Paddling & Birding Rock Pond

A Great Place To Explore

alan belford

A Tucked Away Gem

Rock Pond in the Spring Pond Bog Complex is a splendid paddling and birding spot. And so I was happy when I was able to add in a stop there to some of my other field travels. Wren and I drove back through the maze of dirt roads which compose the complex, finding a variety of species as we did. The overcast skies were threatening rain, but that did help keep the afternoon more active, and we found plenty of the usual birds as a result -- Red-eyed and Blue-headed Vireos, Wild Turkeys, Eastern Phoebes, Ovenbirds, Northern Parulas, and a few other warblers. I spooked a hunting Broad-winged Hawk along the side of the road, and further along the begging cries of a young Merlin caught my attention; it was chasing its parents attempting to score a meal, and complaining loudly that it wasn't getting anything. Sounds like some people I know!

Rock Pond is a beautiful, secluded place to paddle.

Finding Birds Despite Delays

We arrived at the pond and took a short walk along the quiet dirt road toward the pond's boggy outlet while Nashville and Yellow-rumped Warblers called and sang from the conifers which dominate the shoreline. A Canada Warbler joined them - calling from a wet thicket, and I tried to spish it into view without success. Our short walk complete, I began to unload the boat, but the clouds darkened and the sky almost immediately opened in a steady rain. We retreated into the car but thankfully the shower was over quickly enough so that we weren't delayed too long. Wren swam and nosed around the boat launch while I continued to unload. We set out across the pond and I skirted the boggy edge of the pond paddling straight into the outlet where I heard an Olive-sided Flycatcher calling pip, pip, pip in the distance.We found a number of Nashville Warblers while we were out. Photo courtesy of

I reached into my bag to organize my camera gear in case I had a chance to photograph the flycatcher, only to realize that I had left an important piece of equipment in my car. I paused briefly - I didn't want to paddle back only to find the flycatcher had left in the meantime -- but if I wanted photos I needed to go back. And so I reversed course and headed to the put-in, Wren getting excited that we were returning so quickly (she'd far rather run and swim than to sit still while I paddle).

A Chance for Photographs

Before I reached the take-out I noticed a Sharp-shinned Hawk hunting along the shoreline from a low snag -- I hadn't see it on my way out. I made a fast stop at my car, telling Wren to wait for me in the boat (something she did with spot-on obedience) - and was quickly back in and paddling. Back for the birds I went, starting with the Sharp-shinned. It was still in the same spot where I had found it and I noticed a second Sharpie soaring in the distance - apparently they had nested some place nearby. I nosed the canoe along a small snaking rivulet in order to get close enough for photos of the first bird which sat quietly looking for prey. We then sat for a while as the Sharpie flew from perch to perch near us. Eventually I was able to capture decent photos of it as it hunted and after it moved to a more distant perch, I decided to see if I could re-find the Olive-sided Flycatcher after what had amounted to a very long delay in tracking it down.The Olive-sided Flycatcher shows off its breast and sides - which make it look a bit like it is wearing a vest.

But despite this postponement I heard the Olive-sided calling almost immediately when I entered the boggy and marshy outlet of the pond, and I was able to watch it for a while as it called and fed from the snags along the water. I also managed a few photos. Happy with this we moved on to paddle the edge of the entire small pond - poking into any nooks we could find. I added a number of other birds - like Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Swamp Sparrow, Cedar Waxwing, and Common Grackle, but none of them cooperated for photos like the Sharpie and the Olive-sided had. Finally with the evening coming and the need for dinner arising, I completed my loop and returned to the take-out.

Once again Wren swam and drank while I loaded the boat, and I continued to bird on our drive out - being rewarded for my diligence by a Black-backed Woodpecker. It was a nice way to cap off our day.

Late summer and early fall offer excellent birding opportunities. Check out our outdoor recreation, lodgingdining, and camping pages to learn more!

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