Alan Belford

Alan Belford has spent much of his life outdoors exploring and learning about wildlife – particularly birds. An avid outdoor recreationist and athlete, Alan is often out hiking, paddling, running, or cross country skiing – with his Labrador retriever Wren at this side. His hobbies and athletic pursuits soon became a profession when he began his career, earning two graduate degrees in wildlife along the way. A certified teacher and former cross country, baseball, and ultimate frisbee coach, he loves teaching others and has taught multiple natural history (specializing in ornithology) courses for both college students and the general public. His wildlife research has focused on vertebrates – particularly mammals and birds – most recently with the Wildlife Conservation Society researching the impact of human development on wildlife communities in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State. He is a licensed guide in New York State, he has traveled widely both domestically and internationally, and he is also a published travel writer and photographer – focusing on outdoor and nature writing. He can be contacted at alan.belford1@gmail.com.

A ducky time of year

With the calendar continuing to lead us toward winter, it is a great time of year to take a trip along the waters of Lake Champlain. After all, the past several weeks have seen growing contingents of ducks on the lake with species like Gadwall, Green-winged Teal, Redhead, Canvasback, and White-winged Scoter mixed in with the much more common Greater and Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, and Common Goldeneye....

An amazing time of year!

Fall may be the best time of year to go birding in the Champlain Valley. After all, fall migration stretches from mid-late summer straight up until winter, and it brings with it an endless stream of arriving and passing birds. This year, the warblers and other songbirds of late summer have already been parading through the region, and although our late summer shorebird migration season started a bit slowly...

Spring and summer paddling

The winter sun is getting higher and higher in the sky, which means that the snow and ice which have held tightly to the Champlain Valley for the past few months will soon be loosening their grip. After all, spring may just be beginning, but it isn’t too early to think about our upcoming paddling season. And the Champlain...

A time of transition

While winter currently still holds a tight grip on the landscape across the Champlain Valley, the longer days and the changing calendar are beginning to give us a glimpse that spring is coming.

It begins with holes in the ice which has covered Lake Champlain for months. These are quickly filled by rafts of migrating waterfowl — particularly ducks — on their way north. The ducks are soon joined by other...

Of melting snow and frozen ice

The first changes that come with spring are always exciting. I had to meet someone in Plattsburgh this week and I took advantage of the trip and the beautiful spring weather to look for birds along the Adirondack Coast. The valley will soon be devoid of snow as the warmer temps melt most of what was on the ground, but Lake Champlain will remain cold and locked for some time, as it did for much of the...

A great time of year

With winter in full swing across the North Country, it is not only time to step into skis and to strap on snowshoes, it is also time to head to the Champlain Valley in search of birds. While the valley offers good birding all year round, winter can be excellent for a number of sought-after species, making winter trips a must.[img:...

It’s that time of year again

Like everything else during the holiday season, Christmas Bird Counts (CBCs) sneak up on me before I am ready. There are emails a few months before the date, followed by more emails, and then the day arrives and I’m somehow mystified as to how that happened. Chalk it up to busyness and far too much to do.

A great start to the winter season

In the weeks preceding the counts, many folks head...

Early fall on the water

The early fall day was advancing through the afternoon when I set out with my dog, Wren, onto the La Chute River on our way to explore Ti Marsh in Ticonderoga. The paddle is my favorite in the Champlain Valley, and one of my favorite paddles in the entire North Country. I was fortunate since this was my second paddle on...

A summer front with birds on the move

With one of the first cold fronts of the season pushing through this past weekend, it was time to head to the Champlain Valley and see what migrating birds I could find. After all, shorebirds had been popping up in the region for a few days before our trip, including a Short-billed Dowitcher in Westport and a Red-necked Phalarope at Crown Point. There had also been a Little Gull hanging out with...

Spring has arrived!

While winter has taken it's time departing, the spring movement of waterfowl and other species in the Lake Champlain Region has not been deterred. For instance, just the other day a friend of mine found 17 species of waterfowl in Bulwagga Bay from Crown Point and...

Wild Windy Weather

The wind was howling when Wren and I walked down to the beach at Noblewood Park in Willsboro with a plan to scan through the birds there. White-capped waves rolled and crashed along Lake Champlain, and the strong gale made scoping difficult at best and impossible at worst. The fact that it began snowing didn't help my...

