The leaves are changing, and may peak this week if they aren’t all put on the ground with the wind and rain. I watched from my window as many leaves fell on the pond most of the day today, September 25. That was better than the snow that fell on Friday morning [September 23]. Some say that Blue Mountain wasn’t blue, but white on top, that morning as were several of the High Peaks. About this time of year, Karen and I go on a leaf-peeping trip through Vermont and New Hampshire into Maine to get a lobster dinner.
Another year has passed for me, and only one more for the “Big 80,” but things are looking good on this end. For others on this side of the globe, things aren’t looking so good this morning [Sept. 20]. Hurricane Fiona has clobbered Puerto Rico with over thirty inches of rain and strong winds that have again devastated their power grid five years to the day when they were hit by Hurricane Maria. They had just about recovered from that one and everything got laid flat again. The hurricane heading north hit the Dominican Republic and will end up in the Canada Maritimes. This will also push high tides all along the east coast while going north.
No hummer seen today [Monday, September 12] but there may be some stragglers coming through, so we leave the feeders up for several days and if we don’t see them for about five days, we call them gone. They sure have been a treat this summer, as they have buzzed around the front porch doing touch and go practice out on our five feeders. Going back to last weekend, my grandson Jake and I went up to the Woodhull Fire Tower on Saturday night to light up the tower. I was glad to have the company, and the sunset was beautiful. As the night sky crept in, we could see that looking east was going to be a problem as haze moved in with the darkness.
We got plenty of rain in the last week and it is still falling. One storm brought us over an inch and a half overnight, and the next one gave us nearly two inches in a couple hours. This wet down the woods in good shape, as not much of it ran off. My pond drain is flowing again, and that made the trout happy enough to start feeding again. For a few days they didn’t want to surface into the warmer water for food. Some folks as close as Forestport never got a drop out of the bigger storm. There was very little wind (just rain) so the power didn’t go out, but some folks lost their telephone service. The big storm shut off our dish signal for over half an hour one time, and then on-and-off for the next hour.
The rain last week sure helped with the forest fire situation. However, the lightning storms could have hit a dry stub or two which could burn for a long time before being detected, and may even go undetected. Many times, I’ve gone through the woods hunting and found where a fire had burned for some time and had either died out by itself or was put out by rain. It may happen this time, as we will be getting more rain this week when a cold front comes through bringing thunderstorms. There’s no one up in fire towers watching anymore, but they may be seen by an airplane flying around the area.
We got several hit or miss showers last week, some with lightning and thunder. I went down to Sand Lake at the Adirondack League Club last week with Don Andrews to check on the Loon family there. The forecast called for a clear day and no rain. It was beautiful all morning (even at 50 degrees with a little fog) as we went across Woodhull Lake. We got down to Sand Lake and rowed around the many islands there looking for a used Loon nest, but we didn’t find one with egg chips in it.
The male Loon from the pair came up to the north end to see who was on his lake. We went out into the main lake and found the female with two chicks more than half grown with mostly gray feathers. They stuck to mom like glue. The male came by, said almost nothing and went on his way, leaving the female to defend her chicks. We took a few pictures using a long lens, as the sky to the north turned rather black with a few thunder rumbles.
I visited all my Loon lakes this last week, including some that I hadn’t been to all summer. I was happy to find some of those pairs had chicks. One was Woodhull Lake where there are five pairs of Loons, and a few of them are banded. A Loon called right off the dock while I was putting the boat into the water, but it didn’t have any chicks. Going up the lake, I got all the way to Brooktrout Point before I heard another Loon. I looked ahead, and I could see two Loons with a single chick. I didn’t even get close, and the male was penguin-walking to distract me from the chick and then both were up and penguin walking. I kept going toward the landing at the end of the lake and I bumped right into another pair with two bigger chicks, and they did nothing but swim away from me.
It was getting very dry as the pond was down three inches from the overflow. Because of the heat, the trout decided to stay in the deep water and not jump the last two nights. I got just about an inch in my rain gauge, which will help. The flowers keep growing, and my cup plant is over seven feet tall now and it just started flowering. I put a six-foot wire fence around it this year to hold it up and it is way over that. The bees and hummers like it, and then the fall warblers like the bugs it attracts, and the seed eaters like the flower seeds.
Fairly typical weather for the Adirondacks with warm days and cool nights with fog over the lakes brought about by the cool air over the warmer lake surface. We again had a couple rainy periods, so I didn’t have to water the garden or the flower beds. The flowers have been going like gang busters, lots of greenery and many blooms. The bee balm is in full flower, and I was just looking out the window before dark and there were six hummers searching out each red bloom and fighting over the next one.
Great Grand Daughter Milly Jade Peterson has been the hit of every party for our family out in the Rochester area. As the photo [below] will show, she is already a real show off. Speaking of hummers, Ted Hicks and I plan on being at Stillwater banding hummers on Saturday, August 6, but that hasn’t been set in stone yet. We usually get there about 7:30 a.m. and band until about 11 a.m., depending on how many birds are around. Right now, they are about at their peak number-wise with the little ones out of the nest, and males still hanging on territory.
