Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wonalancet, NH 10/4

After sticking close to home for some great birding on Saturday, I left home at 5AM for Wonalancet, NH to hike Mt. Whiteface and Mt. Passaconanway, in the Sandwich Range of the White Mountain National Forest.
I had hoped to be on the trail by 8:30, but I made a few quick stops, one to photo 3 horses in Sandwich, the moment I stopped the friendly trio came right to me. A few miles later, I stopped along a wetland to scan for birds and wildlife, there were Chipping, Song, Swamp and White-throated Sparrows, along with a few Yellow-rumped Warblers, Eastern Phoebes and Blue-headed Vireo.
Some nice color along Rte 113 in Sandwich, NH.

"You gonna eat those carrots"?
Upon arriving at Wonalancet, which consists of a picturesque meeting house and hay fields, I noticed 3 American Kestrels perched on the wires., I heard a "ki-ki-ki" call from behind and out came a Sharp-shinned hawk, which briefly tangled with one of the kestrels and took a swipe at a Flicker a moment later.

There is not much in Wonalancet, I suspect that is exactly how the locals like it!

The scene on the walk from the parking area to the trail head.
I started out on the Blueberry Ledge Trail where some Juncos, Black-capped Chickadees and both Kinglets species were seen and heard. Shortly after I took the Blueberry Ledge Cut-off trail which lead to Dicey's Mill Trail and that to the steep Tom Wiggin Trail, which "climbs" 1450' in 1.1 miles before rejoining to the Blueberry Ledge trail. On the upper section of this trail I came across a Winter Wren, Blackpoll Warbler, Yellow-rumps, a few Blue-headed Vireos, a group of Boreal Chickadees and both species of Kinglets. Conditions were calm, insects were out, and I found pockets of birds throughout the hike.

The scene along the rugged Tom Wiggins Trail, "nothing but up".
Once rejoining the BB Ledge Trail there were a few scrambles over some ledge and some nice views. An imposing white dog (but friendly), followed 3 Virginia hikers (whom I met later) from the trailhead (nearly 4 miles), they named it "Whiteface". It couldn't make it up one of the steeper "scrambles" and quit following the "southern trio".

Looking east from the ledges below the summit of Whiteface.

"Whiteface" the dog.
While the actual summit of Whiteface is "treed in", there are several nice vistas nearby.
Looking west from the ledges of Whiteface.

Mt. Passaconaway from Mt. Whiteface, looking across the Research Bowl.

From the Whiteface summit I took the Rollings Trail which after a few miles connects with upper section of Dicey's Mill Trail, for a steep climb to the summit of Passaconaway.

While it didn't rain during the trip, there were a few gloomy moments.
Passaconaway is another summit with no view, BUT there are 2 nice "lookouts" close by and another, the North Vista, at the end of a 0.3 mile spur trail. Well....I could spent forever at this North Vista, I had it for myself for 20 minutes, during which time a Sharp-shinned Hawk and an American Kestrel passed. Judging by the bulge in the "shin's" throat, some careless songbird was making the south bound migration Rodney Dangerfield once said..."The hard way".
Eventually the "Virginia boys" showed and we all had a nice conversation, they being avid hikers, one had thru-hiked the "AT" a few years ago, another seemed to be working on every concievable "peak list" in the east, the 3rd was carrying a very large video camera to document their trip.
From the North Vista of Passaconaway , Church Pond to the left and signs of a previous clear cut just below the pond and logging roads, or prehaps the beginnings of mysterious "logger crop circles".

Looking North East, the rocky knob in the lower left is Hedgehog Mtn., I have never been there but I understand the views are great...of course the view from up here wasn't too bad either :-)

A "digi-bin" shot of Mt. Chorcura.

The afternoon was getting late and I'd now have to make "good" time to make back by dark, I had a little cushion of time but not having hiked these I trails I prefered not to resort to ending with the headlamp on.
After a short distance on the Walden trail, was a fine view to the south into the Lakes Region and the area between Passaconaway, Whiteface and Walden Mtns known as the "Reasearch Bowl" area that was suposedly never logged.
Looking down into the Research Bowl area, below the summit of Passaconaway, the NH Lakes Region is in the distance.
Mt. Wonalancet lower left, Winnipesaukee on the horizon.
I did end up missing a trail and had to go over Walden Mtn., but fortunately it only added a 1/2 mile and lead to the Old Mast Road Trail that lead right back to the car!

Looking at a "slide" on the west side Mt. Paugus.
The scene from along rte 113A just a mile from the trailhead, Mt. Whiteface (Left), Mt. Wonalancet (forground) and Passaconaway's peak is just ...well peeking...over a lower Mt. just above left of the barn.

A close up of Whiteface (left) and Wonalancet as fog rises from the hay and some nice splashes of color too. Last winter I had chased a Hawk owl and Hoary Redpoll in this general area and got a nice winter photo, from a different perspective, of Whiteface, Passaconaway and subordnate peaks HERE.
A Bird list from the hike (only), numbers are approximate:

Species....Number reported
Sharp-shinned Hawk...1
American Kestrel...1
Downy Woodpecker...1
Hairy Woodpecker...2
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted)...4
Blue-headed Vireo...5
Blue Jay...20
American Crow...4
Common Raven...2
Black-capped Chickadee...15
Boreal Chickadee...12
Red-breasted Nuthatch...5
White-breasted Nuthatch...1
Brown Creeper...1
Winter Wren...3
Golden-crowned Kinglet...20
Ruby-crowned Kinglet...15
Hermit Thrush...1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)...15
Blackpoll Warbler....2
White-throated Sparrow....50
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)...20
American Goldfinch....2


Kim said...

Sounds like a great hike and you got fantastic photos Tom. The floating clouds and all of the beautiful foliage shows New England at its best. You found some some really decent birds too. I will get a Boreal Chickadee even if I have to venture out of Central MA for it! ;-)

Whiteface seemed to have taken a liking to you. Let me guess...KFC?

Tom Pirro said...

Hi Kim,

It was a very nice hike, a longish one too,about 12 miles and plenty of climbing. Boreal Chickadees do make it to Mass....on occassion. Of course they are fairly common in the thick spruces in the white Mtns and northern NH.

No KFC for "Whiteface" he was friendly, he fllowed the 3 hikers from Va. for nearly 4 miles...hopefully h found his way back home.

Hey saw your post on fall warblers, I think if you study your field guides and get in the field to bird as much as possible things will "fall into place" and not seem so "confusing".