An exciting stop on the way to the valley

On our way to check out birds in the Lake Champlain Region, my brother, nephew, and I decided to check out Ausable Club Road where, as the name suggests, the Ausable Club sits. There had been a report of possible Common Redpolls and Pine Grosbeaks there, neither of which have been around this winter, so it was worth a stop.

Our day had already started with a Northern Shrike along Old...

Birds everywhere!

Our wildly variable weather has produced birds throughout the Lake Champlain Region all winter from Snowy Owls to an array of ducks. Unfortunately I've been so busy I haven't been out as much as I'd like, so when a few free hours presented themselves on a recent trip to the Plattsburgh area, I took advantage to see what I could find. 

Ausable Marsh

I was running a bit late when I left, and so I had...

An Irruption Year

Snowy Owls move south into the North Country during every winter, but their abundance varies greatly from year to year. In fact, they generally only arrive in numbers about once every four years – depending upon food availability to our north and how successful they were at raising their young. And so, excitement echoed throughout the birding world when this past fall it became increasingly clear that this winter...

A New Year’s Day Trip

People celebrate the New Year in different ways, but for most birdwatchers, the year begins with a birding trip. And so, after taking my time to get going with the cold temps outside (it was about -25 that morning!), my four-legged companion Wren and I loaded up for the Lake Champlain Region. 

We planned to start our day at...

It’s that time of year

With winter upon us, we have reached the time of year when Christmas Bird Counts (CBCs) mark the days on the calendars of birders around the country and the world.

A few local counts were held during the first weekend of the count period, which straddles the New Year. These included Elizabethtown and Plattsburgh, the latter of which I’ve helped with in the past. This year, as I’ve done the past couple...

Another Beautiful Day in the Lake Champlain Region

With waterfowl and other migrating birds on the move, and after our Cave Swallow find a few days earlier, Wren and I took advantage of another great day to go birding in the Champlain Valley, this time along the southern portion of the lake. We began at Westport Boat Launch, where there was...

The Potential of Fall Birding

Fall birding brings with it both the usual migrants as well as odd and interesting finds. It not only makes for an exciting time of year, it also means that birders have to be prepared for what might come their way. And so with the hope of both usual migrants and unusual species, Wren and I headed to the northern Lake Champlain Region last week. I had to take care of some business in Plattsburgh, so I...

Fall Fronts

Anytime a fall cold front passes through the region, it is a good idea to head out and see what’s moving south with the wind in its tail. Such was the case the other day before our current heat wave, when north and northeast winds blew south along Lake Champlain, and I explored the lakeshore to see what I could find.

Westport...

A morning walk inspires a day of travel

My birding day started with a great deal of promise when I found nine species of warblers while walking Wren along Lake Colby in Saranac Lake. It was late in the fall for such diversity, but given how much south wind we’ve had of late, I figured many of our migrants had been held up, awaiting winds from the north.

The list was highlighted by four Tennessee Warblers that foraged in one...

An Opportunity to Bird the Valley

Any chance to do some birding along Lake Champlain is a good one, so I took advantage of a trip I was making to Plattsburgh by birding with a friend. We began at Ausable Marsh Wildlife Management Area, and the morning rain was slowing down as we explored beneath an overcast sky. We parked ...

Birds on the Move

I was out with a group of folks this past weekend in the Lake Champlain Region – in search of shorebirds, marsh birds, and anything else which might be on the move. After all, August is a time of migrants and of birds dispersing after they’ve nested. This sometimes includes birds which are more common to our south – as they slide north on warm, south, summertime winds. That may seem strange when so many birds are...

Birding By Boat

Our birding trip had already been successful when the group I was leading turned its attention to the La Chute River for a canoe trip into...

A Beautiful Day for Birding

I led a birding trip to the southern Champlain Valley the other week, and we started by making a quick stop at the small wetland along Cemetery Road in Keene. One of the participants had found a Willow Flycatcher there a few days earlier. We listened to singing Yellow and Black-and-white Warblers before we found the flycatcher – perched on top of the shrubs and singing its almost sneeze-like Fitz-bew...

