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.

Loons

The sound I associate with hanging out on a lake or pond in the evening in the Adirondacks is the loon. The sounds they make to me are peaceful. I was lucky enough to see loons on two Adirondack lakes in June.

I took this picture from a tour boat during a rain storm.
Location

Where do you find loons? They prefer wooded lakes and ponds with large populations of small fish. They prefer lakes with islands and coves for protection. Both lakes I found them on I would not have spotted them from shore. During the day I found them fishing in the middle of the lakes. One one lake I kayaked around for almost an hour before I caught sight of a pair. On the other lake I was on a tour boat when we spotted one. The Great Lakes region has between 5,000- 7,200 pairs while New England and New York have around 2,250 pairs. Well known for having loons are the New York Adirondacks, Maine, and Minnesota, although other states also have them.

Great Fishermen

Loons are expert at fishing. They can dive as deep as 60 m or 200 feet. They normally dive 4 to 10 meters (13- 33 feet). They swallow their prey underwater. They have powerful back legs that propel them in fast chases underwater.

Loon with one of its powerful back legs in the air. Loons have webbed feet.
Nests

Loons breed in spring and summer. Their nests are shorelines. I heard one loon calling as it got dark from what appeared to be the property of a wealthy person. I respect property and would not trespass. I did kayak by the property on another day, but could not get a good view from the lake to see if there was indeed a nest there.

Sounds

To hear a loon click on the following link. The site is from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ENNzjy8QjU

Here are some other sounds loons make from Birds Inc: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2PVTZwap-Q

If you are lucky enough to camp or stay right on a lake in the Adirondacks that has loons, you may be lucky enough to hear them right after the sun goes down. They are an iconic sound of the Adirondacks.

Adirondack Boathouses

Boathouses are a covered structure with direct access to body of water. Some say it is only for the storage of boats and boating equipment. They also regulate them in some areas of the Adirondacks. In those areas they can not have bathrooms, beds, a kitchen or heating. In other places they have all of those things. Lake Placid tends to have more of the latter in this description.

This is known as a his and hers boathouse. Each boathouse appears to also have family living quarters.

The original style of the houses and boathouses was labeled Adirondack. It was used in the great camps, some of which were built during the Gilded Age for the rich. Adirondack style is known for using local materials such as birch and cedar logs that were whole, split, or peeled logs. Using bark was common as well as granite fieldstone. The inside of these houses or boathouses they would use rustic furniture. Some of these boathouses pictured are quite old while others may be a modern take on the boathouses of old.

Modern take on the traditional.

There are two main lakes near the village of Lake Placid. The one most people see on the main business thoroughfare in the village of Lake Placid is actually Mirror Lake. Mirror Lake is about a mile long and covers about 128 acres. There are homes and businesses around the lake. Lake Placid, however, is on the north side of the village. Lake Placid covers about 2,170 acres.

This one fits the one description of a boathouse- one story, no heating, plumbing, or electric.

Most of the shoreline around the Lake Placid is undeveloped. However, there are some pretty specular homes and boathouses on some parts of the lake. Most of the homes are well over a million dollars. CEOs of companies own these as vacation homes, as well as musicians, and other famous people. In other words, the top 1 percent vacation in these homes. Some homes are only accessible via boat.

This appears to be more than a boathouse. There are some very expensive boathouses for rent on this lake having what you would normally find in a house.

I took an hour long pontoon boat tour with Lake Placid Marina and Boat tours to see the lake. If vacationing in the area this is a nice boat trip. The captain, Captain Cook, is very knowledgeable about the history of the houses and their inhabitants. Yes, I went in June 2020. This boat tour is operating. As of the end of June, the Adirondack region is in stage 4 of opening up.

If visiting the Lake Placid area consider going on this boat tour. Not only do you learn some of the history of the lake, but also experience some really scenic mountain and lake views.

For more information about the boat tour use this link: https://www.lakeplacidmarina.com

We were told this family had a girl who watched Lion King every night. It was the only video they had.
Asian style pagoda boathouse
I believe the boat captain said this lake has the largest collection of wooden boats on a lake.

