The B.A.R.B. at SongStar

Meeting in the Adirondacks
August 1999

by Emily Pugsley, Anne Smith, and Porgy Smith.
Photos by Porgy Smith

A nice day in the Adirondacks despite cool beginning and threatening rain (called unstable weather). Our special "lifers" for today were Anne and Ray Smith who arrived at our little red schoolhouse using a day from their special few here in Northern New York. We showed the way to Porgy's lovely spot on Jones Pond where we set off to see what we could see. Someone said I should keep the list but I hope I remember all for you; primarily it was a nice day with nice people but in addition we enjoyed birds at Porgy's feeder- Red and White breasted Nuthatches, Hummingbirds, Hairy Woodpecker (immature) and almost? adult with a little spot of red; Juncos and Chickadees. In her back yard Mallards and Canada Geese (just learning to fly) flew, and the call of a Loon in the distance. We explored her backyard (the pond) in canoes (with Porgy in a bright yellow kayak) and poked into the grasses hoping for Ring-necked Ducks which refused to show themselves. As we looked upward there was a big blob in a tree- what hawk is this (says my Axia program in my head). Just dark colored blob, wow- what a beak; hey, it's big; must be an Eagle. An immature Bald Eagle which let us get very close to the tree before soaring off calling our attention to a Broad-winged Hawk which looked so small above in the sky.

Canoeing on Jones Pond

We heard Goldfinch and explored the inlet all the way to another pond negotiating beaver dams and very low water level; didn't have to get out and push at all (we're all stubborn). Soon after returning we saw the expected Common Mergansers and then enjoyed a great variety of teas to choose from and some of Porgy's special cranberry bread!

I know it may be hard for many of you to believe, but hot tea was what the day called for. I started the morning with a turtleneck and wool sweater with fuzzy polartech (or something) shirt. I did shed through the day when the sun peeked out, but we are experiencing a week of relief from hot days and hope most of you are, too. As we have done all week, we escaped showers whenever we were out and got light rain at other times (which we need). Thanks Porgy for sharing your extended yard; nice views, and knowledge, etc.

— Emily and Jim


Thanks Emily but you forgot (or were too polite to mention) the adventure of having to pull one member of the group in her little yellow kayak over not one but two beaver dams on the return trip. Think I would have been walking home, or at least around the dams, if it had not been for Jim pulling me over. Glad I was the one with the camera so there is no record of what that sight must have been. It really was a nice day and I was happy to meet Anne and Ray. Hope we will be able to do it all again. Well, maybe we could leave out the getting stuck on the beaver dams part.

— Porgy Smith, Jones Pond, Adirondacks, New York

Emily's excellent post summed up our trip to Porgy's thoroughly. (except for Porgy's important addition about her kayak) Now I don't have to talk about the birds at all, which is just as well because I have to admit that I was more interested in the people since I'd never met of them before. (I *love* being listed by Emily as a lifer!) Plus canoeing may not be the very best way to bird, but it sure is one of the most fun ways. Ray and I were staying at Elk Lake; we drove to the Pugsleys adorable little red schoolhouse and then followed them through Lakes Placid and Saranac (have never been to either before- quite an interesting and pleasant drive) on over to Porgy's lovely home at Jones Pond. Richard, why have you never been there? You're really missing something!

from left to right - Anne, Jim, Emily, and Ray

After much too short a day (It was a four hour round trip for us) we returned to our cottage at Elk Lake, where we were spending three nights, and our loons. This was our third year "looning" there; we try to go at a different time each year so that we can see them in their different stages. (Haven't tried June- which would be wonderful for loon song- but it's also black fly season.) The Lodge has advertised that they have one loon pair only each year. I think we proved that they have two, as we located two groups of two adults and a chick each, and the chicks were at least two weeks apart in age as one was fully feathered and diving regularly, whereas the other was still fluffy and much smaller. We also found five adults at one time, so the pair from the next pond was probably visiting. Elk Lake is surrounded by 12,000 privately owned acres, which border park land, so it is indeed isolated. Apart from the Lodge guests (about 30) there are no other people there (no phones, TV, or even airplane noise) so the silence is remarkable. We could (and did) spend hours in the canoe, especially before breakfast and after dinner, just watching the mist on the mountains and the behavior of the loons. We wore winter clothes up there!!! Now it's back to practically 100% humidity!

Emily, Jim, Ray, and Anne

A comment on hummingbirds: After the recent remarks on the list about aggression, I discovered that the feeders at Elk Lake were LOADED with hummers, as were Emily and Jim's and Porgy's feeders. So it's NOT just in the West or Central America where you find this, even though we have just one species of hummer here. Joint feeding by males and females still was rare, but it appears that the females are now bringing their families to the feeders. So my mission today is to go out and buy another feeder. Elk Lake had three, and Emily and Jim also had multiple feeders.

Cheri, we didn't see any snakes, which was fine with me. I'm *so* sorry you didn't see your rattlesnake! What a great trip you had- and what a great writeup.

Emily, Jim and Porgy- Thanks so much for a lovely day.

— Anne and Ray, back in Pound Ridge, New York

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Copyright  1999 by Emily Pugsley, Anne Smith, Porgy Smith, and Richard L. Becker