First Paddle of the Season!

While we are firmly paddling through warm weather now, it wasn't so long ago that we loaded our canoe for the first ride of the year. Here's a little recap of another great day on the Adirondack Coast.

Wren and I met up with a friend, and after enjoying some birding on dry land, we set out on Scomotion (Dead) Creek just south of...

A Beautiful Day

With the shifting weather patterns of spring comes a changing diversity of birds — seemingly different every day. In an effort to get lucky and find species of note moving into or through the region, I have been outside as often as I can – mostly walking Wren near our home. But when the forecast looked as splendid as it did for a late-April day, it was time for a trip further afield.

Species of Note

...

Birding my way around the lake

While our recent late-season storms have made the North Country look like winter again – as it should look at this time of year, in this climate – spring continues to press upon the landscape and the birds know it. With that in mind, Wren and I took the chance to bird our way back from Vermont the other day. Birding has been great in the Lake Champlain Region all winter, but I was curious to see what...

Spring Weather

With spring pushing winter out faster than many of us would like, it is a good time to explore Ausable Marsh Wildlife Management Area. Wren and I had a chance to do so the other day – she loves to play in the sand at the point during the winter.

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We started by checking out...

Beginning in Vermont

On my return trip from a visit to Vermont the other day, I used the drive to do some birding along the route – there really isn’t any other way to travel. My birding success began in Vermont not far from the Rouses Point Bridge, where I found a Pine Grosbeak in St. Albans, as well as Rough-legged and Red-tailed hawks, and Bald Eagles in Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge. I stopped on...

Starting with Boreal Birds and then off to the Valley

My family recently headed to the Adirondacks to join me for a long weekend of birding. After our success in finding Great Gray Owls in Massena, my brother, his son, and I decided we'd head to the Lake Champlain Region.

Before we left the Saranac Lake region, we thought we'd start with a search for boreal birds. We began at Bloomingdale Bog north of Saranac Lake where the...

Westport Birds

I was out with some folks on the weekend, and after some initial debate we stuck to our plan to bird the Lake Champlain Region - even with the excitement surrounding the Ross’s Gull in Tupper Lake. As usual, we began our day at Westport, watching a flyby Pileated Woodpecker, looking through the small groups of Bufflehead...

A Return Trip

After our success along the Adirondack Coast a couple weeks ago, Wren and I used the recent long weekend to poke around the lake yet again. It was a fantastically sunny – albeit windy - day. As we often do, we started in Westport, which has been quiet the past few weeks. It stayed true to form with a collection of Mallards and American Black Ducks and a flock of Bufflehead at the...

New adventures on a beautiful day

With the beginning of the new year, and a beautiful day in the forecast, Wren and I headed to the Adirondack Coast the other day to see what we could find – it had been too long since we had explored there. We started at Westport like we usually do, and Wren led herself around with her nose while I...

It’s that time of year again

Hard as it is to believe, we have once again cycled through the birding year to the time when Christmas Bird Counts fill our calendars. A few local CBCs were held on Sunday, 12/18/16, including Elizabethtown, Plattsburgh, and also the Vermont Islands count which overlaps across the lake to include the area surrounding Point Au...

Early winter birding along the northern Adirondack Coast

So I’ve heard that the ducks, geese, loons, and other aquatic species in the northern Lake Champlain Region complained because their hangouts weren’t profiled in my recent blog post. The responsible party – whom I’m now realizing is me – has been chastised and I’m...

Where the odd birds are

Finding a diversity of species of waterfowl – or other aquatic species – in the Southern Lake Champlain Regions requires a number of things.
1) You must spend time.
2) You must be patient and work through the shifting flocks which have been arriving from the north.
3) You must be lucky.

Here's where we can help you! Read on to find out how to use your time, diligence, and luck more...

A great place to explore

I was heading to Plattsburgh the other day so I figured I would give myself a few hours to explore in and around AuSable Marsh and AuSable Point. It is a great place along the northern shores of the...

A warm start

It was warm and approaching mid-day when Wren and I took to the La Chute River in Ticonderoga to paddle into Ti Marsh the other day. That’s out of the ordinary for me, as I don’t usually paddle during the heat of the day, but that’s how plans sometimes go. I let Wren take a quick dip so she was cool and wet before we pushed off.

