Saturday, May 4, 2024

Placing loon platforms & reminiscing about nabbing a tom turkey in ’92

Man with turkey

I saw my first blackfly in the air while working in the View Art Center gardens in Old Forge last week. It was only one, but I’m sure there are more to come. They were down by the pond when I fed the trout last night. We had three mornings in the twenties this week which put a skim of ice on the bird bath, but didn’t harm the growing flowers, so far that I can see. Many more wildflowers put out blooms as the sun came out on a couple of those days.

With these April showers, many more should pop out this week. I haven’t seen trailing arbutus in bloom yet, but Ellie George over at Paradox Lake said she had seen some out over the weekend. I often miss them as I don’t go to places where they grow at this time of the year and there are many growing in this area. They grow so low to the ground as they are trailing vines with oval leaves that most people don’t ever see them. They have a strong, sweet odor that you can smell way before you see the flowers.

The trout lilies came out this week and they are all over the property. I watched the deer herd come through munching what seemed everything green in their path. The trout lilies were there, but I don’t know if they ate them or not. The turkeys also eat greenery as I shot one once that had its crop full of dandelion flowers.

Speaking of that, the turkey season and many warm water fish seasons opened, including walleye and pike, on the first of May. Jason Harter sent me a picture of a nice tom turkey that I took down in his neck of the woods way back in 1992. I know I missed one down there one day when Jason was calling, and I was sitting further out when a big tom came in. I didn’t wait quite long enough as he was still coming in my direction when I shot. Jason said, “You don’t have a rifle you know” as it was an exceptionally long shot that didn’t even faze the turkey, only to have him fly away. I guess I waited longer when this tom came in.

Coltsfoot Flower

Coltsfoot flowers. Photo by Gary Lee.

I got out on the water a couple times and put in Loon platforms. One pair on a private lake that has nested on a platform for over thirty years came right over as I was towing the platform out. The male Loon here is banded, and I saw his bands. They were curious about the new platform which has an eagle protective cover, but they disappeared when I threw the cement block overboard, and they were not seen again. I’m sure they will check it out after I leave the area. The second one I put in was also in a private lake where I didn’t see the Loons. The caretaker there said there had a been a pair on the lake. We lost the banded male on this lake last fall as it was found dead along the shoreline. I don’t know if we found out what it died from as there wasn’t much left of this Loon when found.

The folks in the West and Midwest are ducking strong storms, some tornadoes, heavy rains, and hail. Friday alone, 78 tornadoes were reported, mostly in Nebraska and Iowa. Another 35 were reported on Saturday, April 27 from northern Texas to Missouri. Some towns were not spared on Saturday with many homes and businesses hit in Sulphur, Oklahoma, leaving four dead and thousands left without power, as 16 hit that state. More storms are expected in a wider area from Texas to Illinois as colder air collides with the heat in the eastern US. President Biden declared a major disaster area over the severe storms that flooded the states of Washington and Kansas, the White House said. Major flooding is expected across the south as these storms pass that area.

The birds have been moving north, some just ahead of these storms, others may get caught in them as they cross the waters between South America and our southern coastline. Some warblers have already moved north and have been reported, seen and heard, in the southern Adirondacks. I have only heard a Yellow-Rumped Warbler so far in this area. I have had Chipping-, Song-, and White-Throated Sparrows so far around the feeders. A second flight of Red-Winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles came in over the weekend and I banded a few. There are still over fifty little birds around the feeders, including Pine Siskins, Slate-Colored Juncos, American Goldfinch, and Purple Finch. A couple of days I banded over 25 each of the first and last-mentioned species.

I haven’t seen any bears around here yet, but a few have been seen and photographed in Old Forge, such as a mother and single cub, and a single adult. Judging from the look of a dumpster in Eagle Bay today, April 29, there is a bear there.

More wildflowers should be popping with the heat later this week, but that’s another story. See ya.

Photo at top: Me and Tom Turkey circa 1992. Photo by Jason Harter. 

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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. Pete says:

    Thanks Gary, I always wondered what those yellow flowers were called. The trillium have blosomed in my “neck of the woods”. Plenty of black flies too.
    I saw Canada geese with 2 young ones on my way Watertown last week. DEC stocked the St. Regis last week.

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