Saturday, October 29, 2022

An Adirondack fall: Saw Whet Owls, ladybugs, and deer hunting

The coldest morning so far (at 24 degrees) did in my dahlias, which had several blooms still trying to come out. I covered my toad lilies and saved them for a few more blooms, then cut them off and brought them inside where they are blooming in water on the windowsill. The warm spell over the weekend sure hatched out the ladybugs. There were hundreds trying to get in somewhere to spend the winter on the sunny side of the house and garage. They get under the edges of my windows, and I find them when I release one of my banded birds out the window.

There were lots of songbirds moving south and several stopped to have a bite to eat at the feeders. One morning, the ground around the feeders was covered with Slate-Colored Juncos and White-Throated Sparrows. I opened my net and caught birds most of the day until I ran out of bands for them. I did fifty Juncos, and almost that many Sparrows. I got a few Song, White-Crowned, and Chipping Sparrows as well as nearly forty White-Throated Sparrows. Most of those moved on during those clear nights, as the ones I see under the feeders now aren’t wearing bands.


When this is occurring, the Saw Whet Owls are also moving each night, so I put up those nets in the dark, and play the call tape for them. So far, I’ve caught eighteen, the most I had caught in other years was sixteen. [I caught] fifteen in one night (October 23, 2018) and one the next night. So tonight, might be a good night again. I’ve caught three on four nights and had a fourth one in the net one night when I went out to fold up the nets. It ran out the end of the net pocket and flew away before I got it. I had a deer walk through one of my nets last night, so I have some mending to do when it stops raining today [October 24].

Nice Buck by David Koester. Photo by Gary Lee. 

The big news (weather-wise) is Hurricane Roslyn which hit the coast of Mexico with winds of 120 miles an hour and lots of flooding from the rain that came with it. Only three people were reported killed after being hit with falling material in homes. It was downgraded to a tropical storm as it moved across Mexico. The leaves (except for the tamarack, beech and aspens) are pretty much on the ground. [This leaves] a gray landscape as I look out my front windows at the ridge where they are working to put up a couple cell towers. I don’t think I will be able to see these when they are done as I can’t see the clearing up there where the lean-to is located. Karen and I said we may have to get a cell phone now that there is going to be a cell tower in the front yard. We had no service here, so why have one? Maybe [it is worth it to have a cell phone] for the camera that’s built in, which does take some nice pictures.


I’ve been collecting wildflower seeds and spreading them around in open areas that don’t get mowed. A few more wildflowers are always good, and milkweeds and butterfly weeds are always good for the butterflies of all kinds. A few of the monarch butterfly caterpillars I picked up on the Big Moose Road went into chrysalis and became adults that I released. These last few warmer days may help them make the journey west to Mexico, but they will be late arrivals. We have been through special bear season, bow season for big game, muzzleloader season, and now we are into the regular gun season for big game. When the big game season opened years ago on October 25, it was a big event in the Adirondacks. Now, with all the other seasons, you hardly even know when it opens.


Hunters (of one kind or another) have been out and about for nearly two months already. I haven’t heard about too many deer or bear being taken, but I did get a nice picture of a big buck taken with a muzzleloader last weekend locally. It should make the record book, if it gets scored. Lots of hunters these days wait for snow, so they can track a big buck. With the weather [we are having these days], that may happen…or maybe not. I may even chase one this year, as the freezer is empty right now. I have seen a couple nice bucks this fall. And I would like to get on their track, and see if they are smarter than I am.


Still working on a few more Saw Whet Owls before they have all gone south, but that’s another story. See ya.


Photo at top: Ladybugs. 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."

6 Responses

  1. Boreas says:


    What are the best nighttime conditions to hear/see Saw Whets?

    I discovered a good way to free milkweed seeds from their parachutes. Nothing more than letting the pods get very dry, splitting the case, and while holding the fluff with my RT thumb and forefinger, I use my left thumbnail to scrape the seeds into a container. Hardly get any fluff that way. Much easier to sow them if they aren’t flying in your eyes and up your nose!

  2. Richard says:

    I always read and enjoy Gary Lee’s writing. FYI the swarms of ladybugs seem to be everywhere now, as I just heard from friends in Mississippi whose camper trailer was invaded by them.

  3. Kim Pope says:

    the Saw Whet owl is just beautiful!!
    I am just learning about these beautiful little creatures.

    I am on the lookout and listening for them!

    Thanks for your vast knowledge Gary.

    I am trying to find your weekly blog online

    Kim Pope

  4. Randy Fredlund says:

    Don’t think those swarms trying to get in are ladybugs.

    I believe they are Asian Lady Beetles. According to info found on the web, they were introduced by the Department of Agriculture in the 70s to eat aphids. They scour every inch of a dwelling, searching for a crack or slightly open door so they can invade your warm space.

  5. Joe Harman says:

    My wife and I met in Adirondacks near inlet. Her cousin worked ar Big Moose Lodge. Our first date we climbed Bald Rock above Fourth Lake near Old Forge.

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