Saturday, July 23, 2022

Loon Census 2022, observing hummingbirds, bears and deer from front porch

A little rain kept my garden growing and flowers blooming. My bee balm has come out, giving the hummers a new place to eat in both the front and back yards. Karen and I sat on the front porch
yesterday (July 17) and the hummer feeders were a beehive of activity all afternoon. In the morning we had a mother bear come through with two of last year’s cubs checking out the bird feeders. The mother and one cub walked around the electric fence. The other cub got confused as to where the others went. It tried to go through the fence, but took a shot and backed off. Then it circled around looking for mom and hit the fence again. It left in a hurry that time, and probably will not try that again.

A few minutes later, there was a doe with twin fawns who were nursing together out in front of the house. It would have made a great picture as they were right in a sunshine spot, but the camera was in the truck. Many birds have been bringing their young ones to the feeders for a snack. Several Blue Jays with young have been coming every day. I set the Potter traps yesterday and caught five of the young ones. I also caught an older Jay that I had banded as a juvenile in July of 2014 which made that bird 8 years and two months old. That is one of the oldest returns I’ve had of a Jay. They usually eat and run never to be seen again, but not this one. I also caught some juvenile Slate-Colored Juncos who were still sporting some pin feathers.

The Loon Census was Saturday, (July 16) from 8 to 9 a.m. on a lake of your choice or one that no one else was doing. On some big lakes, like Raquette Lake, they have several watchers on various parts of the lake. At the Adirondack League Club they also have several people who go to different lakes and ponds on the club to check for loons and chicks. I do three interior lakes and one pond in the Moose River Area. This year I cut back on doing Mitchell Ponds which I had done in previous years. It takes me a little longer than the hour provided, but no one else gets to see these lakes that day and most birds don’t move around much when on territory.

I biked into Little Indian Lake early that day and got there just before 8 a.m., with a stop at Muskrat Pond on the way in. Normally I just see a family of Ring-Necked Ducks or Hooded Mergansers on the pond, but not on Saturday, as there was a big Loon out there fishing. This was only the second time I’ve seen a Loon on this pond. I saw fresh moose tracks along the way to Little Indian Lake. I got there right at 8 a.m., even though I moved a few debris out of the road along the way. I hate to have to stop on the way out on some of the downhills. Right out in front of the campsite there was a Loon calling as I walked out into the open but no chicks, just a single Loon. I did canoe the entire lake looking for nesting sites as I hadn’t been there yet this year, but found none.

Loon and chick. Photo by Don Andrews.

I did get a Ring-Necked Duck with five babies and a few songbirds with food for young, including White-Throated Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker, and Belted Kingfisher. There were some Cedar Waxwings bugging around the shoreline as there was a green drake hatch coming off the water. I biked back to the old trail down to Squaw Lake and walked out to Ledge Rock Point where you can see most of the lake.

My Dad’s ashes are there so we had a little visit and caught up on things. I had to tell him of the new Great Grand Baby Milly that he was missing. We had some great fishing days right in front of that rock ledge that we visit about each year. This year there was a Loon right off the ledge which said nothing as it swam to the far west end of the lake and met up with another loon that had a chick following it. I watched them fish together for a while under the big dead pine with an Osprey nest on top, which also had a young bird in the nest. All kinds of excitement, as these Loons hadn’t had a chick in three years on the lake.

Back up to the bike and out to the truck where I had lunch, a couple granola bars and an apple. Drove over to the Beaver Lake Trailhead and then biked the two miles into the lake. I passed four hikers and two dogs near the big pine tree. I asked if they had seen any Loons on the lake and they said they were there about an hour and hadn’t seen or heard anything. I got there at about 1 p.m. and saw a Loon fishing down in the pond lilies at the west end. Looking further, I could see a Loon on the nest on a bog at the far west end of the lake. I sat on shore and watched for a while as the bird on the nest got off and cooled itself in the lake and got back on the nest, which ended my Loon Census Day.

I can bike out of Beaver Lake in less than 15 minutes if I don’t stop to admire the big triple white pine which is in the stages of dying. I sure hope it doesn’t fall across the trail, as we don’t have saws big enough to cut it out. Two other big pines fell just down the trail a year before I came here in 1966, and luckily they fell parallel to the trail.

Wild parsnip is taking over the road shoulders and even fields on the way to Utica, but that’s another story. See ya.


Photo at top: Hummer in the Bee Balm. 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."

5 Responses

  1. Looks really gorgeous…..Spent all my childhood and teen years upstate New York, Swanlake Area….Loved it..

  2. Terry Fluri says:

    Thanks for a great article, Gary! I really enjoyed it! About 8 years ago, my guy and I made a trip to Helldiver Pond at around 5 am, hoping to see a moose. Heard many other people say they saw one there. Never did, sadly but on the way out we encountered a Forest Ranger, and naturally I asked “Are you Gary Lee?” He said “Everyone wants to meet Gary Lee!” I thought that was awesome. I know your sister and she has told me several stories about your encounters with moose and folks looking for moose. We did eventually see one on Rt 30 just south of Indian Lake; we weren’t even looking!

    Just wanted to share that with you. Have a good one!

    See ya 😉

    Terry F

  3. Jeanne says:

    Great article Gary. I’ve seen moose & bear & lynx! Love the Adirondacks!!!

  4. Suzanne says:

    Thank you for the beautiful photos and sharing your experience. It’s so beautiful and joyful to read. So far this year I have seen wild grouse, turkeys, a bear, deer and their fawns, fox, eagles, pileated woodpecker, hummingbirds and all sorts of pollinators at our camp. ❤️

  5. Joan says:

    Wow! What a day for you! Your writing about nature is entertaining and informative, thx! Lucky man to live in such a beautiful place, but I’m sure it’s by choice! Enjoy the beauty in your every day and thanks for brining it to us who love it!

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