Birding along the La Chute

The river offered shade on our way out which was a...

Birding between the raindrops

After our successful trip to the Four Brothers Islands the other day I looked at the sky, and at the time, and debated the possibilities. Rain was already starting and it was forecast to get worse throughout the day, but it was currently light and intermittent and I had already...

An overcast day on the water

The day was gray and overcast as five birding friends and I set off from Willsboro Marina to visit the Four Brothers Islands in Lake Champlain. I had never been to the islands before, but my friend had set up a trip with a local charter company (which usually takes fishermen) and it seemed like a good opportunity to check the islands out. After all, the Four Brothers are well...

Another spring trip to the Adirondack Coast - or - How I blew off work to go birding

Work to do, but birds to see

A friend of mine called me a few days ago to ask about the ducks that have been congregating near Crown Point for weeks. He was interested in heading there to see them and to take some photos, and as we chatted he began to tempt me for another run to the Adirondack Coast to find them. I...

A follow-up trip

After my successful trip last weekend to the Champlain Valley, I wanted to follow-up to see what I could find as the migration continued to push birds along the lake. While the ducks at Crown Point were once again my main target, I wanted to see what else was around. I started my day at the Westport boat launch like usual. I scanned the water and...

An afternoon in the Valley

I took an afternoon this weekend and headed to the Lake Champlain Region with Wren to see what we could find. There have been a variety of birds arriving in the region and a friend of mine found a Tufted Duck (likely the same bird that was at the Champlain Bridge this winter) in Port Henry a few days earlier. I started in ...

Spring Break on the Adirondack Coast

When most folks think of taking a spring break trip, they often picture warm, sunny places with their toes snuggled deep into the sand. I’ve taken my share of spring trips to such places – landing me in the likes of Florida, Mississippi, and Arizona. But I don’t travel to sit on the beach, go shopping, or lay around the pool. I journey to such places to explore and go birding. So when I go to the...

Ducks at the Bridge

Over the past few weeks there has been a large congregation of ducks at the Champlain Bridge in Crown Point – best viewed from Chimney Point State Historic Site in Vermont. Then, just before Super Bowl Sunday, a drake Tufted Duck was found in the mix, but my schedule of work and other responsibilities...

A Chance to Explore

With long weekends comes more time for Wren and me to get out exploring. So we took advantage of the recent 3-day weekend to not only stretch our cross-country skiing muscles near home but to go birding in the Lake Champlain Region where a growing throng of ducks has settled near the Champlain Bridge. Well, I went birding. Wren was mostly in it for the ride and the chance to nose around through the snow.

...

An unseasonably warm start to winter

Winter has had a difficult time making it to the Adirondacks and the entire northeast this year. A strong El Nino, a jet stream which remains far to the north, and perhaps a dose of climate change have mixed together delivering a concoction of warm air for much longer than many of us would like. Our ski centers were screaming for snow through Christmas and my skis and muscles were getting dusty...

A holiday tradition

During this time of year of lights, shopping, travels and celebrations, birders add an additional item to their busy calendars: Christmas bird counts. The counts began this past Saturday with counts in Plattsburgh and Ferrisburgh, Vermont (this count includes the Westport area). While my busy schedule precluded me from helping with those, the following day was marked by the Vermont...

Heading North to South

I had a few stops to make in the Plattsburgh area this weekend, and after I was finished I took advantage of the trip by birding my way south along Lake Champlain. I started at AuSable Marsh Wildlife Management Area and the marsh was quiet, so I walked out to the beach where I...

Planning Around The Weather

I was looking at the weather for a planned guiding trip and saw our recent cold front poised to dump rain and wind upon us. We moved the trip off to coincide with the windy end of the front when it might push some birds of interest our way. It was good that we did. It rained and rained on our original date but when we met at...

Starting in Westport

I was guiding and birding with a friend last week in the Champlain Valley where we worked a section of lakeshore from Westport to Willsboro. We started at the Westport Boat Launch - where I often begin trips that will focus on that region of the lake. The woods were largely quiet, but as I stood there...

