On Tuesday the 14th, we visited the Visitor Interperative Center in Newcomb, Essex County; the following day, we explored it's slightly older sister facility at Paul Smiths, up in Franklin County. Both locations offer well-maintained trails, interesting wildlife and ecosystem exhibits, and a wealth of printed information, as well as computers set up to aid with field identification of birds. Paul Smiths is larger and offers more opportunities for birders, but Newcomb should not be passed over if only for it's impressive old growth forest areas. There are some big trees (picture) in those woods (picture)!
We chose the Sage Trail at Newcomb, as it traverses all the different habitats of the area. Two other trails wind along Rich Lake and probably have some good views. As we walked down towards the water, we heard Hermit Thrush and Red-eyed Vireo. In a dense area of mixed forest, we ran into a large flock of assorted chickadees, nuthatches and warblers foraging in the upper branches. The only good view of a warbler was a flame-throated Blackburnian. Where a bridge crosses the narrows (picture) between the two ends of the lake we were greeted by a pair of rattling Belted Kingfishers.
The rest of the hike was uneventful, other than a Red Squirrel (picture) who was unhappy that I had walked through his neighborhood and told me so in no uncertain terms. We also saw a Brown Creeper climbing up a trunk, which was a first for my wife.
Wednesday the 15th we ventured up north to the Paul Smiths VIC. The parking area is large and open, and yes, it has a lot of birds. I'm seriously considering writing a book called "Parking-lot Birding." There were Black-throated Blue, and Green, Warblers about the lot, and I thought I was hearing a Pine Warbler as well, but couldn't confirm it visually. We chose to tackle the Boreal Life Trail, which starts out in heavy, wet woods (picture) and winds it's way out to Barnum Pond (picture). Hermit Thrush were calling, and there were numerous Red-breasted Nuthatches along the path.
The highlight of this trail is the 1600 foot boardwalk (picture) through a boreal bog. There are even benches at a couple of spots, and you really could spend many hours just walking up and down observing. A Red-tailed Hawk did a flyover, as did two Great Blue Herons. The highlights were two Nashville Warblers moving through the bog, and a Yellow-rumped Warbler working over a tamarack. This is an excellent spot to watch birds, and you really feel out in the middle of nowhere; even the bog plants (picture) are unusual.
This was the one day with nice weather, so we reluctantly left before noon so we could enjoy some kayaking and fishing on Long Lake. We needed to rest up, too, for our Thursday trip to the wilderness, the Moose River Plains. More on that to follow.