Sunny Paddling Weather!
Our warm weather of late has made for terrific paddling in the southern Adirondacks, and Wren and I took advantage of it to enjoy some time birding on Round Lake this past week. The day was so warm that the weather was actually hotter than I usually like for a paddle! So we delayed a bit beforehand - poking around in the neighboring woods before setting out on the water later in the day and pointing our bow into the glare of the sun.
Birds and Flies Along the Way
My favorite part of paddling Round Lake is following the stream from the put-in which connects paddlers to Little Tupper Lake. The stream leads you along a boggy and marshy edge which can be good for birds. With a warm late afternoon sun on them, the birds were largely quiet, but we spooked an American Bittern from the grasses near the put-in all the same. Further along I spotted an American Kestrel hunting from the snags on the bog mat, and I watched him fly from one perch to another, dropping to the ground in an attempt to catch something. Cedar Waxwings sat on some of the nearby trees too, hawking insects.
We had been hiking during much of the day so Wren was tired and wanted to doze in the sun, but we picked up a contingent of flies (known by most folks as ankle biters) which kept harassing her, so she spent most of her time warding them off of her legs and feet. I paused regularly from paddling to slap them and began to keep track of my kill count for fun. More flies seemed to arrive despite my efforts, and poor Wren was in for a tough outing. (Note to readers: bring bug repellant or wear long sleeves and you can avoid this kind of fun!)
As we slid through the stream, I noticed a few Wood Ducks feeding in the weeds up ahead. But they had long since known we were there and before we got very close they took to flight and looped back around us. Another small group of Wood Ducks wasn't far behind, and then a few more, and I figured there were about 15 of them in total. The stream widened as we approached the lake and I hugged the shoreline to see if we could find anything hiding in the vegetation. We were in luck – a Common Yellowthroat and a Swamp Sparrow called and then I noticed a Wilson's Warbler – a species migrating through the region right now. Happy with that we set out onto the lake to loop a few islands before heading back to the stream.
Onto the Lake and Back Out Again
We encountered a pair of Common Loons both of which were calling at our approach – even though we weren't particularly close to them - and Wren paused from her feud with the flies to watch them swim around us. One of the loons dived and resurfaced very close to us and I was wishing I had my camera ready for it. But I had set it down to help Wren with her on-going fly problem, and before I could grab it the loon was gone again below the surface. As we looped back out of the lake a loon again (likely the same individual) rose to the surface directly in front of the boat and then immediately corrected its mistake and dived again. It had caught both us and itself by surprise!
We continued back towards the put-in and I kept smacking the flies for Wren as my count continued to grow...23, 24, 25, 26. I was in the midst of breaking my single-paddle-fly-slapping record! In the end I killed 35 of them and my work not only gave me some strange woodsman satisfaction, it also offered Wren some peace so that she allowed herself to rest and doze a bit as we worked our way back out, chasing the same Wood Ducks again.
The sun was cooler by then too, and at our backs, making the return trip more pleasant than it had been on the way out. I had been hoping we could see a beaver swimming from one of the many lodges along the stream, but it may have still been a bit early and bright for them. We did pass a group of students from St. Lawrence University who were out for the weekend on a camping and paddling trip (I had spoken to one of their leaders at the put-in) and Wren watched them as they cooed at her face peeking over the edge of the boat. They looked like they would have a great weekend to be out and a nice cool night for sleeping as well. After all, by the time we had reached the put-in it had cooled significantly and the air felt delicious as we drove home – Wren finally able to get some real sleep.