Time is running out. Reaching the dead period of mid-afternoon, the chances of producing a stellar bird list for my first Birdathon in two years is decreasing rapidly with every passing moment. Birds no longer sing with the fervor of the early morning hours, leaving visual identification of new species my most important chance of
The worst thing about crossing a beaver dam in the Adirondacks is that sometimes you just do not know what you are going to find on the other end. Sometimes the conditions are obvious from the other side, but often it is not. This is the case when I cross a beaver dam (point #13
Beavers. They ruined my Birdathon experience this year. Well, ruined may be strong a word, foiled is probably better. Those industrious rodents are either boon or bane while birding (and bushwhacking) within Adirondack forests. Their ponds, created often by damming streams, provide ample habitat for many species of birds. Long after the beavers’ departure and
EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!! Waking from a deep sleep, it takes me a few seconds to recognize the mechanical screech of my radio’s alarm. Scrambling in the dark, I find my GPS, my compass, my hat and about everything else other than the radio. My hand finally connects with the small radio and I switch off the alarm,
With the climbing from Raven Lake Road over, only the descent through regenerating blowdown remains on my bushwhack to Cropsey Pond. From Cropsey, my birding trek through the eastern Pepperbox Wilderness for the Birdathon on the following day should yield a vast array of bird species. Or so I am hoping.
For the first time in two years, I return to Cropsey Pond in the Pepperbox Wilderness for the Audubon Society’s Birdathon, a 24-hour long contest to observe as many bird species as possible. Despite a serious head cold, a long climb from Raven Lake Road over a small rise is the only thing standing between me and the small, remote pond.
The second and last day of the Frostbite Overnight starts with a shocking surprise when a sudden and loud noise echoes within the Hoxie Gorge lean-to. After recovering from sudden awaking, we eat breakfast, say good-bye to the chickens and hike out to our vehicle the same way we came in. On the way home, we stop at the Eureka store in Binghamton before returning to Syracuse under the typical blue skies.
After hiking into Hoxie Gorge for a shortened Frostbite Overnight, we find ourselves faced with the task of amusing ourselves for the rest of the afternoon. Although the five resident chickens at the lean-to provide an interesting distraction, we also engage in a little exploring, a gear show and tell and the always highly anticipated Happy Hour. As the day draws to a close, we end up sharing the lean-to with some interesting visitors.
This year’s Frostbite Overnight, an annual early spring hiking adventure, contains many firsts. This year’s trip lives up to its name by being only a single overnight, instead of the usual two. The destination is Hoxie Gorge, a state forest near Cortland, instead of somewhere in the Catskills State Park. And unlike no other trip, we share a lean-to shelter with a bunch of chickens. It has to be read to be believed.
Finally, after a two-year absence due to a nagging knee injury, I once again participated in the Audubon Society’s Birdathon this past weekend. For the third time, I ventured into the wild and trailless heart of the Pepperbox Wilderness in the northwestern Adirondacks. Unfortunately, I was not alone, as a nasty and tenacious head cold