Saturday, August 26, 2023

Offering visitors a unique experience while banding hummingbirds at Stillwater

Children watch a man band hummingbirds

With all the weather and fire events that are happening, it’s hard to keep track and report on all of them. Here we sit with water up to our eyeballs [in the Adirondacks.] A hurricane hit California and other western states will be getting the rain from it…all the way to the Canadian border. This looks like it will drown areas in California, Nevada, and Arizona. [However,] it may not be enough to help with the fires in Oregon and Washington, as it may go too far to the east. The Canadian provinces won’t be getting much of it there either, where it is needed. They evacuated 20,000 people from the town of Yellow Knife in the Northwest Territory, as fires were within two miles of the town. That’s got to be a scary situation to drive away, not knowing what you might come back to with fires that big.


[It was reported that] the fires on the island of Maui in the Hawaii Chain started from downed power lines caused [by] the hurricane which passed by south of the island in the Pacific Ocean. The major city of Lahaina was badly damaged, [and] lost over 2,000 structures. So far, over 110 [people] have been found dead, with over 1,000 still missing. Many [people] survived by getting into the ocean to get away from the flames. Others who died were trapped in their cars and homes as flames were swept through [the town] by 80 MPH winds. Karen and I stayed on the beach in Lahaina on both trips to Hawaii, a beautiful place that’s changed forever.

Locally, we are still getting more rain than we need as my gauge had over an inch four days this week, and I was out in it several times. The weather forecast showed sunny, and then a black cloud would come over and it would rain. I got wet going down Woodhull Lake one day and then got wet coming back the same day within about 1,000 feet of the landing. I did have rain gear on, but I still got somewhat wet loading the canoe. The loons didn’t seem to care, as I heard the male by the landing (that has a weird call) telling me I was in his territory. That pair had a chick, as did the pair down by [the] Wolf Lake landing.

monarch caterpillar

A monarch caterpillar. Photo by Gary Lee.

One of the residents there told me that the adult bald eagle made regular trips up and down the lake. Maybe that’s why I saw no ducks around the shoreline? I went down to Sand Lake and rowed around the lake. I found this year’s loon nest and picked egg chips from it. I looked up and the pair of adults weren’t far away, but they had no chicks. The eagle was probably patrolling around down there [as well.] I did see a hooded merganser duck along the shore, sneaking through the pickerel weeds.

On Saturday, [August 19] hummingbird bander, Ted Hicks, came up and we went up to the Stillwater Restaurant for the third time this year to band hummers. Of course, it rained the whole way up to Stillwater and slacked off some a little after we got there. So, we set up the trap and started catching hummers. There were quite a few buzzing around the feeders. Several visitors came to watch us catch and band these little birds. I missed a couple in the trap, but I caught two once, and three one other time. Most everyone got to release a bird and watch them being banded by Ted. There were several children who will have a story to tell their classmates about the hummingbird they got to hold at Stillwater this summer. We caught 17 new birds, [including] some juveniles from this year, three from former years, and three repeats from that day [all] in about an hour and a half of trapping.

Marian and Joe [of the Stillwater Restaurant] have as much fun as the visitors, seeing the smiles on the faces of young and old. [On] Sunday morning [August 20], I cut and bagged several seed heads of wild parsnip to keep them from making more plants in future years (as the seeds are viable for four years.) The ones that were still in flower I just cut down near the ground. Many of these were growing among the milkweed plants, and I saw several monarch caterpillars of all sizes.

The [parade celebrating the] 100th anniversary [years of service] of the Inlet Volunteer Hose Company [took place that afternoon at] 1 p.m. The lineup was over at [the] Rocky Point parking area. Sprinkles started to fall as we waited for one of the ambulances to return from a call. Three older life members, [including] Ron St. Marie, Theadore LaPorte and myself, were riding in some older convertibles in the parade. My driver was Greg Rudd along with his wife, Toni. We got as far as Harvey’s Cottages and our car died, so we watched the parade go by from the sidewalk in the car. We did catch a ride up to the fire hall [for the party.] We heard that our old LaFrance fire truck died a couple times, but got back into the parade and made it to the fire hall…but not our convertible.

The Old Forge Garden Club will be having their annual plant sale at the Old Forge Library [on] Friday, September 8 from 9:30 a.m. to noon, but that’s another story. See ya.

 

Photo at top: Hummer banding at Stillwater. Photo by Sue Kiesel.

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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. Boreas says:

    Thanks Gary! Despite a bumper crop of milkweed and butterfly weed, I can count on one hand the number of Monarchs I have seen – and similar with caterpillars. There were plenty of eggs laid early on, but few seemed to hatch. I assume this is just a local issue for me, but am wondering what others are finding. Granted, I have not been spending as much time in my pollinator garden this year because of the double jeopardy of rain and skeeters.

    I banded Monarchs the last 2 years from raising caterpillars taken from my crop of milkweed, but left them all this year on the milkweed to fend for themselves. I can only hope next year will be better. Fingers crossed!

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