Searching for Sandhill Cranes
Wren and I spent a day exploring around Tupper Lake last week and we started by looking for the Sandhill Cranes which have been hanging out in the area for the past several weeks. We checked out Dugal Road where the birds have been reported, but not finding them there, we drove down Stetson Road where we saw them lying down in a grassy field. The birds have been in the Tupper Lake area for a while and they may even have attempted to breed - although they didn't have any chicks with them. It will be interesting to see how long they stay around and if they return to the area next year.
After enjoying the cranes, we moved on and briefly scanned the Tupper Lake Marsh which is always worth a look, although we didn't see much on the day. We continued south and stopped at Sabattis Bog which can be great for both warblers and boreal birds. Our arrival was a tad later than optimal on the warm day, but I walked along the road for a spell and found a Magnolia Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Red-eyed and Blue-headed Vireos, as well as two soaring Broad-winged Hawks and a soaring Osprey.
Finding Fall Warblers and Moose Tracks on a Hike
We drove towards Little Tupper Lake and stopped to hike along Round Pond Road - a dirt two track road providing easement access to a mixed forest which can be good for a variety of songbirds. While things were still quiet on the warm day I found Nashville Warblers, Magnolia Warblers, Yellow-rumped Warblers, a Palm Warbler, and a Bay-breasted Warbler, among others. Further along we found a set of moose tracks which had been made in the gravelly sand a few days earlier, and I looked in vain for any fresher sign of the huge animal.
Another sign of wildlife in the area was the pile of bear scat decorating Sabattis Road as we slowly drove in search of more migrating flocks after we had finished our hike. We had a similar mix of birds as before adding a few species like Pileated Woodpecker and American Redstart to our list for the day. With the afternoon sun high and hot, we took a break at the DEC headquarters along Little Tupper Lake where Wren swam and dug in the sand at the beach while I sat and ate in the shade. A few Yellow-rumped Warblers, Black-capped Chickadees, a Common Yellowthroat, and a Black-throated Green Warbler fed in the trees along the lakeshore.
Back at Sabattis in the Evening
I had a few things to do that afternoon further south so we loaded up and headed towards Long Lake before returning north later in the day. By then the sun was beginning to cool its once fiery demeanor, and I drove along the back roads again to see what we could find. At Sabattis Bog I heard the chip notes of Black-capped Chickadees and other birds so we again paused to investigate the bog in the low, slanting rays of the evening sun. It didn't take long for me to realize this was by far the best songbird flock of the day. Palm Warblers hopped and bobbed their tails down low while a large number of Blackpoll Warblers flitted and chipped from tree to tree above. Yellow-rumped, Nashville, and Magnolia Warblers added their color to the flock, and I soon found both a Tennessee Warbler and a beautiful male Cape May Warbler mixed in with the others - two species I had been hoping to see on the day. Golden-crowned Kinglets, Blue-headed Vireos, Red-eyed Vireos, a Hairy Woodpecker, and a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker joined the flock and 5 Gray Jays soon arrived to see if I would offer them a handout. The jays landed on the power line above me, but seeing I had no food with me, they glided their way back into the forest. The warbler flock quickly moved on too - back into the trees and away from the road. The excitement, so overly-present one minute was gone the next and it became time for me to move on as well. But it had been a great way to end the day.