Saturday, July 9, 2022

Finding beauty in flowers, birds while cleaning up litter

I got out on several different waters this week, checking Loons and doing some Boreal Bird Studies. I found some new nesting Loons and a few Boreal birds. Some things I found in my travels didn’t make me happy. One was the mess left up in the pit by Independence Lake. I believe the mess was made by celebrating students from the Town of Webb.  I can’t prove it, but it happened on graduation night, as it has for the past three or four years somewhere on the Town of Webb Snowmobile Trail System.

A big bonfire of pallets, old furniture (and other things that will burn,) then toss in over one hundred empty beer, wine, and soda cans…and you can call it a party. Then you drive around it with some big trucks crushing other cans and bottles, and leave the mess for someone else to pick up…that’s pride in your area! We have a clean up day in May, which many students take part in making the area free of much litter left by visitors (and some by locals.) Maybe some of the students who left this mess could travel again to this area, and remove the stuff they left for others to see and pick up.

While I’m on this rant, some visitors left us a present. They dumped a pickup full of garbage in the handicap parking lot of Moss Lake. The bears, ravens, and crows all got into these garbage bags and scattered it all over the place behind the parking area. It took me over an hour to clean up this garbage and take it to the transfer station. The people who left this certainly don’t have any pride in this area and may never return…and that wouldn’t hurt my feelings either. If this is the kind of visitors we are inviting to this area, they can all stay home. I know it only takes one rotten apple to spoil the bushel, but this sure was one of them.

Garbage at Independence Lake. Photo by Gary Lee.

I did see lots of beautiful things in my travels such as, grass pinks, rose pegonias and white-fringed orchids in flower in Ferd’s Bog among the thousands of blooming heads of the pitcher plants and cotton grass. There were some Boreal birds there as well as a Black-Backed Woodpecker, Yellow-Bellied Flycatcher, Palm Warbler, and lots of singing Lincoln Sparrows. The sparrows sound just like a House Wren, but with a little more noise. They nest right down in the sphagnum moss, and there were several pairs holding territory in various parts of the bog.

The sundews (both round and spatulated leaf) are just putting out little white flowers of their own all along the boardwalk. I got there for sunrise one morning and you might wonder how any flying bug could avoid all the spiderwebs covered with dew on almost every tree and bush in the bog.

Another survey I do is to go down the Brown’s Tract Stream from the canoe carry to the bridge in Raquette Lake. I didn’t find a Loon on a nest, which I had seen in previous years, but I did see a couple families of Wood Ducks and a family of Mallards. Several different songbirds were singing along the way, including Redwing Blackbirds, Swamp, and White-Throated Sparrows. Also, at almost every stop along the way I heard Northern Parula Warblers.

The last is one of the smallest warblers, but has a song you will not forget once you learn it, as it goes up the scale. I had three American Bitterns fly overhead, who are probably feeding young along the stream. Right by the bridge in Raquette is always a hot spot for bird watching. An Osprey has been nesting the last couple of years, as well as a colony of Barn Swallows nesting under the bridge, and several other songbirds singing right in that area.


Ferd’s Bog sunrise and spiderwebs. Photo by Gary Lee.

Plenty of July 4 celebrations and parades took place in towns across the nation. Be careful out there, as accidents with fireworks almost always happen. The way the scanner has been going, ambulance crews don’t need another trip to the city. Some of these rockets can cause fires in the woods or on your roof, so let us hope that doesn’t happen.

The Loons have some young ones on the water, so watch out for them. Others are still sitting on eggs for maybe another couple weeks. The Loon Census is coming up on July 16 from 8 to 9 a.m. There are many lakes that don’t have watchers in this area and in other areas across the Adirondack Park. Watchers are also needed for some lakes outside the park where Loons now nest. Anyone interested can look up the Census Map online and see if they are close to a lake that doesn’t have a watcher for that day. Find more information here:

Locally, the following bodies of water were all open when I looked a couple days ago: Cascade, Bubb and Sis, Little Safford, Independence, Big Safford, Queer Lake, West Pond on the Rondaxe Road and West Pond off the Snowmobile Trail near Big Moose, Buck Pond, Silver Lake, and Razorback Pond. Not having Loons is just as important as the ones that do to get an accurate count of Loons in the Park.

More to come on the Loon Census, but that’s another story. See ya.

Photo at top: Garbage at Moss Lake. Photo 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."

8 Responses

  1. nathan says:

    it always seems that the litter is just too hard to carry both ways and there is a hugely increasing issue of shady contractors dumping waste on back roads and secluded areas. i now always carry a telephoto camera now to take persons picture,vehicle plate. call it in to police. dont confront, proof and police.

    • LeRoy Hogan says:

      I’d rather have you be safe so you can report the events so keep doing the safe stuff.

  2. JB says:

    Enjoy reading your meditations about plants and animals, Gary. Unfortunately, the scene above is all too common across many of our public lands — as you say, many of the perpetrators may never return, and yet someone always fills their place the next year.

  3. For the mess on moss Lake it might be worthwhile to look for something that has a name and address on it like mail or receipts. It can then be reported to the local police who can investigate.

  4. Boreas says:

    Kids can be taught to care for the environment. They also can be taught NOT to care.

  5. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “i now always carry a telephoto camera now to take persons picture, vehicle plate.”

    The odds on you being there when an idiot is laying waste are pretty slim nathan. The only thing which will fix this problem is enforcement of some kind. But where to get the manpower. I would suggest education but we’re way beyond that point.

  6. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “…the mess left up in the pit by Independence Lake.”

    That’s a lot of mess Gary! I am reminded of the time I was way back by Squaw Lake in the Moose River Recreation Area. When I got back there I discovered a few empty six-pack bottles of beer with one bottle missing, which I feared might have gone into the lake but can never know. I carried those bottles out with me. Not near the mess you confronted but the psychology is one and the same….people just don’t care! I have other stories as I’m sure everyone does. Thank you again for your efforts!

  7. Jane says:

    It seems that lots of people leave their garbage behind! So very sad! I’m always taking out more trash from where ever I go. Lazy people!