The three-day annual Adirondack Birding Festival was held for the 11th year in a row with perfect weather! Sixty-seven people traveled to Hamilton County to attend field trips, dine on the W.W. Durant, and attend a keynote presentation held at the Adirondack Experience, The Museum on Blue Mountain Lake. So many people return year after year, that one veteran field trip leader said it is akin to seeing old friends every June!
Field Trips and Driving Safaris
Eleven field trips and driving safaris were held over three days. Most of the trips take participants into the lush boreal habitat of Hamilton County and surrounding areas. Hamilton County sits in the heart of the unique boreal zone that runs in a diagonal from the northeastern part of the Adirondacks to the southwestern region.
I led trips to Ferd's Bog, Brown's Tract Inlet rail bed, Sabattis Circle Road (with a hike on the Round Pond Trail), and Moose River Plains. At Ferd's Bog, we listened to Yellow-bellied Flycatchers, observed a Black-backed Woodpecker carrying food back and forth to a nest site, and observed a Lincoln's Sparrow that occasionally sang. Later that morning, along Brown's Tract Inlet, we found a Hairy Woodpecker nest site, observed a Least Flycatcher, Magnolia and Chestnut-sided Warblers, and listened to a Northern Waterthrush sing. We found over 50 species Friday morning.
On Saturday, I led a road safari along Sabattis Circle Road and hike on the Round Pond Road trail. This area is in the William C. Whitney Wilderness Area, which is a designated Important Bird Area (IBA) in New York State. Our car pool train began by observing a Great Blue Heron rookery. We observed a Hairy Woodpecker nest site with young just about to fledge (one nearly fell out of the nest hole!), and found a tiny, brand new Ruffed Grouse chick in the road! The female Ruffed Grouse was nearby with many other chicks along the edge of the road. At Sabattis Bog, the local Gray Jay family, an adult pair with two juveniles, came out for the raisins we brought for them. A third adult Gray Jay appeared, causing a ruckus. We also observed a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker heading to a nest and we found 17 warbler species, including a beautiful Blackburnian Warbler. Our group also traveled to another Long Lake trail to observe an active Black-backed Woodpecker nest site that I've been watching. Near Sabattis Bog, we heard the loud "Quick, Three Beers" song of the Olive-sided Flycatcher. Our group also observed an active Broad-winged Hawk nest. Overall, we found nearly 60 species Saturday morning.
On Sunday, we had another carpool train that headed into Moose River Plains, another designated IBA in New York State. Spending time at the Red River afforded us views of an Alder Flycatcher, Cedar Waxwings, American Restart, Chestnut-sided Warbler and Canada Warbler. Along the Mitchell Ponds Trail, we had lovely views of Yellow-bellied and Alder Flycatchers, and many Lincoln's Sparrows. On our way to the Helldiver Pond Trail, we found a Merlin (a medium sized Falcon species) in the midst of a dust bath right in the middle of the road. On the Helldiver Pond Trail everyone enjoyed views of a Blue-headed Vireo. We found 45 species Sunday morning.
Pat and John Thaxton also led four field trips during the Adirondack Birding Festival. They too, found many woodpecker species nest sites. A highlight for them was finding Cape May Warblers once again breeding along the Roosevelt Truck Trail in Minerva.
Wanda and Mike Moccio led two field trips during the Festival. Highlights for them included finding an Olive-sided Flycatcher and a pair of Rusty Blackbirds on territory with the male singing during the Perkins Clearing field trip. Rusty Blackbirds are steeply declining across their breeding range and it is becoming harder and harder to find them in the Adirondacks.
Overall, 86 species were tallied during the Adirondack Birding Festival field trips this year.
W.W. Durant Dinner Cruise
On Friday evening, Adirondack Birding Festival participants were once again offered a special price on the W.W. Durant dinner cruise shared with the Black Fly Challenge bicyclists. The only rain of the weekend threatened Friday evening, so most people chose to have drinks below deck in the dining room this year instead of the upper deck. As usual, the food was fantastic, and the cruise was scenic and relaxing!
Saturday afternoon, Wendy Hall, of the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge and Rehabilitation Center, gave the keynote presentation held at the Adirondack Museum. Wendy and her staff brought along many raptors (owls and hawks). For each raptor, Wendy gave the story of how it was injured and how it came to live at the Refuge. The children in the audience had a chance to be photographed with some of the birds. Wendy's caring heart of gold shone brightly all through the presentation. Rehabilitators are such unsung heroes.
Adirondack Birding Festival in 2016
If you would like to make plans to attend the 12th annual Adirondack Birding Festival next year, it is always held on the 2nd weekend in June, Friday through Sunday. It is a free event! Hamilton County has many lodging and restaurant options to make your stay comfortable!