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, May 28, 2022

Final days at the Crown Point Banding Station: 424 birds of 54 species banded

Back in Inlet again where the leaves have popped out and I missed many of my daffodils as they bloomed during the warm spell while I was away. My little Yellow Lady’s Slippers are even starting to
bloom. Of course the blackflies are out, which is one thing I didn’t have to fight at the Crown Point Banding Station. There are no running water streams near the station so no blackflies, but we did have a few mosquitoes some evenings. We did see a few bats, which may have fed on these.

Another bug that gets into our nets while they are put up overnight is the June bug. They are not fun to pick out at daylight while putting up the nets, but we only had a few of these this year. The conclusion of our 47th year ended Saturday, May 21 with three new bird species that day. First was a Great Crested Flycatcher which had been singing since day one in the area. Number two was a Yellow-Bellied Flycatcher that was heading north to a bog of choice, and the third was a Black- and- White Warbler which had been seen the day before and nearly the last bird caught on Saturday before we closed the nets.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, May 21, 2022

Crown Point Banding Station record: Banding a Yellow-Breasted Chat and Hairy Woodpecker for the first time

Another week gone by at the Crown Point Banding Station, and we survived the big storms that rolled through yesterday afternoon (May 16.) We pulled the nets, and took the canopies off their structures (as possible 60 MPH winds were predicted, and these sun shelters are only rated for no more than 15 MPH.) We sat in our vehicles as the storms passed mostly to the north and south, but there were a couple that went right overhead and dumped rain on us. To the north we heard that quarter-inch hail had accumulated to an inch on the ground.
We had several exciting events during the week up in the sky, including the blood moon on Sunday night (May 15)… that was neat. I had photographed this a couple times before over Limekiln Lake. We had rain showers during the afternoon that day, but I got to see the full moon rise only to have it go under a big black cloud for about an hour during which I napped in a chair outside. When I woke up, the moon was just popping out again about one third covered already. I took photos as it gradually covered turning a bright orange and completely covered about 11:30. I went to bed then as more clouds were moving in and covered it again. After the storms yesterday it was cloudy most of the night. This morning, May 17, just before we put the nets up I photographed the nearly full moon in some neat clouds.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, May 14, 2022

Banding birds at the Crown Point Banding Station in Essex County

I’m writing this from the Ticonderoga Public Library as I’m at the Crown Point Banding Station for two weeks banding birds. We’ve had nets up for four days and banded several birds but very few warblers, including two species of Warbler Palm and Yellow Warbler. Some Yellow Rumped Warblers have been seen in the area, but we have caught none.
Normally we catch more of these than any other bird, but not in the last couple years. Typically, it is a competition between them and American Goldfinch. We have caught several Goldfinch, but Blue Jays are ahead on the leaderboard by far and it doesn’t look like they will be beaten. Still another week and a half to go. These next few hot, sunny days aren’t very good days for catching birds as they fly right over the banding station heading north without stopping.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, May 7, 2022

Spring cleaning in the Adirondacks: Yard work and clearing blowdowns and debris from trails

Well, it froze every morning this week, and even spit some snow, but nothing stuck here. They had spring skiing at both Whiteface and Gore Mountains this weekend which must have been a late season for both. I worked around the yard, saw a few blackflies in the air, and they bombed me a few times. Better get out those hummer feeders soon, as last year they came here on May 4. That’s not an early date, but more than a week earlier than the year before. They almost always get here before Mother’s Day, and I’ve had to thaw out the feeders more than once to keep them going. Even with these cold temperatures some of the little wildflowers have popped out such as trout lily, coltsfoot, and spring beauty.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, April 30, 2022

Capping Sanibel Island vacation, Crown Point Bird Banding Station open May 7-21

The trip home from Florida was an adventure in slowdowns, first on I-75 in Florida, on I -95 in Georgia, and on I -81 in Virginia and Pennsylvania. Karen was driving each time. One slowdown was for an accident nearly 30 miles ahead. This was the only accident we encountered during our trip down and back. With all that traffic, you would think we would have seen more, but it was not so.