A Chance to Explore

Wren and I were exploring the Adirondack Coast and Ticonderoga Area this past week and as part of our adventure we paddled Ticonderoga Marsh. Our trip started off well as a Merlin raced above us as we put-in at the Town of Ticonderoga Recreation Park. We nosed our bow quietly down the La Chute River waving to a few fishermen, who, if we can believe their fish stories, told us they were having good success.

...

Time for a Trip to Chazy

With August in full swing, it was time for me to take a trip to the Chazy Riverlands to check what shorebirds may be migrating through the area along Lake Champlain. I had a bit of a late start, but I like the afternoon and evening at Chazy anyway. I brought my boat since access to Chazy comes by paddling down along the marshes from...

Another ATBI!

This year the Adirondack All-Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI) took place in the Essex and Willsboro area of the Champlain Valley and I again helped with it. ATBIs, or Bioblitzes as they are often called, are conducted by naturalists and citizen scientists to help survey and document the diversity of the natural world around us. They are also events where naturalists from different disciplines can meet and learn from...

Time for Another Trip to the Valley

With spring pressing in on all sides, I had been itching to get to the Champlain Valley again to catch migrant and arriving birds while I could. When I found out that a Pink-footed Goose – a European rarity – had been found not far from the Champlain Bridge in Vermont, I contacted a friend to see if he wanted to go look for it. I had seen a Pink-footed in New Jersey in January and this could have...

Searching for Open Water

This past weekend I took advantage of some warmer weather to head to the Champlain Valley for some birding. I’m leading a birdwatching trip in a week and a half and I wanted to scope things out ahead of time. Chief among my concerns was the lack of water, or more correctly, the dominance of ice on the water’s surface. The Essex-Charlotte Ferry recently shut down temporarily due to the ice conditions and that...

A Rare and Exciting Find

It was exciting news, although frustratingly so since I couldn’t do anything about it at the time: my friend had texted me that he had found a white-phase Gyrfalcon on the frozen waters of Lake Champlain in Plattsburgh. However, I was out of town and had become quite sick, I needed to wait to heal up before I could go looking for the bird. Other birders did search over the ensuing days, yet none of them came...

Winter Birding in the Valley

While winter offers us fewer species of birds than does the summer, winter birding is no less interesting as a variety of species from the north come into our area to enjoy our relatively balmy temperatures (when compared to the arctic). I guided a few recent birding trips into the Champlain Valley and while each was a success, the composition of the species we found varied from day to day. For instance,...

A Holiday Tradition

Christmas Bird Counts (CBCs) have now started across the country and on Sunday I was out with a friend helping count birds in the area surrounding Point Au Roche north of Plattsburgh. This one is actually part of a count of the islands of northern Lake Champlain in Vermont, but the count circle overlaps the state boundary. After a week filled with snowy, windy, and overcast weather, we had lucked out with a good...

A Great Day to go Birding in the Valley

While the late fall in our region has been marked by a string of snowy days and wintry weather – which may portend a good ski season – I was happy to have a sunny (if cold) day on the weekend to head out for some birding in the Champlain Valley. I had been in and out of town and I hadn’t been able to make it to some of my favorite spots in the Valley for a while so I was excited to see what...

Putting in on the LaChute River

Wren and I completed a camping trip this past October with a paddle into Ticonderoga Marsh, a beautiful stretch of cattails and mucky edges formed where the LaChute River flows into Lake Champlain. There are two chief ways to access the marsh. The first is to put in at the...

Far from home 

The phone call caught me by surprise. I was out walking with Wren on a recent Saturday, when my friend called to tell me that a Brown Booby had been discovered at the Crown Point Bridge. The Caribbean species was a long, long way from home and I packed up some birding gear and headed down to Crown Point.

There was a small gaggle of birders flocked at Crown Point State Historic Site looking through their scopes...

            Wren and I visited AuSable Marsh and AuSable Point the other day to look for birds and take a walk.  Even though our goal was to look for waterfowl, our first bird was a Merlin flying fast and low along the road as we were arriving.  The small falcon turned toward the road and came directly over our car!  Merlins tend to make beelines between their destinations and this bird seemed to know exactly where it was headed.  By the time...

