Almanack Contributor Gary Lee

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."


Saturday, September 2, 2023

New York State fire tower lighting happening tonight

Woodhull Tower lighting in 2022

Tropical Storm Idalia is crossing the tip of Cuba right now, and it will become a hurricane as it crosses the Gulf of Mexico heading for the west coast of Florida. It is scheduled to hit at high tide on Wednesday, [August 30] with a 7-to-11-foot storm surge in an area that isn’t that much above sea level. People still claim there is no climate change, and that this is just a normal weather pattern. There are three more storms out in the Atlantic. The first one looks like it will stay out to sea, [however] where the other two [will] go hasn’t been determined yet.

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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.

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Saturday, August 19, 2023

More loon chicks killed/injured by human predators, witnesses urged to report incidents

Giant swallowtail

Last week had to be the week of rain for the summer. Some [areas got] six and seven inches in just a few hours which washed out trails, roads, and the railroad to Tupper Lake. I talked with one lady up at Twitchell Lake who said the water there came up over her dock and ten feet up on her property. It did some washing out of shoulders along the new paved road to the lake by the outlet. Some culverts were washed out on the snowmobile trail system north of Old Forge, so the system was closed to travel.

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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.

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Saturday, August 5, 2023

Three nights of loon banding, reminder to give loon families space

Loon banding on Sixth Lake

The temperature here this morning [August 1] was forty [degrees]…much cooler than the folks to the south and west of us are feeling. It rained two and a half inches here on Saturday, [July 29.] [This] got a few wet who thought the rain was coming later and they got caught out in a downpour…which soaked many to the skin. It rained so hard, it washed a little gully going down the road to the pond. [I’m] happy to report the male Loon which had the fishing plug in his tongue is back with his family this week on Limekiln Lake doing chick care as the female worked hard catching fish for their chick.

 

If you’re out and about on our local lakes, there are Loon families out there with you. If you are fishing (using live bait or plug and lures that look like live bait) don’t fish near one of these families as Loons can swim very fast underwater and take a bite at one of your baits or lures. Then you have a problem, and the Loon has a problem…your hook in its tongue. So be careful out there, and don’t fish near a Loon or a Loon family.

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Saturday, July 29, 2023

Rescuing a loon snagged in fishing line, hooks

loon with chicks

After working five all night Loon banding days with a day off in the middle you lose tract of time in there somewhere, mostly sleep. I missed the first night of banding in the Saranac Lake Area as we had a Loon with fishing line down here on Limekiln Lake to catch and release. Got a call from the caretaker at Limekiln Campsite that there was a Loon caught in fishing line seen on the lake. Since it was in the area where the Outlet pair had chicks, I assumed it was one of them and I was right. I got a hold of Amy Sauer to help with the rescue. Last seen in the bay by the boat ramp I got there before dark to see If I could locate the Loon before Amy came. I saw a Loon in the bay, but it swam under water from one side of the bay to the other and I saw no line on this bird. Amy came and we searched with lights around the bay, then started down behind the little Island there.

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Saturday, July 22, 2023

Checking on loons after the recent rain storms

Loon Chicks First Lake Dog Island

We just got lucky with all the rains, and washouts to the east, north and south of us. I had four inches of rain in my gauge when I came home from the west trip, got an inch the next day and then two days later when most of the damage was done to the east of us, I had three and a half inches in the gauge. Where the flooding had occurred, they were getting six to eight inches that day, and with the ground already saturated it just ran off causing washed out roads and bridges. Places that had never had that kind of water problem were under water for a time until it ran off, taking parts of highways with it and flooding homes and businesses.

Long Lake took the brunt of the flooding, but parts of Blue Mountain also had some damage. The little brook that ran out of the big beaver meadow along Route 28N must have had the big beaver dam blow out.  All that water coming down hill into town washed out the road to into town and then the road by Hoss’s Store in town, flooding some homes along the way. Then all that water going into Jennings Pond behind the ball field and hotel was too much for the outlet into Long Lake, so it ran across the road by the seaplane base before the causeway burst on the pond into Long Lake.