Driving down our driveway at Eight Acre Wood with the daphne bushes blooming on both sides was a nice way to end our three-day trip. The trees were so green further south all the way through Virginia with lots of redbud trees in bloom. The trees were less green as we traveled into the “non-green world” to the north of that. We saw lots of snow damage to the trees all the way through Pennsylvania and New York from the wet snow.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, April 23, 2022

Bird watching with old and new friends on Sanibel Island

It sounds like the Catskills and Adirondacks are going to again be blanketed with six to twelve inches of wet snow which might take down some trees that have started to bud out. This won’t be good for the birds that have already moved north. Many are being hit with the bird flu and those that have died (or are dying) will be eaten by predatory hawks and owls which will in turn catch the flu and also die…not a good deal in the bird world.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, April 16, 2022

Sanibel Island pond frenzy: More than 100 birds amongst alligators one chaotic morning

I’ve been hearing from some of my northern neighbors that snow is still falling, but the ice is out in some lakes and Loons have returned to those open waters. Other big predator birds like Great Horned Owls and Barred Owls, Bald Eagles and Peregrine Falcons may already be on eggs or at least looking at nest sites. The Peregrines just lay their eggs on a rock ledge, building ledge or bridge beam with no nest material.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, April 9, 2022

Sunshine, sand, and a sunglasses-clad Sheltie on Sanibel Island

I see that some snow is still falling on you folks up north, but it is in the eighties down here on Sanibel Island and the water is also very nice. Just before leaving there was a world of birds still using the feeders and several birds feeding on the carcasses on the dam. The last evening, I had a mature Bald Eagle and immature Bald Eagle feeding right up until dark. The bunch of Slate-colored Juncos that had come out of the woods or moved north were under the feeders right until dark as well.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, April 2, 2022

A traditional Adirondack Spring with the return of old man winter, lots of bird watching

Old man winter returned today (Sunday, March 27) as it snowed most of the day. I hadn’t checked my little pond behind the house, but it wouldn’t surprise me if there would be some wood frog eggs in it after the warm week we’ve had. Last year I saw eggs in some little pond along Trail 5 when there was snow all the way around them. I don’t know if those made it, but the ones behind the house hatched.

The newts feed on those little polliwogs and so do baby painted turtles. I watched them catch some right by the dock at Francis Lake one day. It was a busy day in the bird world today (March 27) as the snow was on the ground when I got up and it snowed most of the day. Looking down on the dam at the carcass there was a Red-tailed Hawk, six Ravens and two Turkey Vultures working for a snack.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 26, 2022

Youth hockey team, the Inlet Mighty Loons, capped memorable first season

Spring has sprung on this first day of spring (Sunday, March 20) and my daffodils would have bloomed yesterday if the sun stayed out, however it started snowing which shut them down. The crocus usually come out first, but they have only popped out of the ground and the daffodils have flower buds ready to pop. Coming home from Utica on Friday (March 18) with temperatures in the fifties (and even sixty) I kept mentioning there are more Robins along the shoulder of the road. My wife, Karen, said, “I hear you, yes, there are lots of Robins.”

My neighbor Eric Sutherland’s sugarhouse [Maple Moss Sugarworks] has been cooking 24/7 this last week with lots of guests visiting his operation. He is into it big time and I’m learning more every day about his operation. With each day freezing at night and thawing during the day this next week he should be making maple syrup every day. He loves to show people his operation and he will be glad to sell you some of his products.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 19, 2022

Flock of 100 snow geese fly over Ferd’s Bog, full house at feeders

Winter held on [as of March 14] with a little more snow and cold weather giving the snowmobilers and skiers another weekend to do their thing. The cross-country skiing was the best it has been all winter with enough powder on top of the crust you could just about ski anywhere and still have control. The couple of warmer days before the snowstorm encouraged a few birds to move north.

As I went out to move the new fallen snow on Saturday [March 12], I heard a Robin and had two Grackles at the feeder. A few others that I contacted had Redwing Blackbirds and then on Sunday [March 13] I had a Song Sparrow feeding among over one hundred mixed flock of Purple Finch, American Goldfinch, Pine Siskins and one lonely Common Redpoll.