            I did a little birding and hiking with Wren in Point AuRoche earlier this week.  We started around Cumberland Head just north of Plattsburgh, checking out the mouth of the Saranac River and the Ferry Terminal.  There was a mixture of open water and ice at the river mouth, but there were very few birds besides a handful of Mallards and a lone American Black Duck.  The ferry terminal was equally quiet as the open water of the lake...

  Searching for Raptors (and other predatory birds) in the Magic Triangle          

Earlier this week some friends and I drove over to what some birders call the Magic Triangle located between Westport and Essex. We were looking for raptors and other field birds, and there had been reports of a Snowy Owl in the area and we were hoping to see and possibly photograph it. 

            Our sightings of predatory...

            Our invasion of Snowy Owls in the Northeast continues.  Snowies are being found up and down the Atlantic seaboard with large numbers in places like coastal Massachusetts and New Jersey, where I saw four while visiting family over the holidays.  In the past week in our region alone a Snowy Owl was found along Moffit Road in Plattsburgh, at least one and perhaps two Snowies in the fields around Westport, another Snowy in Massena,...

            Over the holidays I took a trip to the Champlain Valley for some birding. I started at the Westport boat launch where there were a few species of ducks assembled including Bufflehead, Common Mergansers, and Common Goldeneye.  The area around the wastewater treatment plant held it usual flock of gulls as well as a few ducks, but it was fairly quiet.  I did find a small group of flyover Cedar Waxwings – still lingering from the fall...

            We have reached the time of year when birders everywhere span out across the landscape and conduct Christmas Bird Counts.  This past weekend’s winter storm was cancelling, postponing, and threatening many counts held on Saturday and Sunday and so a friend and I went up to Plattsburgh on Saturday to scout and look for count week birds should the Plattsburgh count (held on Sunday) be cancelled or compromised due to the weather.  It...

            This weekend found me in the Champlain Valley birding with some friends, taking advantage of the nice weather.  We found 46 species of birds – not a bad tally for a December day.  We started our day at Westport where the boat launch had a small collection of ducks and large numbers of Canada Geese.  We searched through the geese for something different in their midst, but found nothing out of the ordinary.  We moved up the road to...

            With our current arctic freeze bearing down on us this weekend, my friend and I jumped on the last warm(ish) day in the forecast and headed to the Champlain Valley for some birding.  We didn’t find much of interest at Cumberland Head north of Plattsburgh so we headed north to Point AuRoche to check out the enormous numbers of Snow Geese which have been assembled there. 

            On the way, we drove up Moffit Road to...

            Over the past couple years I’ve occasionally seen a Red Fox in my neighborhood.  I first noted fox scats on the rocks which border my steps – something which caught Wren’s attention as well.  Sometimes when something out of the ordinary has visited the yard I can tell by how excited Wren is when I let her out first thing in the morning.  I finally had my first sighting of the fox as it was crossing the street and I have seen it...

            I went looking for Snow Geese in the Champlain Valley the other day with one simple goal– find the flocks of Snow Geese that were staging there on their way south and search them for a Ross’s Goose.  I started at Point AuRoche State Park where I went to the beach and let Wren run around the large open field while I scoped through the five or six hundred or so Snow Geese gathered along the beach.  There were also a good number of...

            I had to be in Plattsburgh at the beginning of the week and so I took the opportunity and a beautiful day to go birding in the area in the afternoon.  My goal was to check out an immature Sandhill Crane which had been found a few days earlier.  The bird was discovered hanging out along Moffit Road a little north of Plattsburgh, feeding in some recently plowed farm fields. 

            When I arrived the bird was feeding...

            My friend and I spent some time birding in the Champlain Valley on Saturday.  It was chilly and overcast early and we did have to tuck into the car during some cold showers and wind later in the day, but we still had a successful time out.  We started at Westport, and while there weren’t many birds at the boat launch besides a few Bufflehead, we found quite a few gulls and Canada Geese at the wastewater treatment plant.  There...

            While I was out birding a couple weeks ago with friends, we found good numbers of rusty blackbirds.  The first birds we noted were in some state land north of Westport in Webb Royce Swamp.  Rusty’s spend most of their time in such wetlands – both breeding in the north, and during the winter months in the southeast.  The birds we found were migrating on their way south – during which time the birds still often use wetlands.  We...

