With the shooting in the Buffalo Tops Market, killing 10 and three wounded, and the Uvalde, Texas Robb Elementary School shooting, in which 19 children and two teachers were killed, not much was heard of the fires still burning in New Mexico (largest ever) and the first Hurricane Agatha to hit Mexico. It first killed 11 and thirty missing, then traveled across the Gulf of Mexico and hit southern Florida with 12 to 15 inches of rain as Tropical Storm Alex. Many people seem to be living in a bubble, yet ducking COVID, which is still catching lots of people by surprise.
Back to the first two on the list. I was a Hunter Safety Training Trainer for the DEC for over twenty-five years, and it was only near the end of that time, that the AR-15 was just showing up on the public market. I never saw it as a hunting weapon, and still don’t. It’s a killing machine invented for war, which is now being waged on children in schools and public events and places where there are lots of people.
Near the end of my thirty-five-year career as a Forest Ranger, as a peace officer, I did carry a side arm. It carried thirteen rounds and a clip on my belt with twelve more rounds, which was no match for an AR-15, which can hold one hundred rounds or more and be shot in a few seconds. I did wear body armor, but so do the people who have committed these horrendous shooting sprees. I have been a hunter since I could carry a gun. I shot rats at the dump behind the house with my trusty twenty-two, which I still have. I hunted small game, birds, and animals as I grew up, as we were a hunting family. Then big game deer and bear as I got older. I moved on to Elk and mule deer when I got the chance, hunting ethically. I did join the NRA for a short period, but left them when they were going in a different direction than hunters.
Now, when the NRA and Trump still say the best way to stop a guy with a gun is a guy with a gun. Well, at some of the mass shootings there was a guy with a gun and he with his handgun got taken out quickly, as he was out gunned by a guy with an AR-15. At the Robb Elementary School, there were several police officers with guns inside the school and yet the shooter was still shooting almost an hour after entering the school as children phoned 911 for help. This needs to stop as there are thousands of these military-type guns out there, so the laws need to change, and now.
Back to the woods and all the beautiful wildflowers, birds, animals, and trees that are out there. Many of the places where I went looking at Loons, the shorelines of the lakes were lined pink with wild azaleas. These were a buzz with bees and hummers working the flowers. Normally, I see a hummingbird moth working these, but not this year. The yellow swallowtail butterflies and some small skippers were pollinating the flowers.
In many places where I had to walk through the woods, I saw Pink Lady’s Slippers and other wildflowers. Just today, June 7, I saw four different loons on a nest, which was a great day. Let us hope the rain coming the next few days isn’t like what they got down south, or these nests will be underwater. If you are out and about on the water and come upon a nesting Loon on the shoreline, back off. If you need to take photos, take them from a distance. Many times, you will not even see a sitting Loon. They go into the hang over position with their beak nearly in the water, as they try to hide from your passing.
If they do get off the nest, you should leave the area so she or he can get back on the nest and protect the eggs from predators. They must sit on those eggs for twenty-seven days, and both the male and female do sitting chores. Many of the Loons came back early this year and have gotten on nests sooner than normal. That means there will be chicks on the water earlier than normal. Most chicks come off the nests in late June and early July unless they lose their first nest. Some Loons on bigger lakes will usually re-nest not long after they lose the first nest. They will nest in a new location, as the first spot failed. If Loons have a successful nest one year, they will usually use the same spot the next year.
While I was out and about, I found a Rusty Blackbird nest spot, as the pair got upset when I was near the nesting area. This is the first time in several years that I found a pair of Rusty Blackbirds nesting. Years ago, there were little colonies of them nesting along some boggy brooks in this area. Then they just went off the radar, so it was nice to see a pair here again.
Fawns are being born, so watch out for them crossing the highway, but that’s another story. See ya.
Photo at top: Wild Azalea. Photo by Gary Lee.