Saturday, August 27, 2022

Old Forge Garden Club Picnic: Good food, great company, loon family sighting

We got several hit or miss showers last week, some with lightning and thunder. I went down to Sand Lake at the Adirondack League Club last week with Don Andrews to check on the Loon family there. The forecast called for a clear day and no rain. It was beautiful all morning (even at 50 degrees with a little fog) as we went across Woodhull Lake. We got down to Sand Lake and rowed around the many islands there looking for a used Loon nest, but we didn’t find one with egg chips in it.


The male Loon from the pair came up to the north end to see who was on his lake. We went out into the main lake and found the female with two chicks more than half grown with mostly gray feathers. They stuck to mom like glue. The male came by, said almost nothing and went on his way, leaving the female to defend her chicks. We took a few pictures using a long lens, as the sky to the north turned rather black with a few thunder rumbles.


We went back up to Woodhull, got on a camp porch, and visited with the owner for a few minutes. Not hearing anymore noise, we decided to run the boat back to the landing. Well, we only made it a few hundred feet and it rained all the way to the landing. There was sunshine on both sides of us, but we stayed under the cloud the whole way. Luckily, it was a warm rain, just wet and no lightning. I put my hearing aids and wallet in my lunchbox to keep them dry, and everything else was quite wet. I had my rain jacket, but Don had left his in the truck as the weatherman said there was not going to be any rain…yeah right!


The folks out west in Colorado, Arizona, Utah and New Mexico got some monsoon rains on Friday and Saturday, August 19 and 20. That was only three inches, according to the National Weather Service, but it was more than enough to cause flooding in those states. In the Zion National Park in Utah, an Arizona woman was swept away by flood waters and is still missing. A 20-mile section of Colorado’s east-west highway 70 was temporarily closed because of the risk of flooding and mudslides from storms forecast for Glenwood Canyon, where wildfires burned in 2020. In New Mexico, officials at Carlsbad Caverns National Park said about 150 tourists were evacuated late Saturday night after being stranded by the rising water. Authorities said several rivers and streams in New Mexico have reached historic flood levels not seen since the early 1960’s due to recent heavy rainfall. [I read this news] online [via] AP WTAK News.


On Saturday morning (August 20), I went looking for another Loon after [a report that it was caught] in fishing line on Fourth Lake behind Alger Island. [This Loon was spotted] with a chick. I should have gone a couple hours earlier, as the big boats were out making waves on a perfectly calm lake. I put in at the Fourth Lake Access off Petrie Road and road the boat waves until I got behind Alger Island where I found the male Loon of the pair who had no line on him. I looked further east and saw an adult and chick. I had asked a couple fishermen if they had seen any Loons, but they had not…and the male was right between their boats. I got to the female and chick, and she had no line on her. She battled her way between the moving boat traffic, as they never saw her either. Everyone is in a hurry to get from point A to point B, I guess. Stop and smell the roses. I took a couple pictures, and left them fishing closer to shore.

Old Forge Garden Club Picnic. Photo by Gary Lee.


One we didn’t save was a big chick that went over the dam at Little Long Lake. Don Andrews and I went down the next day to see if we could catch this bird, [but we didn’t have any luck.] The local couple who reported the Loon had walked down the outlet and found the Loon. Unfortunately, it had been attacked by an otter and was badly damaged. We had to put that bird down, as it would not have lived with those injuries. Not a good day in the Loon world.


The Old Forge Garden Club had its annual visit to one of the local flower gardens followed by our picnic. On August 9, we visited Alana Kempf’s gardens on Cohasset Point off South Shore Road. Alana’s sun, partial sun, and shade gardens [situated] all around her and Jack’s house were beautiful. Most any wildflower you can grow up in Zone 3 (and a few from Zone 4, because they are right near the lake) were in her garden along with several ferns. After seeing her gardens, we went to Russ and Debbie Haynes’ house on Fourth Lake for our picnic in their front yard. Their yard was filled with tables and chairs and a canopy they put up for the occasion, as some rain was predicted. Small vases with flowers were also set up on every table.


Everyone brought a dish (or two) to pass, and the picnic food was great. Their flower gardens were also nice. I received a special treat when I arrived, as the local pair of Loons with a chick swam by. Over thirty members attended this event. We had a short meeting at the end, planning our Annual Plant Sale which will be at the Old Forge Library on the lawn on September 9 from 10 a.m. to noon. We will be selling plants from our gardens (mostly deer resistant) and seeds from these plants for those who want to grow their own. This is a great opportunity to get plants for next year. These plants will bloom for you next year, and the seeds will take two years for blooms to form.


Birds are quiet as they molt before their trip south, but that’s another story. See ya.

Photo at top: Loon and chick, Alger Island. 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."

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