Jones Beach Owls

This is a public service announcement on my part. I went Jones Beach today and had shocking encounter with two people. They acted like I was too close to the owl. I was not. One claimed she was from the Audubon Society. She said the rule is 500 feet. I told her the signs at the park say 100 feet is the limit of how close you can get. She said there are no signs. I told her there were two I saw. She said the park did not put them up, someone just did that on their own. The man was yelling at me. First, they said I was closer than 500 feet. After I said the rule was 100, then they said I was closer than 100. I was not.

The owl got spooked twice when these people approached. The first time because two people approached from the side opposite me and at a pace that was too fast. I had been there a while and the owl had not moved. As soon as the two people approached quickly, he flew off. I was still and more than 100 feet away. The owl flew off to another dune. The second time the owl flew off was because the man started yelling again. He was standing right next to me. Again I was a lot farther than 100 feet watching the second dune he landed on. The man’s yelling spooked the owl. While he was yelling and the owl started flying, he made sure he got pictures though.

Sign one. It is poor quality due to weather fading, but clearly readable. 100 foot minimum. Department of Environmental Conservation. I was told by one regular photographer here that this is not even the rule at some other places. They post it here. I looked for info on the DEC website about Snowy Owls. A short search did not yield a 100 foot rule. I will still follow it as I have done.

I took pictures of the signs and went into the park office near West End 2 . I told them what happened and asked what the rule was. The lady inside at the desk said 100 feet. She said they put the signs up. She told me not to listen to those people and she was sorry that happened to me.

Sign 2. Clearly readable . 100 foot minimum. These are both at the entrances of the two foot paths to the beach. One is closer to the West End new building. It was on a snow fence. The other I believe was on a pole on the path walking from the building the restrooms are in.

I could say more about what they said and did, but I am trying to hold my tongue. Their actions later did not match up with their 500 foot rule needless to say.

Moral of the story, if you plan to go to see the snowy at Jones Beach follow the 100 feet rule. Do not let these two bully you. They are wrong. One would think yelling near an owl and approaching quickly from a second direction would be major issue if you really cared about owls.

Snowy Owl and Photographers

2020 was the year of the owl for me. Started off spring through summer following a barred owl family, then in early December watching short-eared owls, and before the end of December catching a snowy owl. These are night photos from my first trip to see the snowy. I hope for another trip soon. All of these on this post were taken around sunset or shortly after from a distance. I have a zoom, but its largest aperture opening is 6.5 so I cannot do what the big boys and girls do with the camera. These photos are heavily cropped as well.

After sunset the owl flew down off the dune to the beach. She played with a branch for a little while, then at blue hour flew to a sign where the beach meets the path back to the parking lot.

Teasing the photographers by acting like it would fly before sundown.
A lot of people , but I only saw early on one who was low crawling up the dune the snowy owl was on. The rest of the time people seemed to keep to a respectful distance.
Late afternoon sun.
The photographers are actually a respectful distance. They are on another dune. more than 100 feet away. Snowy owl paparazzi.
Walking around on the beach after a short flight.
I missed it flying. I was climbing down from another sand dune where I was about to give up and start the long trek to my car. Sure enough on the trip down she started to fly.
She landed on the beach.
She spent a lot of time playing with this stick on the beach.
As all the photographers started to leave, she flew to the sign by the path from the beach to the parking lot. Either she was saying good-bye or was seeing us out so she could hunt without an audience.
Yes! Now I have the beach to myself!

Follow the rules when it comes to snowy owls. I believe the sign at the beach that said you can not come within 100 feet or it is a 250 dollar fine. I understand some pros try to flush them out to get them in flight. Do not do that. These birds are dwindling and we need to protect them.

Owl Catch

Cats take pride in being a predator. They are known to sneak a mouse or two inside as a trophy to impress the human caretaker of their house. Do owls try to impress humans with their hunting prowess?

It sure felt that this owl was trying to impress me when I was watching. The owl kept circling overhead holding onto its prey. I even think he was trying to insure I got a good shot of his kill.

The weather has been mostly cloudy and dark. We had 50-60 mile an hour winds last night. Hard to get good shots when you need to have your ISO up to very high numbers. Wishing for some sunny days in the week ahead. Merry Christmas everyone or Happy New Year! Stay safe!

Short-Eared Owls

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.

Flying low
They were talking to each other and flying about each other. Could they be a pair?

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.

Paddling Fish Creek Ponds to Other Ponds

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.

Square Pond
On Fish Creek Ponds heading towards Square Pond
Square Pond Entrance

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

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.

Under this camp ground road leads into Fish Creek.
Once you went up Fish Creek a short ways, only boats with electric motors under 5 horsepower were allowed. This is great for kayakers and canoeists. It is also good for the wildlife.
Instead of paddling all the way back to Follensby Clear Pond from there a canoeist could pull up here and carry through a path to the pond. I tried to get out there ,but even on a sit on top kayak it was a no go. The dock was too short and the water right up to the land was too deep. I think it was actually about 2 1/2 to 3 feet deep or more next to the docks. It was all a very short area. I could not get close going head first or backwards to the dock in my over 10 foot kayak.
Copperas Pond
They actually had a sign up where you turn for this 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.

Looking towards the opposite end of the pond. I saw an eagle flying towards another pond from here. The eagles in the Adirondacks travel from pond to pond or lake to lake.
This was looking towards the exit of Copperas Pond into Fish Creek.
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.

The water here was shallow.

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.

Wildlife
This was a long Fish Creek heading back. This is a beaver lodge. Beavers abound in the Adirondacks, but it appears this one, if still active does not dam the bodies of water.

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.

Paddling Jones Pond to Osgood Pond Via Jones Pond Outlet

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.

Kayak launch on Jones Pond. You can access this via a dirt road off of Jones Pond Road. It was not ell marked when I was there. Usually there is a sign at the road. The sign was at that time was easy to miss. You can get to Jones Pond Road via 86 near Paul Smiths or from 60 on the other end of the road. The road to the boat launch is closer to the 60 end of the road.
In Jones Pond going towards Osgood Pond.
Entering Jones Pond Outlet, a waterway/ stream between the ponds.
A beaver dam that I had to clear a couple of sticks from to go across. The Jones Pond Outlet is quite accessible via Kayak. I think canoeists may have slightly more difficulty navigating the beaver dams.
A hawk I saw along the way.
Where the Jones Pond Passage meets Osgood Pond.
This couple was part of a small group of canoes. They started at Osgood Pond and tried to head to Jones Pond. They decided to turn around at the beaver dam. There is a beach area to the right of the entrance to the lake. I have seen different groups taking lunch breaks on that small beach.

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.

Franklinton Vlaie

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.

Access

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.

One happy rescue puppy living a great dog’s life. I understand this dog has gone camping in the Adirondacks with its owners and hiked one of the high peaks with them.
Animals

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.

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.