The Adirondacks and Thousand Islands are Open

Have you had your vacation plans cancelled for the summer? Are you looking for some place to vacation while social distancing? If you live in New York or other nearby states upstate New York may be the answer.

The northern most part of New York includes the Adirondack Mountains and the Thousand Islands. The hotels and campgrounds in these regions are open. Popular activities in these regions include hiking, fishing, and boating. These are great activities that are easy to socially distance.

There are some things you need to be aware of before you leave. You must bring a mask to wear. Most businesses have signs up on the doors stating do not enter unless you have mask. If you are sick do not go. Hotels have signs on their door stating if you are coughing or sneezing, or generally feel sick, do not enter. Be prepared to pay by credit card or cashless. Not all places in these times will accept cash. Not all hotel restaurants were open in June. Some places offered bagged breakfast. Some food businesses, even though this region by the end of June was in stage 4 or opening up, still do not let anyone within the building.

What is available during your stay? Expect to not have cleaning service while you are there. This seems to be a statewide mandate. In some places outdoor pools are open. I did not see any indoor pools open in June. As of June museums are not open. Some stores are not open and they have help wanted signs up. Evidently they are having a hard time bringing back laid off workers. It is said they are making more on unemployment during this crisis. Many places have hand sanitizer to use before you enter. Kayaks, canoes, paddle boards, and paddle boats are available to rent.

Sunset on the St. Lawrence River looking towards the Canadian side.

Enjoy a hike! Enjoy time on a lake or river. It is possible to have a vacation and socially distance. Getting back to nature can be fun!

How to Find an Owl in the Woods

How do you find an owl in the wild? Actually in my case the owl found me. I was hiking through the woods, which I have been doing a lot of lately on a lot of different trails, when an owl flew right over my shoulder coming from behind me. I have repeated found owls since so I will give you some of my tips.

The owl flying over my shoulder peaked my interest so I kept looking in the areas I hike. Look for an old growth forest with lots of older, thick trunked trees. If they have holes in them, this may be a forest to find some owls. Sometimes they take over nests of hawks, but others times they may nest in a tree hole.

Sometimes I have caught them by seeing movement through the woods. It was a parent hunting. They may fly from a tree to the ground, or from a tree to another tree. The breakfast of champions for owlets seems to be chipmunks. It may be because there are so many of them, or the fact they at times make a lot of noise thereby identifying themselves.

Most of the time barred owls I found do not make the typical “Who cooks for you?” call that is ascribed to them. I have heard a lot of other calls and sounds I have not heard on recordings. If you find them listen to the noise they make and try to remember it as it may help you locate them the next time.

Baby after fledging the nest.

A babies make a weak screech sound when hungry and calling for food. They may do this in early morning or early evening. If you find babies, commit the sound to memory. It will help you locate them in the future.

This appears to be an owlet as well.

If you are quiet and aware you have a better chance of finding them. You will have more luck if you do not bring a dog with you. You will have more luck if you go by yourself or have a friend who agrees to be quiet while searching. Don’t have your phone sounds on. If you are preoccupied you may not hear them. If your sounds are on they may stay quiet. You have to be aware of your surroundings and listen to the sounds of the woods.

Two siblings just hanging out. The third one is an outlier. He is always nearby, but usually hiding behind branches.

Sometimes other birds announce the parent owl’s whereabouts. I have seen bluejays going crazy loudly complaining and followed the sounds to find the parent owl. Sometimes that has led me to the owlets. I have not seen them harass the owlets in this manner, just the parents.

Sibling love

After the owlets fledge, the parents and owlets move around to different areas each day I have found. Expand the region you search in around the nest to locate them.

Close to feeding time at least one of the parents would be nearby.

Parents would sometimes be nearby after they fledged, other times not. If you hear a hoot, check it out. They may be calling their mate or their young. You can not always count on them being nearby, unless it is feeding time.

The main advice I have to give is be quiet and respect nature. Do not get too close. Keep a respectful distance. Don’t tell too many people, as they will tell some etc. and the owls may leave and not return. I have heard one story of a whole group of photographers walking through the forest everyday following the owls around and the pair left, never to return. So enjoy nature, but respect nature!