Exciting Adirondack Opportunities for Big Atlas Weekend

Matthew Medler

Hi All,

If you're interested in participating in the upcoming Big Atlas Weekend, and you also like to travel to the Adirondacks each summer to enjoy that region's specialty breeders, we have a couple of exciting trip ideas to share!

The first-ever Big Atlas Weekend will be held next weekend, June 25-27, and offers a variety of ways to participate and be eligible to win exciting prizes from the Cornell Lab's Bird Academy. Some of the goals of the Big Atlas Weekend are to: encourage visits to priority blocks that are currently unvisited; increase coverage in priority blocks with only a few hours of coverage; and highlight the importance of nocturnal visits to priority blocks. 

The Moose River Plains in Hamilton County offer outstanding boreal birding opportunities for species like Boreal Chickadee, Canada Jay, Black-backed Woodpecker, Swainson's Thrush, and more. The Moose River Plains are also home to several priority atlas blocks that are completely unvisited or have just a few hours of effort after Atlas Year 1. There are over 100 primitive campsites in the area, so if you enjoy camping and birding, this is a great place to go. Note that these campsites are all available on a first-come first-served basis. There is also lodging available in nearby Inlet and Old Forge.

The DEC website has detailed information about the Moose River Plains here:

There are two unvisited priority blocks accessible from the main Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road (a.k.a. the Moose River Plains Road) that traverses the area: Wakely Mountain CE and Mount Tom CE. This road also passes through the Snowy Mountain NW priority block, which is in need of additional diurnal effort (and nocturnal effort).

The popular Ferd's Bog birding hotspot is located a short distance from the Moose River Plains. Ferd's Bog is not located in a priority block, but if you're spending the weekend in the area, it's always worth a visit!

The Nature Conservancy's Spring Pond Bog Preserve is one of the crown jewels of the Adirondacks. It is one of the last strongholds of Spruce Grouse in New York State, and it also hosts other special boreal breeding species like Boreal Chickadee, Black-backed Woodpecker, Canada Jay, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, and Palm Warbler. Special permission is required to visit the preserve. To request a guest pass, please email adirondacks@.... Due to COVID-19 office closures, TNC's response may be delayed, so be sure to contact them as far in advance as possible.

A good portion of the Spring Pond Bog Preserve lies within the unvisited Derrick NW priority block. If you plan a trip to the preserve for atlasing and birding purposes, please be sure to pay careful attention to block boundaries and strive to create either stationary counts or short traveling checklists to make sure that all observations from a checklist fall within a single atlas block.

Spring Pond Bog is located a bit north of the Village of Tupper Lake, which offers restaurants and a few lodging options. The village is also located in the Tupper Lake NW priority block, so if you spend any time there, be sure to submit some checklists and keep an eye out for opportunities to confirm common species.

There are also two major DEC campgrounds in the Spring Pond Bog / Tupper Lake area: Rollins Pond and Fish Creek Pond. These two campgrounds both require reservations through the Reserve America website. The Rollins Pond campground is located in the Derrick CE priority block, so a weekend of camping at Rollins Pond and birding at Rollins Pond and Spring Pond Bog could yield excellent birding and a great contribution to atlas efforts!

If you have any questions about Big Atlas Weekend, or if you make plans to visit either of the areas that we've highlighted above, please email us at nybba3.northern@....

Good birding,
Matt Medler, Jeff Bolsinger, and Tom Wheeler
Atlas Regional Co-coordinators for Northern New York