Herons, Turtles and Cormorants, Oh My!

During the month of July we are celebrating Canandaigua Lake, so the FLM&A adventure team set out on the West River for a leisurely afternoon paddle. This lazy stream flows through the Hi Tor Wildlife Management Area, into the southern end of Canandaigua Lake, with three possible launch sites:

1) West River Fishing Access Site. Look for the signs off Rt. 245 north out of Naples and left onto Sunnyside Road - this is a dirt/grass launch site. From here it is about a 4 mile paddle to the lake.

2) Off Rt. 245 (north of Naples) look for the DEC sign for Hi Tor Wildlife Management Area – West River Unit . This site has an EZ Launch® Accessible Transfer System, an ADA compliant launch that provides individuals with disabilities accessibility.

3) NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) launch site on Rt. 21, with a large parking area, in Woodville. This launch is at the southern end of Canandaigua Lake; West River will be across the lake a bit to your right.

We began our journey at the middle of the three launch points, the EZ Launch dock. The launch's rollers and grab bars provide a safe and stable way to get in and out of kayaks and canoes. We did find that the area surrounding the launch is currently covered with a thick green algae that does not smell very pleasant. On a brighter note, the smell is quickly left behind in the few strokes it takes to reach open river water. There is no running water at this launch site so we highly recommend that you pack a couple extra containers of water in your vehicle. You will need it to rinse off your boat at the end of your paddle.

As we paddled down this quiet river the hills, trees, lush green lily pads and cattails along the banks surrounding us created an almost other-world feeling. We encountered only one other human but every bend along the way revealed a heron or turtles as well as many different species of song birds.

When we approached the lake the soft call of the Cedar Waxwings, and the Red-winged Blackbird's conk-la-ree, was replaced by the roar of watercraft motors. We stopped for just a few moments where the inlet meets the lake and watched as over a dozen Cormorants, perched in a large dead tree, groomed their feathers and rested. The Cormorants main activities are fishing and resting and, according to All About Birds, they spend more than half their day on the latter. As we turned away to head back into the quiet West River I wondered if the folks racing around the lake knew what a peaceful, beautiful area lay just beyond those prehistoric-looking fishing birds.

"Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints. Kill nothing but time"

Click on photos to enlarge

Photos by Helen Heizyk

All about Cormorants:

Hi Tor Wildlife Management Area:

West River Marsh:

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