Inlet is for the birds... and for the bird-watchers.
If you are looking for Mourning Warblers, the area along the Wheeler Pond Loop Snowmobile Trail north of Old Forge is a good place to go. Leave Route 28 at the Subway Shop, go north on North Street past the soccer fields on your left, which have nesting Bluebirds, then go off the paved road at the airport.
Listen for Common Snipe winnowing — that's the sound made by their tail feathers while in flight — in the air over the North Branch of the Moose River. Continue on crossing the river, and in that low area are Yellow Warbler, Gray Catbird, American Bittern and Alder Flycatcher.
Just after crossing the flat area, take your first right. You are now on part of the Wheeler Pond loop. Listen for singing Mourning, Black-throated Green, Black-throated Blue, and Blackburnian warblers anywhere along this loop. The Mourning Warblers are hiding in the blackberry patches along this trail. Normally, there are about five pairs here.
About a half mile out on the right side of the trail, the woods drop off sharply into the bog swamp along the Moose River. In this area there are Yellow-bellied and Olive-sided flycathers. Red-breasted Nuthatch, Gray Jay, and Black-backed Woodpecker. Continue along this trail and you'll hit the main trail. Go right here for a short ways down a small hill to a spot where you can look out on the open bog for the birds listed above. Now turn around and continue west to complete the Wheeler Pond loop.
Follow the railroad tracks, which are on your right most of the way, until you hit the North Street extension, where you can go south (left) back to the beginning. There are also some neat butterflies in this area, including Baltimore Checkerspot, American Copper, Red and White Admiral, Great Spangled Fritillary, Common Wood Nymph, and Northern Pearly-eye.
Another good area for boreal birds is along the Stillwater Road, from Big Moose to Stillwater Reservoir. Just after leaving the Big Moose Station and the paved road, move onto a gravel road, which continues all the way to Stillwater. A short distance down this road there is a neat bog where some boreal birds can be seen and some owl calls can often be heard. Most of the area along this road for the first several miles is posted property, so birding has to be done from the road. There are several old log landings along this road, and by driving slowly and listening you can locate most of them.
At 4.1 miles, just after driving through open gravel pits on both sides of the road, you come to a bog called Pollack Swamp. Most of the boreal birds have been recorded here, including a Northern Three-toed Woodpecker with young in 2005. Further up the road you hit state land at 8 miles, and there are several nice boggy areas at 8.3 and 8.4 miles on the left . The surface of these bogs may not be safe to walk on, but birding from the road and bog edges is possible. Look for Palm Warbler, a nester in these areas, plus the other boreal birds.
Text provided by Gary Lee
Recommended Birding Excursions:
Download a map of bird watching spots, or pick one up at the Inlet Information Office.