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Saturday, July 15, 2023

Reminder to respect, give space to wildlife & their young

Velvet Green Swallow

With the smoke from the fires in Canada being the big news, people were asking about the danger of fires here in the Adirondacks. Some forgot about all the water and where it runs when you get five to eight inches at a time. I don’t know how many floods I went through in the Moose River Area during my 33 years as a Forest Ranger there (and many times since I retired 24 years ago.) I know we lost the Governor Brook tube seven times…and still no bridge yet, they just fill in the hole.

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Saturday, July 8, 2023

Wildlife sightings out west: Bears, bison, coyotes, mountain goats, moose, deer and elk

 

Coyote

Arrived back in the Adirondacks today [Monday, July 3] after two days of being driven from West Yellowstone to Webster (and another four hours to get home from there today.) Made a stop at the Remsen bog on the way here and some of the showy lady’s slippers were still out. [I] also stopped to check on some of my Loons along the way. Some were still sitting, and others had hatched their chicks and were on the water with their young. So, if you are out and about on the water and see a family of Loons, give them some space and take pictures with a long lens.

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Saturday, July 1, 2023

Go West, Young Man: Trip to Yellowstone National Park

Moose

Here we go into Yellowstone [National] Park from the west entrance for the third time. Many adventures have occurred on [the days leading up to] our family adventures westward. I’ll fill [those] in as we traveled west in my next couple adventures. Here, we just went from Montana into Wyoming going into the park. We think we live in resort towns in the Adirondacks, but our motel (the Three Bears Inn) has more than four hundred units, which were all full.

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Saturday, June 24, 2023

June 16: Rare finds and odd happenings of past and present

Painted turtles

We got some badly-needed rain this week, mostly at night which was good for my Loon surveys. They don’t mind the rain, but I hate to get wet or wear so many clothes to keep dry [that] I get wet anyway. Some folks from Texas to Florida got much more [rain] than they needed with a foot to fifteen inches of rain in [one] day. Some got tornadoes along with these storms. One in the panhandle of Texas wiped out the town of Perryton with three people killed, one an eleven-year-old boy. Many of these storms had hail (from golf ball-size to baseball-size) as they swept across the south, leaving almost 600,000 [people] without power as winds were up to eighty miles per hour. Looking at the destruction of homes, it’s a wonder that more people weren’t killed.

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Saturday, June 17, 2023

Wildflowers, renesting loons, and blackflies pushing canoes

Yellow lady's slippers.

The smoke has gone away (somewhat) with the recent rain and wind change. With 8 million acres-plus on fire, that makes lots of smoke. It was so bad when I was out on the Cedar River Flow that it hid a thunderstorm because you couldn’t see the real clouds. Suddenly there was thunder booming not far away. I made it back to the landing and just got the canoe strapped onto the truck when the skies opened up. There was hail and a big temperature change of about fifteen degrees.

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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.

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Saturday, June 3, 2023

Witnessing Big Moose Inn fire, banding hummers at Stillwater

Loon on the water

This week there were two mornings with frost here at Eight Acre Wood; both mornings the thermometer read 28 [degrees.] The second morning there was ice on the car, but not on the bird bath. I washed off as many of the blooming flowers and three apple trees in bloom as the hose would reach, which may have saved them…time will tell. My yellow lady’s slippers looked pretty sad, but perked up after the bath of water. The Phoebes are sitting on eggs under the porch and the male was having a [hard] time keeping the female fed those cold mornings. He traveled way up the driveway, foraging for flying bugs and ants. They must have made it, as they are still sitting.

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Saturday, May 27, 2023

Final days banding birds at the Crown Point Banding Station, approx. 750 birds banded

Gordon Howard banding a bird with the watchful eyes of children

The Crown Point Banding Station closed its doors on Saturday, May 20, with a good crew taking down tents, canopies, [a] weather station, and nets in short order by 11 a.m. The rain that was predicted went around us and the strong winds also didn’t come while we were picking up. Tom Barber had the nets up (and a few birds already bagged) when I got up at 5:30 a.m. He had picked six June bugs from the nets while putting them up and I found just one in the nets I put up. As I came out of the tent he said, “The Gray Catbirds are biting this morning and that was the first bird, I picked out of the main net lane.” He said, “I got a new bird for the year, a Brown-Headed Cowbird out of the North net.”

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