Saturday, June 10, 2023

NYS Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame: 12 new members, 3 special award members inducted

From left: Harry and Ann Peck, Gary Lee, Laurie and Alan Rankin.

We need some rain as most of the lakes I’ve been visiting while watching Loons (as well as my pond) are at August-levels. Several of my Loon pairs are on nests already and putting up with the blackflies along with me. I’ve had my bug jacket on many times, but it changes what you see through the binoculars. When the sun shines on the mesh, you can hardly see anything. On May 21 (the day after I got back from the Crown Point Banding Station) Karen and I went to the induction of twelve new members and three special award members into the NYS Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame at Theodore’s Restaurant in Canastota.

My nomination of Laurie Rankin, Director of the NYS Chapter of the Forest Fire Lookout Association since 2014, was inducted that day. If you have climbed fire towers in New York State, you have been able to enjoy some of Laurie’s work. [She has done work] building on the trail systems and repairing the towers themselves, so you could again get a view from the tower cab. For several years she has organized volunteers to work on these trails and towers, so others could enjoy them after the state abandoned them.


Several [towers] in wilderness areas were taken down, but many others have been worked on still to be enjoyed by the public. She arranges for stewards to be in several of these towers and organizes volunteers to be in many of these towers to light them up on the second Saturday of September from 9 to 10 p.m. in honor of those who served protecting the wildlands from fire for many years. [She has worked] in cooperation with the DEC Operations, Foresters, and Forest Rangers to make this possible.


The frost [we had] a couple mornings last week may have done in many of the fruit and berry bearing trees and bushes in the area. Some may have made it through those cold mornings….only time will tell. Nature is tough, but to lose all the fruit and nut crops from the woods is not good for wildlife that depend on that food during the summer and fall. The bears went to bed a little slimmer last fall with no beechnut and acorn crops to feed on. They must have eaten lots of bog grasses and leaves to make up the difference of food from some folk’s bird feeders.

Loon on nest

Loon on nest. Photo by Gary Lee.

Just last week Stan Ernst let me know that a mother bear and two cubs had just walked through his yard up the road. Not more than half an hour later, that mother and three cubs went walking down the ski trail behind the house, so I let him know he missed seeing one of them. Momma Bear took one look at my electric fence and kept going down the trail, never to be seen again. She probably tried to get the feeders last year, got the shock of her life, and remembered that.


I still have a few birds visiting the feeders, [and] even a pair of Evening Grosbeaks are still coming every day. They nested in the area years ago when their populations were much higher and these two may nest here, as they have a good source of food to eat every day. Many other birds have claimed territory around the yard and the males are singing their songs from the treetops. Ovenbirds on both sides of the property, both Red-Eyed Vireo and Blue-Headed Vireo, Black-Throated Green Warbler, Black-Capped Chickadee, White-Breasted Nuthatch, Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker, both Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers, and a Pileated Woodpecker.


The Belted King Fisher comes up from the gravel pit to fish each day at the pond. The female Mallard hatched her brood of eight little ones by the pond last week. A pair of Barred Owls must be nesting near by, as they hunt through here most every night…and sometimes during the day. Their babies must be ready to fledge by now. The Ravens brought a family of four babies down to the dam on the pond last week to make some begging noise. While checking one of my Loon lakes, I saw the adult Bald Eagle on the edge of her nest with one young one begging for food. She won’t have to go very far, as the Canada Geese on the lake have several families for her to plunder. Last year, there were only three babies left out of over twenty to start with. The snapping turtles may have gotten a few of these, but the Bald Eagle is swift at picking them from the water.


My yellow lady’s slippers are in full bloom, as they were just in bud during the frost event. I checked the showy lady’s slippers yesterday in [the] bog in Remsen from the road. I didn’t see any in bloom or in bud, so they may be a little late blooming this year. The bog is posted this year by the owner, so you will have to view them from the road with binoculars and a long lens camera. I normally visit them on Father’s Day, but I won’t be going there this year, and in two weeks they should be out.


More Loon visits this week, but that’s another story. See ya.


Photo at top: From left: Harry and Ann Peck, Gary Lee, and Laurie and Alan Rankin. Photo provided 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."

One Response

  1. Jim Fox says:

    Congratulations Laurie! And thank you for nominating her, Gary. Thanks too for including Harry & Anna Peck, longtime Stillwater Fire Tower volunteers.

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