. Hopefully, on another trip I may witness them closer with brighter skies. Regardless, they were fun to watch.
Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go. Author Unknown
The pictures below were all taken recently in the Hudson Valley of New York. Some animals stay here the entire year. Others come from regions further north to winter here. Hopefully, I will catch some of these winter visitors soon.
Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge
The next photos are from a short trip I took a wildlife refuge. I hope to return there this weekend weather permitting.
Fall unofficially ended today with a major snowstorm. We could get over a foot by the time it passes through. Did the animals know a storm would be arriving soon? Do animals sense these things? Can they forecast weather?
The Adirondack Mountains in New York has a lot of places to paddle where you do not have to get out of the water to go from one pond of lake to another. Others lakes or ponds may have cary paths between them. Fish Creek Ponds is another body of water you can access multiple bodies of water through without getting out of your canoe or kayak.
I actually launched from Follensby Clear Pond. The launch is near the Spider Creek Passage into Fish Creek Ponds. I launched from there to get two chances to see the loon baby and its mom. Going through Fish Creek Ponds after you go under the Route 30 bridge you see Fish Creek Ponds Campgrounds along the pond. These are paid sites. I could see a playground, beach, and fishing area.
From there you can access Square Pond . I went in this body of water a short distance then turned and went towards Fish Creek.
Fish Creek is a fairly wide creek in most areas. It is like a highway for canoeists and kayakers. Along the way you pass a dock to the canoe carry heading towards Follensby Clear Pond. The dock was too short for my 10 foot kayak to park at and the water next to the dock was too deep for me to step into. It was really more for canoes. This would be another way to get to Follensby Clear Pond avoiding a long paddle through Fish Creek Ponds, Spider Creek Passage and into Follensby Clear Pond.
Next up was Copperas Pond. There are two primitive campsites on this body of water. They are across then pond from each other. Each has an open outhouse or privy. Behind the campsite I tied up at you also got a view of a another pond that had no outlet connecting it to other bodies of water.
Passage from Fish Creek into Floodwood Pond
Next I started paddling towards a Fish Creek passage that connects to Floodwood Pond and eventually Rollins Pond. Little Square Pond is beyond the entrance to this passage. It is unnamed on maps, but it may still be considered Fish Creek. At the entrance there was another primitive campsite. Floodwood Pond has several primitive campsites along it.
I turned back before Floodwood as I had already paddled quite a ways from Follensby Clear Pond. I will save Floodwood and Rollins for another trip.
I did see loons along the way. These ponds and creeks had more boat traffic due to the campgrounds on Fish Creek Ponds and Rollins Pond. Most of Fish Creek was not for power boats. Way back on Fish Creek beyond Copperas Pond I saw a loon who was quite busy fishing. I also saw a loon near the campgrounds at Fish Creek Ponds and a mother loon and her baby on the other side of Fish Creek Ponds near the private houses closer to Follensby Clear Pond.
In the summer there is more traffic on these bodies of water than others. It is due to two large campgrounds on Rollins Pond and Fish Creek Ponds. Both of those campgrounds allow caravans/campers. Despite that fact, it is still a nice place to paddle. I want to return to kayak from Rollins Pond to Floodwood Pond.
Do you want an option to paddle multiple bodies of water without getting out of your kayak or canoe? Do you want a place to camp while paddling? Jones Pond and Osgood Pond in the Adirondack Mountains of NY are accessible to each other via the Jones Pond Outlet. Both have free campsites on or near the ponds.
I started at Jones Pond on this September Day. There are campsites along Jones Pond next to the road and off the road accessible by car. Jones Pond also has a boat launch that makes it easy to get in a kayak via water. Jones Pond is also accessible to Rainbow Lake via a carry path.
Other bodies of water are accessible via Osgood Pond. I will not put photos of Osgood here as I have a post from another trip detailing Osgood and the passage to another Pond.
On my return and eagle was circling over my head at Jones Pond. That pesky beaver had a lodge in the grass area near where the pond meets the outlet. The weather was nice, but windy so I got my exercise for the day.
I highly recommend this trip especially if you want to camp along or near one of these bodies of water. Bring a lunch and plenty to drink. It involves a couple hours each way, but it is worth the ride.
Do you want a great spot to paddle in the Catskills? Fancy a nice spot to see wildlife along the way? One such place is Franklinton Vlaie. It is part of a wildlife management area south of Middleburgh, NY.
Vlaie or Vly is the Dutch term for swamp. This pond has marshy areas, woodlands, and farmland around it. It is viewable from State Route 145. This is a few miles south of Middleburgh. The pond appears on maps to be over a mile long in length. The pond covers 85 acres while the Franklinton Vlaie Wildlife Management Area that it is in covers 195 acres.
There is a small parking area off of 145 on Gates Hill Road near the boat launch. Kayaks and canoes are allowed. Motorboats are not. They have a dock to launch a canoe from and an area closer to the road near it to launch a kayak from in shallow water. There is no camping on this pond.
I went because I heard an eagle can be sighted there. I did not see one, however it is documented on their site that there is a nest. I looked for a nest, but did not see one. Perhaps I will get the chance to return in late fall or early spring when the leaves are down to see if I can spot the nest. However, I did see my first kingfisher. I followed it as it flew from tree to tree along the water.
When I was there I saw a few other kayakers and canoers. People were fishing. Motorboats are not allowed, so it is a nice place to paddle. If you like a fairly traffic free place to paddle, this should be on your list.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Loon Fishing Technique
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.
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.
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.
Fish Creek Ponds
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.