Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Lakeview Wildlife Management Area, Part One

Hello fellow kayakers waiting for spring!  I know, it's only February.... for Northern New York, that means we have 2 solid months of winter left.  (We really can't count the snow and cold "out" until April and it's even been known to snow here on Mother's Day!)

I am hoping the photo storage issue has resolved itself.  It may have been a Blogger glitch... we'll see how it goes.

Here is Brody, checking out the scenery on beautiful South Sandy Creek, part of Lakeview Wildlife Management Area, which is next to Lake Ontario.  This awesome spot is just off Route 3 at the bridge crossing the creek.  There is a parking lot, an outhouse, a few picnic tables and a trail to walk if you'd like.  The put-in is fairly level, depending on how much water's in the creek.

I have TONS of Lakeview WM photos since we've been there 4 or 5 times.  There are lots of reasons it's one of our favorite spots.  Usually we prefer the "waters less paddled," but this is a popular place that is still in our top three despite the number of paddlers.  It's easy to get to, it has such varied scenery-- the creek spills into ponds and there is an outlet to Lake Ontario-- and because it's protected, we see a lot of wildlife, especially if we get there early enough in the day.

Our latest paddle here was in July 2012. All of the photos, unless noted, were taken during that paddle.  Our daughter and her partner were visiting from Michigan.  Since they own kayaks, we were able to paddle about 4 times during the week they were here.

 Below is a shot of them with my husband, paddling downstream from the put-in.  I love the trees here.  I believe they are alders.  Their bark is dark and their leaves bright shades of green.  Some older/larger ones used to hang completely out over the creek so that it looked like you were paddling through a tunnel of green.  Some of those are now gone, due to very high water one year-- the older trees just couldn't hang on to the eroded banks.  But it is still very pretty as you paddle down the creek. 

The creek is widening out at this bend, and we'll soon be in the marsh area which runs along several of the ponds. It was a perfect day for kayaking!

We took a few photos of our family in front of the dead tree.  Brody watched intently as his daddy maneuvered his kayak to get set up for the photo.

A bit further downstream, the land flattens out more, and there is a huge marsh with numerous channels (some that lead nowhere!) branching off from the creek, and later, branching off the ponds.  Still on the creek, there are spots with barely any current which are shallow enough for these pretty water lilies to grow. Brody likes their scent as much as I do!

As you can see, the creek is wider as we head toward the ponds and Lake Ontario.

Around another bend in the creek, we saw some dead branches above a shorter tree. I followed the flight of a bird crossing in front of us (a football field length away) and got excited-- it looked like an eagle!  He/She landed on the exposed branches, far away from us. But with his white head and tail feathers, there was no doubt about it.  I took photos, but since the eagle is smaller than Brody's ears in the photo above, I won't post any of them.  We were so excited to see the eagle, and even more pleased that our daughter and her partner were there to share the moment with us!

That wasn't the only exciting wildlife viewing of the day.  Check out the photo below.  She blends in perfectly with the reddish brown foliage in the background, but if you look closely at the very center of the photo, you will see her head-- ears up.  Yes, it's a doe, swimming across the creek.  We've seen deer at the water's edge, but this was the first time we saw one swimming.  It took her only seconds to cross the creek (I scrambled for my camera and barely got this one shot off) and climb up onto the bank.  She was gone in less than 15 seconds.

There were many dead tree "sculptures" along the way, as the photo below proves.  We saw many turtles sunning themselves as we paddled by these and other dead branches in the creek. Often a bird or two were also hanging out higher up on the branches.

It's about 3 miles from the put-in to the Lake Ontario outlet, but the great thing about this section of Lakeview Wildlife Management Area is that there are three connecting ponds and several other channels to paddle, heading north.  That means you could spend many hours paddling this section without having to take your boat out of the water.  There aren't many places to pull out along the creek or ponds but the sandbar along Lake Ontario is perfect for a rest and a picnic.

 Here is Brody checking out the farther bank.  I  believe there were bank swallows going into their holes at this spot.  It's interesting to note that the birds make their nest in holes they create at an upward angle so that rain doesn't run into the nest.  We enjoyed watching them fly to the hole then disappear, and evidently, so did Brody!

I'll end part one of the blog on Lakeview Wildlife Management Area with this photo of the ponds area, just before the outlet to Lake Ontario.

Join me here for Part Two where I'll describe more of our paddle and hopefully help you beat the winter blues that have to be setting in for those of us in the Northeast!