            The other day, my friends and I were checking out what some birders call the Magic Triangle, just north of Westport.  We poked around along a series of hedgerows and fields, finding good sized flocks of red-winged blackbirds, yellow-rumped warblers and white-throated sparrows, but not much else.  We chatted with a couple deer hunters who were returning empty handed, and the one suggested he was going to come back in a few days to...

            This past weekend I went birding in the Champlain Valley with some friends and one of our stops was at Noblewood Park in Willsboro.  Noblewood’s sandy spit may be best known for attracting shorebirds during the late summer, but we were interested in anything that might be stopping through on a fall day, beginning our time with a pileated woodpecker at the parking area.  We often see them in the tall trees at Noblewood. 

...

            My friends and I checked out a few spots in the Champlain Valley this weekend for birds.  We had hoped to find a variety of migrants heading south, and while that didn’t materialize, we did find a few nice birds.  We had a bit of a late start after birding in the Lake Placid area in the morning, but we headed north to the Chazy Riverlands to look for shorebirds. 

            Chazy did not have large numbers of shorebirds,...

            Last week I checked out Noblewood Park in Willsboro for late summer birds.  Noblewood’s sandy spit attracts a variety of species such as gulls and shorebirds at this time of year, and I wanted to see if anything of note was there.  There had also been a report of an immature little gull at Noblewood and I wanted to see if it was still around. 

            There were many gulls on the spit when I arrived including herring,...

            Over the past few weeks, local birders have been heading to Chazy Landing to an area where the Great and Little Chazy Rivers empty into Lake Champlain.  The rivers create a small set of mudflats and wet meadows, and since shorebird habitat is difficult to come by in the region, the small area attracts a wide variety of species.  And while the location is on private land, interested birders can put in a canoe at the boat launch at...

            I was again birding with friends this past weekend in the Champlain Valley, and one of the places we stopped was at Noblewood Park in Willsboro.  Noblewood has a nice forest of mixed deciduous trees and eastern hemlock and we found a few woodland birds such as tufted titmouse and red-eyed vireo on our walk there.  But we weren’t particularly interested in woodland birds anyway. 

            The attraction of Noblewood to...

            A friend and I went birding in the Champlain Valley this past weekend looking for late summer birds.  All told we found better than 70 species and started our day at the Westport boat launch.  There we found a horned grebe in splendid breeding plumage – its yellow tufts and rufous neck looking great in the sunlight.  We generally only find horned grebes during the cold months when they are in their black and white winter plumage...

The other week while I was out hiking and birding with friends, we saw a great horned owl fly silently through a clearing and disappear back into the woods. I was screened by trees in the forest, but could see the owl's big head (my friend calls them jughead as a result) and broad wings, leaving no doubt what it was. My friends and I quickly turned around and tried to find it in the trees. We didn't need to do so.

As we walked a few...

The timing of bird migration is a tricky thing to predict. Over the past two weeks, I've seen a variety of migrants passing through the area – including some nice species in my yard. But reports of many species are still few and far between, and other species are absent altogether. It is still early for many species after all.

At the beginning of this week Kendra and I ventured to Crown Point to check out the bird banding station which...

The Lake Champlain valley presents one of the best opportunities for North Country birdwatchers to see waterfowl as well as a variety of other species not as common in the mountains. After all the valley offers a north-south corridor to migrating birds – particularly waterfowl – and we took a trip there on the final day in March to see what we could find as spring migration was getting started. Waterfowl migrate earlier than most spring...

A friend and I took a day this past weekend to go down to the Champlain Valley for some birding. We started at the Westport boat launch, where there was a nice group of ducks assembled. As ice has advanced north from the Champlain Bridge in Crown Point, the large group of ducks that was once there has been pushed into the open water further north in the lake. At Westport we found mallards, black ducks, common goldeneye, hooded and common...

I wrote last week about the collection of ducks hanging out in Port Henry and around the Lake Champlain Bridge, and wanted to give an update for those interested in checking them out.

I drove down to the lake again this weekend and found everything was still there. The most productive location for both numbers and diversity was just on the Vermont side of the Champlain Bridge. I had thousands of ducks there including common merganser,...