Saturday, May 7, 2022

Spring cleaning in the Adirondacks: Yard work and clearing blowdowns and debris from trails

Well, it froze every morning this week, and even spit some snow, but nothing stuck here. They had spring skiing at both Whiteface and Gore Mountains this weekend which must have been a late season for both. I worked around the yard, saw a few blackflies in the air, and they bombed me a few times. Better get out those hummer feeders soon, as last year they came here on May 4. That’s not an early date, but more than a week earlier than the year before. They almost always get here before Mother’s Day, and I’ve had to thaw out the feeders more than once to keep them going. Even with these cold temperatures some of the little wildflowers have popped out such as trout lily, coltsfoot, and spring beauty.

Karen will be watching for them as I will be at the Crown Point Banding Station camping out and banding birds, I hope. Lots of little birds have already moved up from the south and we may have missed them. I’ve been out and about all week and have only heard one warbler so far (make that two)…a Pine Warbler was one of the first to arrive and they will feed on suet [hard fat around the kidneys and loins in beef and mutton.] A Yellow Rumped Warbler (a butter butt) was calling along the Moss Lake Trail on Saturday, April 30. I also heard my first peeper calling in the inlet from Cascade Lake. Right where that inlet crosses the trail there was a mourning cloak butterfly sunning on the bridge as it was only 40 degrees.

I met a young lady from Old Forge walking her dogs as I was checking out the trail and asked her how the rest of the trial looked. I had passed three blowdowns that were much bigger than my brush axe could handle. She said she and her husband had been around after the snowstorm and moved lots of little things but did no cutting. I pick sticked little debris for over an hour to the outlet and turned around. I went in the next day with the chainsaw and cut out all the big stuff. As I was cutting out an old dead red spruce that had all kinds of arms and legs (which was on top of a 10-inch red maple) another couple came along walking their dogs.

Birch icicle. Photo by Gary Lee.

They got through what I had cut out and I got that mess cleaned up and the 2-foot yellow birch just up the trail. Just past that I saw something dripping in the trail. It was a large icicle melting from a birch tree about 3 feet long where a branch had been broken off by the wet snow. Everyone should be carrying a pick stick if you are out walking the trails. It is about 3 feet
long so you can twitch the little stuff out of the trail without bending over. If I had bent over to remove all the stuff I twitched out of the trail that day I probably wouldn’t have been able to get back into the truck. Just a quick flick of the wrist, and the twigs fly off into the woods.

My former Lt. Marty Hanna showed that trick when we took a walk into Stephens Pond one day and I never forgot it. It sure has saved me a lot of bending over the years and most times I walk back
out the same way I came in and I don’t have to walk over all that little stuff. It doesn’t take much to trip some people up and those rollers on the hills (little round branches that can put you on your butt quicker than you can say…well, I can’t say it here).

The fires are raging in the western states of New Mexico, Arizona, and Nebraska with no sight of rain any time soon. The weather just to the east of them in the line between hot and cold fronts have caused thunderstorms, tornadoes, and baseball-size hail all the way into the southeast. The video of the tornado in Andover, Kansas (a class three with 165 MPH winds) was amazing and how no deaths occurred is a miracle. Even another tornado in Fort Myers that went into Cape Corral. They are expecting about the same again today, May 2.

There will be a blood moon this month, an eclipse on the early morning of Monday, May 16, which should be great. I once photographed another one while at Crown Point a few years back. Fellow bander Tom Barber also photographed me holding this moon in my hand. There will be 3 more super moons this year when the moon is closest to the Earth. There was already one in January and now there will be one on June 14 (a strawberry moon,) on July 13 (a buck moon) and then again on December 23.

The Red and White-winged Crossbills are still in the area as I saw some in the road this week picking grit. If the heavy snow didn’t get their nests, they should be feeding young, but I haven’t seen
any yet.

The Crown Point Banding Station is open, but that’s another story. See ya.

Photo at top: Spring Beauty flowers. Photo taken by Gary Lee.

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Gary lives with his wife, Karen, at Eight Acre Wood in Inlet where he was the Forest Ranger for 35 years, working in the Moose River Wild Forest Recreation Area and West Canada Lakes Wilderness Area. Now retired, Gary works summers for the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation, observing, catching and banding loons. The author of a column Daybreak to Twilight in local papers from 1986 to 2019, he now writes his Outdoor Adventures a weekly blog. In 2008, Gary coauthored a book with John M.C. “Mike” Peterson, "Adirondack Birding- 60 Great Places to Find Birds."

6 Responses

  1. Boreas says:

    Thanks Gary – and keep the reports coming!

  2. Wayne Miller says:

    Any chance you’re related to a Ranger named Lee who was resident in the ‘60’s at the “CC Camps” area, Deer River Forest, Dickinson, Franklin County?

  3. Jim Fox says:

    Thanks for your usual folksy take on spring in Fulton Chain’s neck of the woods, Gary. Makes me hanker to get back up to camp. I’m sending this to a buddy who makes walking sticks that he can market as pick-stick-back-savers.

  4. Here in Maryland rangers and Parks & Rec generally prohibit citizens from using a chain saw to clear deadfall from the trails. A few look the other way. Probably a liability issue. We and others do it anyway.

  5. Mike says:

    Been using the flick stick for years, works great.

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