Saturday, June 24, 2023

June 16: Rare finds and odd happenings of past and present

Painted turtles

We got some badly-needed rain this week, mostly at night which was good for my Loon surveys. They don’t mind the rain, but I hate to get wet or wear so many clothes to keep dry [that] I get wet anyway. Some folks from Texas to Florida got much more [rain] than they needed with a foot to fifteen inches of rain in [one] day. Some got tornadoes along with these storms. One in the panhandle of Texas wiped out the town of Perryton with three people killed, one an eleven-year-old boy. Many of these storms had hail (from golf ball-size to baseball-size) as they swept across the south, leaving almost 600,000 [people] without power as winds were up to eighty miles per hour. Looking at the destruction of homes, it’s a wonder that more people weren’t killed.

The rain we got was mostly soaked up by the woods and vegetation, as my little intermittent brook never ran a drop. The pond came up some, just enough to go out the outlet. Most of the lakes that
I’ve been on are down six inches to a foot. Some of the loons are building a nest and nesting right on the shore, which won’t give them much free board if we do get lots of rain. If they lose their nest much after the middle of July, they probably won’t try again.


I did have one on Dart’s Lake that nested late and didn’t bring her babies off the nest until August 12. This was the latest of any Loon nest hatching I ever had. We’ve had a few pairs that have nested three and four times during one nesting year…that’s using a lot of energy. Once on Limekiln Lake, both pairs lost their first nest and the island pair renested. The outlet pair didn’t find a good spot to nest, so they dumped both their eggs in the island pair’s nest. The observer that year came to the house and asked for a camera to take a picture of the four eggs in the nest. The nest wasn’t successful, and it was also abandoned. We couldn’t take two eggs out, because we didn’t know which ones were in there first.

White Clematis.

White Clematis. Photo by Gary Lee.

Some of these odd happenings occurred on June 16. On June 16, I was surveying Woodhull Lake and I saw odd actions of a bird out on the water down near the outlet and I saw a bird out in the
middle of the lake acting weird. At first, I thought it was Common Merganser, possibly with some fishing line caught on it. As I got closer, I could see it was a smaller Loon-type bird. It popped up right in front of the canoe, and it was a beautiful male Red-Throated Loon. I took some photos, but none came out that well, and the folks who look at rare finds didn’t think it was. Being this late in the season, these birds should be up north of us already.


The next big rare find happened on 6/16/2011 as I was doing a Boreal bird survey around Helldiver Pond and the mosquitoes were horrible. My first stop was right in the parking area, and I
could barely see my hands as the mosquitoes were that thick. You must listen at each stop for ten minutes and the most I heard was mosquitoes buzzing. I got to the next stop at the landing on the
pond and there was Harold (to be named later,) the bull moose eating water plants out in the water right in front of me. Mosquitoes be damned, I went and got my canoe and camera, and shot
photos of Harold for half an hour. He was still in the pond when I left with a camera card full of moose pictures.


Now on Friday, [June] 16, I told Karen when I left that this has many times been a special nature day for me. My first stop was at Rondaxe Lake and the loon there is nested right in front of some camps. When I got there, the yard was full of cars and trucks. That Loon will never put up with this [I thought,] as I walked down toward the nest site. [However,] there it was sitting right up not fifty feet away, enjoying the goings on at the camp. The family at the camp had seen the pair working on the nest when they were up a few weeks ago, and she sat before they left.


I left there headed up to Little Safford Lake, and not far up the road there was a turtle. I stopped (thinking it was a painted turtle,) but it was a wood turtle which I hadn’t seen in the area since 1999 right in my flower garden. Well, I took some photos, which didn’t come out very well as I had no card in my camera…Rookie! Bruce Dennison called me last year to tell me he saw one on a sand bar as he canoed the North Branch of the Moose [River] from Rondaxe down to Old Forge, and he had photos. So, this could be the same wood turtle, but we will never know…a rare find for sure. Luckily, Don Andrews found some painted turtles while he was watching loons on Seventh Lake, so they will have to do for the photo opp.


On that same day I did find a neat plant, a white clematis (all in bloom,) which grows on the ground and not up any trellis. It must be deer resistant, because there certainly are deer in that area.
I am traveling west for the next week, and I might not get a place to write. The only time that I missed getting a column in the paper since 1986 was in 1988 when I was on the fires in Yellowstone National Park, and the snail mail didn’t make it back to Old Forge in time.


Well, I’ll be in Yellowstone again this time around and I’ll see if I can find a carrier pigeon to carry it back east, but that’s another story. See ya.


Photo at top: Painted turtles. Photo by Don Andrews.

Related Stories

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."

3 Responses

  1. Smitty says:

    Gary: How about a photo of Helldiver Harold?

  2. Margot Paul Ernst says:

    Wonderful article need more of these on wildlife. Don’t understand why you have to weigh in on political issues with strong unsubstantiated opinions. It is unprofessional.
    You are favoring one side of a complex story with a personal slant. .

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Wait! Before you go:

Catch up on all your Adirondack
news, delivered weekly to your inbox