A Paddle to End the Day
With the warm afternoon sun dropping low enough to create shadows along the waterways, I decided to fit in one last paddle for the day. And so, Wren and I drove a few miles east from Long Lake to Fishing Brook, where a DEC sign marks the short drive off Route 28N to the put-in. Wren did her usual nosing along the edge of the parking area, and I unloaded the boat to push off from the brushy launch, listening to Red-eyed and Blue-headed Vireos sing as I did.
These were joined by Yellow-rumped Warblers, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Purple Finches, and Red-breasted Nuthatches as we began our paddle, but for the most part the birds were quiet in the late-day sun. We first headed downstream toward County Line Flow, winding around curve after curve lined with spruces and firs. It was beautiful, and Wren – who had been happily sleeping in the car when I disturbed her repose to get us prepared for canoeing – once again dozed off, as she usually does when we paddle.
Beaver Dams and Birds
A short distance into our trip and within sight distance of County Line Flow, we reached a large, impressive beaver dam and I paused for a few photos while debating if I wanted to take the time to cross it or not. It would have been fun, but the wind was fairly strong and I didn’t think I’d paddle far on County Line Flow as a result, so I saved the crossing time, skipping the beaver dam, and turned, assuming Wren was happy with this choice since she wouldn’t have her rest disturbed again.
We backtracked our route, stopping to find a singing Northern Parula and to listen to the songs of Hermit Thrushes from the neighboring forest before passing beneath the bridge at the put-in. We continued to explore further upstream as the brook wound and looped its way through an open alder thicket and marsh habitat - where the warm sun created a quiet, sleepy feeling across the landscape.
I paused for Alder Flycatchers, Common Yellowthroats, Song and Swamp Sparrows, and several Cedar Waxwings as we went, and we eventually spooked a few Wood Ducks, a Great Blue Heron, and Mallards that had settled ahead of us on the water. A Belted Kingfisher chattered as it flew from perch to perch along the stream as did a couple Northern Flickers which zipped overhead. Green Frogs strummed their banjo-like calls, and we negotiated our way around or over a few low beaver dams before we reached the local beaver’s grandest architectural achievement. I took that as our place to turn around again – our way was blocked and I didn’t have the time to paddle much beyond the dam to justify the effort and time of traversing it.
And so we took our time as we wound back toward the take-out, pausing again for birds and to snap photos of Kempshall Mountain’s rounded form in the distance. Once back at the take-out, Wren swam and drank by the bridge while I reloaded the gear.
Evening Birding at Shaw Pond
But our day wasn’t finished yet. As we drove back toward Long Lake, I stopped at the picnic pull-off at Shaw Pond – I had stopped there earlier that day but the afternoon sun was hot and there wasn’t much moving. I was optimistic that I’d have more luck in the evening and I soon found that my hope was not misplaced.
Since Shaw Pond sits directly along Route 28N, Wren remained in the car while I scanned from the slope along the pond — which can serve as a put-in to the small and shallow waterbody if adventurous paddlers want to explore it further. I immediately spotted a few Wood Ducks in the pools between the cattails, and as I scoured the marsh further I began picking out more and more. I eventually found better than 20 Wood Ducks in all – as well as a few Mallards – while Common Yellowthroats and Swamp and Song Sparrows called and sang from the marsh, and Hermit Thrushes offered their evening vespers from the surrounding woods. A few Cedar Waxwings took advantage of the last minutes of daylight to hawk insects from the snags in the pond, and I also noted a Great Blue Heron fishing in the shallows while another flew overhead.
More exciting still was a Virginia Rail which grunted its call from the nearby cattails and I was able to spot the secretive bird lurking along the edge of the reeds. I stopped to take it all in — reluctant to leave, but I knew that Wren was waiting and watching for me. And so, happy with the stop to top off our day, I walked back to the car and we headed for home.