It took a whole week with temperatures in the high eighties before the thunderstorms made it here. The storms dumped almost two inches of rain at Eight Acre Wood overnight, so again I don’t have to water the garden. I did have to water my tomato trees that are in pots almost everyday during that hot time. I’ve picked a few cherry tomatoes which are a tasty bite. The larger tomatoes are growing daily after I pruned off the leaves that had no flowers on them, and now I can even see tomatoes growing.
Most of my loons have hatched their young, but I still have one sitting on eggs. The male was glued to the nest yesterday while the female was at a neighboring lake fishing. If the eggs are going to hatch it should happen this week. Sometimes the eggs get chilled in high water and the eggs are not going to hatch. However, the adults sit on them sometimes for over forty days before giving up. Locally, most of the nests have been successful this year, and there are chicks on many of the local lakes. If you come upon them in your travels, give them some space. Don’t force them out into open water when they are hugging the shoreline fishing and keeping out of boat traffic.
A little rain kept my garden growing and flowers blooming. My bee balm has come out, giving the hummers a new place to eat in both the front and back yards. Karen and I sat on the front porch
yesterday (July 17) and the hummer feeders were a beehive of activity all afternoon. In the morning we had a mother bear come through with two of last year’s cubs checking out the bird feeders. The mother and one cub walked around the electric fence. The other cub got confused as to where the others went. It tried to go through the fence, but took a shot and backed off. Then it circled around looking for mom and hit the fence again. It left in a hurry that time, and probably will not try that again.
A few minutes later, there was a doe with twin fawns who were nursing together out in front of the house. It would have made a great picture as they were right in a sunshine spot, but the camera was in the truck. Many birds have been bringing their young ones to the feeders for a snack. Several Blue Jays with young have been coming every day. I set the Potter traps yesterday and caught five of the young ones. I also caught an older Jay that I had banded as a juvenile in July of 2014 which made that bird 8 years and two months old. That is one of the oldest returns I’ve had of a Jay. They usually eat and run never to be seen again, but not this one. I also caught some juvenile Slate-Colored Juncos who were still sporting some pin feathers.
We didn’t have any hot days during this last week and we had rain on-and-off during the week, just enough that I didn’t have to water the garden. I did, however, have to water my tomatoes in the buckets, which are more like small trees. So far, it has been a wonderful year for the flowers. The deer had hosta at the salad bar this week, while teaching her fawns which ones to eat and which ones not to eat.
The bear came this morning, but there was nothing out there for him to eat, so he just sat there waiting for me to put up the bird feeders and the electric fence gate. He hasn’t tested it yet since getting the feeders when it wasn’t on a week ago. There isn’t much in the way of wild food for them to eat right now but grasses, grubs, and ants, not many honeybee hives in this neck of the woods. Blueberries are popping up, which they feed on in the Moose River Area, and then they hit the raspberries and blackberries.
I got out on several different waters this week, checking Loons and doing some Boreal Bird Studies. I found some new nesting Loons and a few Boreal birds. Some things I found in my travels didn’t make me happy. One was the mess left up in the pit by Independence Lake. I believe the mess was made by celebrating students from the Town of Webb. I can’t prove it, but it happened on graduation night, as it has for the past three or four years somewhere on the Town of Webb Snowmobile Trail System.
A big bonfire of pallets, old furniture (and other things that will burn,) then toss in over one hundred empty beer, wine, and soda cans…and you can call it a party. Then you drive around it with some big trucks crushing other cans and bottles, and leave the mess for someone else to pick up…that’s pride in your area! We have a clean up day in May, which many students take part in making the area free of much litter left by visitors (and some by locals.) Maybe some of the students who left this mess could travel again to this area, and remove the stuff they left for others to see and pick up.
The longest day of the year passed on Tuesday, June 21 in the pouring rain, so who could tell? I missed the strawberry moon last week in the clouds, and when I did catch it in the middle of the night it was so low in the sky that it hid behind the trees even when on the second story. In the early morning before daylight, five planets are still aligned in the eastern sky, which won’t happen again for several more years.
The best place to catch this is on a lakeshore with a good view of the SE sky. The moon is at its smallest, so that shouldn’t interfere with your view. However, you must get out before the sun lightens the sky. Since I’ve been doing Boreal bird surveys starting at about daylight, I should get a few looks at these planets while traveling to these sites.
Some Loon chicks hatched this week in many places across the Adirondacks. Many more should hatch just before the Fourth of July, so be aware of them while you are out and about on the area lakes where we do have chicks already. Many will still be nesting, as they lost their first nest and have re-nested.
Thunderstorms rumbled all around us the other night and even shut off the TV dish for a while, but we only got a quarter inch of rain that night. One mostly-wet day was Thursday, June 16, but then it was only light rain that fell and didn’t even keep me out of weeding in the garden. The wind has been the big thing, with white caps on most of the big lakes most all week into the weekend. Even some of the smaller ponds were tough to travel on in a small craft like a Hornbeck boat.
My 17- foot canoe had all it wanted on the Cedar River Flow on Friday, June 17, with three-foot swells and white caps, which the wind blew the tops off. I stayed along the north shore, and it wasn’t too bad as the wind was strong out of the NW. I saw an older fella (actually he was younger than me) in his rehabbed canoe he found at the dump out on the flow. He kept close to shore on the north side and made it back to the landing just as I got there on my return trip.
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