Saturday, August 12, 2023

Bee Balm Going Gang Busters & Butterflies Enjoying Milkweeds

Hummingbird in bee balm.

The heat from Arizona to the east coast hasn’t let up, with [temperatures in] many major cities in the hundreds every day…some over a month now. We are on the cool side, with more rain and thunderstorms passing through. Last Friday [August 4] as we were getting ready to go to the opening of the National Watercolor Show at View [Arts Center in Old Forge] one of those storms had quite a bit of hail in the mix. I did hear of some places across the state that got quarter-size (and bigger) hail in that same storm as it crossed the state.

As we were going to bed the night before, there was a lot of thunder to the west of us, so I had to look at the radar to see how we might fare. It showed most of the reds and yellows to the south of us, but I think things changed as it came east. There was quite a light show outside the bedroom window and then at about 10:30 p.m., the flash and the boom were at the same time. The TV went off and the lights went out instantly. I got a couple flashlights and checked the breaker downstairs, and it was still on. [I thought] time to go to sleep and it will be on in the morning. [The] phone worked…[I] checked that.

 

[I] got up at daylight and called National Grid. It seems we were the only ones on the road that were out of power. Others had lost their phone service and Internet, but we had ours. Seems that one bolt of lightning hit the power pole just below our driveway and blew the breaker that goes to our 950-foot underground line. National Grid came up, and in no time had a bucket truck come up and replace the breaker…and we had power. Seems there were several others in the area with similar problems after that storm system passed through.

Full moon

Full moon. Photo by Gary Lee.

Well, [it turns out] that wasn’t the end of it. After the pouring rain of over an inch on Friday night, the fix didn’t work, and our power was off again early Sunday morning. We called right away this time, and a lady told us it would be fixed by 8 a.m. Then a gentleman called, and he said, “Maybe not.” Someone drove in [at] about daylight and tested to see if we were out…and we were still out. A line crew came with another bucket truck, and they changed all the wiring and parts near our transformer a little after 11 a.m., and so far, it is still working. Many of our neighbors still don’t have phone or Internet service. We didn’t lose any appliances, so the breaker saved us that problem.

 

When the sun was out, there were lots of butterflies in the air and on my flowers. I hadn’t seen too many monarch butterfly caterpillars on my milkweeds or on the butterfly weed that has gone by
now. With all the rain, it may have kept the flowers from being pollinated, as I haven’t seen many pods growing from all the flowers that were out. The Joe-Pye-Weed seems to be doing great and feeding many butterflies, moths, and hummingbirds. That flower (even after it goes by) seems to still have energy that the monarchs love later in the season when the milkweeds are gone.

Orchid cactus

Orchid cactus blooming in August, which it has never done before. Photo by Gary Lee.

My bee balm is going gang busters, with five or six hummers in there all the time fighting over the flowers. My other two colors just came out, so that should take some of the pressure off my big red patch. I love that plant, as the flowers last the longest of any flower that I have in the yard. The deer nibble on them a little, but [they] look for the Touch-Me-Not [plants] that grow among them for better-tasting greenery eating.

 

I was up by Carter Station a week ago on a hot, sunny day cutting the wild parsnip to keep the seeds from ripening, as they can last up to four years before growing a plant. I cut over a thousand stems around the old station right where they had piled all the new ties they were putting under the tracks. The seeds came off the ties (hundreds of them) by all the plants that have come up in the last two years. I cut a few hundred on the way up there along Rondaxe Road and the road to Carter Station, which came from fill used along those roads.

 

The milkweed was going great along the track [in that area] and there were all kinds of butterflies enjoying the flowers. [I counted] eight different kinds of butterflies. Some skippers, a couple clear wing moths, and a couple hummingbirds came buzzing by [as well.] I did shoot the full moon Tuesday night [August 1] off the Seventh Lake Bridge. [However,] I was under an umbrella, and it didn’t last very long before the clouds rolled in and covered it up. On [August] 30, there is going to be a second full moon…sometimes called a super moon, so be looking [out] for that.

 

Loons getting hit by boats or WaveRunners are growing in number, but that’s another story. See ya.

 

Photo at top: Hummingbird in 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."




3 Responses

  1. Boreas says:

    Thanks Gary. I too have had a great year with pollinator plants, but so far have had few Monarchs visiting them. Early on I found many eggs, but only a couple caterpillars since then. I don’t know if the daily 5pm deluges are harming them or not. There is still time for a good crop of migratory Monarchs, but need more females bearing eggs – and perhaps a normalizing of the weather.

  2. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “The TV went off and the lights went out instantly.”

    > A blessing in disguise! We don’t realize what we have until the distractions enveloping us are taken away!

  3. Charlie Stehlin says:

    I very much appreciate your journalistic overviews Gary!

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