Saturday, July 7th: This morning we made a last minute change of plan, and ended up hiking the trail to Greeley Lakes from the Kancamagus Highway. This was a relatively easy hike at about 4.6 miles round trip and 400 feet elevation gain. It was also a very nice hike. We moved vigorously up the hill toward Upper Greeley Lake, with Ann doing a little running. Nonetheless, we stopped a couple of times for birds. The lake itself was very nice. It first appeared perhaps 30 feet below the trail and we later viewed it from a few locations along the shore.
|Upper Greeley Lake|
The north shore of Lower Greeley Lake is a short downhill hike from the south shore of the upper lake. It features a wonderful bog at the north end. We soon found a number of bird species near the bog. I heard the first of several singing Blackburnian Warblers. Then what was to be Ann's life Canada Warbler flew right by her. She quickly tracked it down and we both got views of a young Canada. Ann ended up seeing 4 of them today, including one along the Kancamagus Highway near Lily Pond late in the day.
As we viewed the bog, it dawned on me that the blackbird I was hearing was not a Red-winged, but rather a Rusty Blackbird. I was able to locate it, and we eventually encountered several along the lake.
|Bog at Lower Greeley Lake||Purple Pitcher Plant|
A number of Empidonax flycatchers were also present, including young. They seemed to be mostly or entirely Least Flycatchers, although it is possible some were Yellow-bellied Flycatchers. Reading in BNA, I find that Least commonly occurs in clusters on their breeding grounds and that they are quite aggressive at excluding competing species. I expect they were all Least Flycatchers, at least 8 of them. The range of plumages was quite astonishing.
We found Lower Greeley Lake to be quite birdy as we walked to the end. Ann eventually spotted a female Blackburnian Warbler, and soon after we finally saw one of the Black-throated Blue Warblers we'd been hearing.
The birds kept us moving slowly on the return. A mysterious very streaky bird turned out to be a young Northern Waterthrush. We also found a Brown Creeper in a flock between the trailhead and Upper Greeley Lake. We spent so much time looking at birds that this short 4.6 mile hike ended up taking us over 5 hours!
We then drove to Lincoln where we had lunch at Truant's Tavern. It was late in the day that we arrived at the Flume in Franconia Notch. We first watched the film, and did not enter the grounds until after 5pm (there's no entry after 5:30, but you can stay as late as you like). This was good as the crowds had thinned by then. The Flume is a busy park, and the ranger told us that the entry fees here pay for most of the New Hampshire state park system.
Not only was the flume enjoyable, but we did a fair amount of birding later in the day. We saw a couple more Blackburnian Warblers. We also noticed many Red Squirrels and Eastern Chipmunks. Late in the day a number of Chipmunks were sitting on top of boulders and chipping.
The Flume itself is a narrow gorge cut through the granite by the Pemigewasset. It ranges from 12-20 feet in width and 70-90 feet deep. Evidently, the gorge was originally filled by intrusive magma, which the Pemigewasset has mostly removed to create the gorge. It rather reminded me of some of the gorges of the Finger Lakes (Enfield Glen comes particularly to mind) and some on a bit larger scale in the Adirondacks (High Falls Gorge, Ausable Chasm), but it has its own unique character. We agreed that it was well worth the $15 per person entry fee.
|Approaching the Flume||The Flume||Waterfall at the Flume|
Our last stop of the day was at Lily Pond along the Kancamagus Highway. Other people gathered there were hoping to spot a Moose (there were tracks), but if it arrived, it was after we left. Ann found her 4th Canada Warbler of the day. Pretty good for a bird that was a lifer this morning. The sun was no longer visible above the ridge when we left and returned to N. Conway.
We found 35 species today. Our current total for the trip is 115 species of bird, and 9 species of mammal.
Golden Gables Inn, North Conway, New Hampshire