Saturday, April 20, 2024

Readers share eclipse stories & photos; loons call for mates, woodcocks take flight

Eighth Lake during the eclipse

They always say, “April showers bring May flowers,” but they didn’t say if they were snow or rain showers, which we had both of this week. Some snow covered the ground for a brief time on Saturday morning, April 13, but was gone by noon that day. I’m still hearing from readers about what they experienced during the eclipse. Some of my family members, living out Rochester way, didn’t experience much as clouds covered up the whole eclipse. I feel sorry for them that they didn’t see it.

Several people who were near lakes that had Loons said the Loons called during the darkness just like it was nighttime, and they were looking for their mates. My feeders were full of birds right up to the start of the eclipse, singing away. It was dead silence while the sun was gone. Then it was like morning came again, and they were back to feeding and singing.

Griffin Archambault, who works for the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation, was at Marcy Field in Keene Valley with many others and he said the Woodcock started doing courtship flights during the eclipse like what they do when the sun goes down this time of year. Another party in Boonville said the peepers started calling like it was nighttime. Others also mentioned this to me. None of my wood or peeper frogs are out calling yet, so I didn’t have that experience.

David Koester and his wife, Ann, were on the beach at the Eighth Lake Campsite along with a few more people. David took a short video of the total eclipse which he sent to me at a faster speed than when it occurred. Ann took a couple scenic shots of Eighth Lake while the sun was totally covered, which looked like a before sunrise or after sunset picture. Ellie George was out on Paradox Lake in her little Hornbeck canoe with a couple cameras. She took photos of the eclipse and action shots of a Loon she was nearby which were remarkably interesting. Thanks to all who sent the neat pictures and told of their experiences.

Last Sunday, I pulled my beaver and otter traps as that was the last day of the trapping season for them. At the last place I was trapping at the bridge going into Raquette Lake, I had caught three beavers and an otter during the week. I found that my last trap was stolen. It was a foot trap on a drown wire attached to a cement block. Everything was gone, including the cement block and the beaver that I believe was in the trap, judging from looking at the evidence around the set.

cactus vine

Cactus vine. Photo by Gary Lee.

If anyone saw anything going on the Saturday before the eclipse, April 6, or early Sunday morning by the bridge, I would be glad to hear from them. This colony of beavers had plugged the culvert on State Route 28 last summer just before the flood and I saw it and called the NYS DOT. They cleared the culvert and put in steel grates that could be pulled if the beaver built back their dam. They will not be damming that culvert this year.

I got a couple comments about trapping beavers like I was eliminating all the beavers in the Adirondacks and certainly not a conservationist. Trapping these (and other beavers) that are flooding trails and roads and using their hides is better than getting a nuisance permit and trapping or killing them out of season and burying them. There is no more trapping and transferring them to another location and giving someone else the problem with a nuisance permit.

On average, NYS DEC Wildlife issues around 2,000 beaver nuisance permits during the year across the state to towns, counties, other state agencies, railroads, and private landowners who are having beaver flooding problems. No information is kept on how many beavers are taken with these permits. Some places where I’ve had a nuisance permit, I’ve taken five or six beaver to bury and in others I’ve taken none as they moved on.

For a long time, beavers taken during the open season had to be tagged by the NYS DEC, so they knew how many beavers were taken statewide, but not now. With the price of fur being extremely low, I believe many more are being taken by nuisance permits and buried than taken during the open season and sold for their pelts anymore…what a waste of a natural resource.

My cactus that I mentioned a few weeks back is still trying to grow up a tree that is not there, so it has pushed to top of the window nearly four feet and is still trying to find a branch to hook to. When we move it outside, I will have to attach it to a porch post and see how far it will go. The Loons are back in many places, I have yet to hear or see one, but many have been reported in the area…guess I need to get out more. I do put out several Loon platforms for them to nest on and they do work.

The new platforms being put out by the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation in Saranac Lake are pretty fancy, with camo covers over the platform to protect them from Bald Eagle attacks on the nests. Three of them were put out last year on Raquette Lake and one was used successfully. They were put out again this week in hopes that the other pairs would try them. Since they float up and down, water fluctuation will not go over the eggs. With all the superstorms we are getting to raise the water, this will not be a problem and will save a few nests.

Many tree buds are popping, but that’s another story. See ya.

Photo at top: Eighth Lake during the eclipse. Photo by Ann Koester.

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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. David Bower says:

    Here in Central TX, the birds sang brightly as the sun was covered, then fell silent. All color drained out of view, and life was shades of grey during totality. The clouds that had threatened to obscure our view melted away, and we saw several bright red prominences in addition to the corona. Too soon it was over, and color and sound returned to the world. But it was marvelous while it lasted!

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