Flora & Fauna on the Lake

Birds, Plants, and Animals in the Watershed

Diving Osprey (above), and a perching Black Crowned Night Heron (below)

The muskrat is an amazing swimmer (below). 

What native plants can  be found around the lake?

Perhaps the most prolific of the shrubs to be found around Kirk Lake are Mountain Laurel, most prominent along the DEP shoreline (see map link on left).  These flowering shrubs are covered with beautiful 1" white flowers with fine pink highlights in the months of May and June.  Many cultivated varieties are available at local nurseries for landscaping your yard. 

In June 2008, one small clump of native Iris were spotted in flower.  The purple blooms are smaller than the cultivated variety you may have in your garden, but seeing these on the lake shore is quite a treat.

Local trees include scrub oaks, maples, and beech. 

Consider using native plants in your landscape.  For more information, visit the Native Plant Center at Valhalla, NY.

What animals live around the lake?

Kirk lake is home to ground hogs, muskrats, raccoons, squirrels, skunks, and bats, among others.  Muskrat have been cited as recently as July 2008.  Despite the name, they are not to be feared.  Muskrats are semi-aquatic and can swim underwater, propelled by their long flat tails and semi-webbed feet for up to 15 minutes on a single breath!  They tend to live in burrows under the lake's shoreline, though they may borrow beaver lodges or even build their own in marshy wetlands. 

What birds can be seen on Kirk Lake?

There is an incredible variety of birds to be seen.  Aside from year round "residents,"  many species migrate through the area, and lakes such as ours are prime feeding spots en route to summer or winter breeding grounds.  

Great Blue Herons are perhaps the most dramatic species to be seen.  These stork-like birds are very shy, and best seen through binoculars -- if you can spot them.   They like to stand in shallow water and fish with a quick spearing action of their long beaks and very long necks!  It's quite a treat to see one make a catch!

Black Crowned Night Herons are a smaller relative; like their bigger cousins, they like to fish, and as their name suggests, they tend to come out at dusk.  Members Richard and Pamela Stanley have seen three of these Night Herons over the past several years. 

Another dramatic local includes the Pileated Woodpecker.  A pair of Pileateds was seen on the lake in July 2008.

In the winter of 2006-2007, a bald eagle was sited by several residents on Lakeside Road, feasting on a deer carcass that was frozen into the ice!  Other recent sitings include ospreys, a type of hawk that fishes by diving into the water, "feet" first and grabbing fish with its sharp talons.  Ospreys have been seen for a day or two each year as they migrate through the area. 

Here are some other photos, take by Judy Ravnitzky, of some visitors to her yard (thanks, Judy!).  From top to bottom, they are: a crow and a turkey vulture; three mallards (amongst birds, the males are usually the more colorful); and a pileated woodpecker.

 Photos courtesy of Judy Ravnitzky