The Moose River Plains is a vast, remote wilderness area south of Raquette Lake and west of Indian Lake. You can access the Moose River Rd., a packed dirt logging road with exposed rocks (drive carefully), at either end. We entered from the west, at the gate near Limekiln State Park. Our first stop was the small bridge over the Red River. There was a tremendous amount of bird activity around us, but the only visuals we could get, even in this low, scrubby, open area were numerous White-throated Sparrows, a female Redstart, some distant Crows, and some fearless chickadees. On the way out, we did have a flycatcher sitting on the bridge railing, but he pleaded the fifth admendment and would not identify himself.
The trail to Icehouse Pond was overgrown with vegetation, and we decided to backtrack a bit before we got to the pond itself, doing some stationary observing in a spot without much in the way of taller trees. Other than a pair of Northern Flickers on top of a distant dead snag, it was very quiet, and we decide to move on. After reading quite a lot about the area, this was quite a disappointment, and I was beginning to wonder if we had wasted a day in an unproductive location.
Helldiver Pond offered hope, for as soon as we got out of the vehicle, there was a singing Nashville Warbler in the roadside edge. Red-breasted Nuthatch were abundant, along with chickadees (Black-capped only, sigh). A couple of Hermit Thrushes were make their fluting call. There were plenty of small songbirds moving around, tantalizingly just out of view. As we were about to give up, a very cooperative Canada Warbler flew down to eye-level, posed as he slowly moved even closer one branch at a time, and appeared to be just as curious about us as vice-versa. We had a good minute-long, unobstructed view of this guy. Thanks, pal. I needed that.
On the way back from the pond's edge, through the tall, dense forest (picture), we were stunned by the sound of an approaching vehicle. You are in such a desolate area, with nothing but natural sounds, that seeing/hearing anything man-made becomes odd. The SUV (family of four) pulled up to us, and the driver asked if we had gotten pictures of the moose. "Moose?", I said, as if this were akin to seeing a donkey on the moon. "Yeah, the guys here a little while ago got lots of pictures." Simultaneously, we all looked down at the large unmistakable tracks on the path that we had been walking for the better part of an hour. Oops. "Yeah, I saw the tracks out on the road this morning, and they led right down to here."
Anticipating your next question, YES, I did have a camera. Thisclose to a moose.
Our final destination was the Lost Ponds, where instead of driving up the side spur road, I decided we should walk it instead. Other than coming across a wide open clearing off to the side of the road, which we explored for a little while, there was not much happening, as it was nearly noon by now. We returned to the vehicle and headed back to base, and I had a melancholy feeling that we had been just this far from a great day, without quite being in sync with the environment. The birds will reveal themselves to you. Or not. Sometimes, you just miss. But not if you go to Bloomingdale Bog. Next.