That same day over at Ferd’s Bog I had a flock of 100 Snow Geese flying west into the wind go low overhead. I picked up another male Red Crossbill on Parkhurst Road [in Inlet] on Sunday [March 13] so I don’t think that pair will have any young with no one to feed the female on the nest. There may be only three cars that travel that road a day, and I’ve picked up five dead Crossbills there in two weeks. I also saw a Raven flying down the road with a Crossbill in its beak, so I don’t find them all.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 12, 2022

Ferd’s Bog hike results in peaceful serenade from White-winged Crossbills

It’s Sunday evening (March 6) and we just came home from the movies in Old Forge in a howling wind with the temperature at 55 degrees which breaks the record of 43 degrees set in 2004. The power was off a couple times during the movie but came back on, so we didn’t lose much of the plot. As this weather (with changing temperatures) came across the country a few tornadoes touched down across Iowa and one near Des Moines killed 7 people including two children.

This string of unsettled weather is now going through the southern part of New York with quite a bit of red showing on the weather map. This warming trend and the rain overnight last night pretty well whipped many of the snowmobile trails and most of the paved roads they had been using which also bared up. There were some washouts in the Moose River area that the snows this week filled in nicely by the groomer. These were those frozen culverts that I mentioned last week which will have to be repaired before opening in May.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 5, 2022

Inlet’s Frozen Fire and Lights: Outhouse races, a crowd-pleasing addition

You would have to be like an Ostrich that hides its head in the sand not to have heard or seen what is happening to the democratic country of Ukraine. The invasion of the Russian army was done under the orders of their leader, President Putin, to take over this country (which did nothing to provoke this attack.) So far, Ukraine has held their ground and kept the Russians from taking over any major cities or toppling their government. Over three million residents have fled the country to the west into Poland, Hungary, and other neighbors to the west with nothing but the clothes on their backs. If you just listen to Fox News and former President Trump (both who have given praise to what President Putin has done), you need to watch a different channel. My prayers go out to the army and the people of Ukraine who are defending their country and their homes.

On a brighter note, one of my amaryllis has its last bloom. This bloom is from one of the three bulbs that I planted in the garden for the summer. I dug up these bulbs when I put the garden to bed, cut off all the green leaves and put them in a cool place in the cellar for over a month. I repotted them just before Christmas and two of the three produced tall shoots with four blooms on each. You could try the same thing if you have an amaryllis that now just has big green leaves.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, February 26, 2022

Counting birds for the Great Backyard Bird Count leads to a rescue on South Shore Road

Some people could be making maple syrup this week with the above normal temperatures we are going to get and some more rain. The rain we got last week is still running off in places even with the below zero temperatures we’ve had since then. Several folks to the east of Whiteface Mountain in Jay and Au Sable Forks on the West Branch of the Ausable River had a couple ice jams that flooded several residences and washed away some vehicles when they broke loose. Some of those vehicles could be in Ausable Chasm or even out in Lake Champlain as they rolled down the river in the ice flow.

Recently, I was reading about the log river drives and thought if they had logs in the South Branch of the Moose River Stillwater by Camp Nine this year, those logs would be gone and headed for Lyons Falls. They had a couple scares when they had the river full of logs a couple of years ago, but the ice held until the spring break up before going down river. I looked out last Friday morning and water was four inches deep going across my driveway, so I knew something was wrong with the culverts. Actually, the culverts were fine, but the snowpack was damming up the water before it got to them.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, February 19, 2022

Observing resilient winter breeding crossbills raise their young

It was minus sixteen this morning (Monday, February 14). I was feeding the birds just after sunrise and the trees were popping and snapping as the water that collected in their cracks was expanding very loudly. Last night the deer didn’t come through to clean up the fallen seeds from the feeders, so the blue jays took advantage of the opportunity. They were working on those and carrying them off to a safe place for hiding. Yesterday I banded my 50th blue jay since the first of December. They keep coming in from some place and the others move south. The highest count I can get at any one time at the feeders is sixteen, but I know there are many more than that if they all came together.

I mentioned before how the jays fill their beaks with seeds and fly off with them to store somewhere, just in case I don’t feed them anymore. Their beaks are full of sunflower seeds or corn when I catch them in the potter traps. They are so full, in fact, that you can see it while I have them in hand and they can’t chirp (or bite) while their beaks are full. Most times, I can see the seeds and they let me band them, and measure a wing. They also usually let me check for age by looking for bars on the outside feathers of the wing before they go out the window to freedom. And they are still holding those seeds when they are released by the way. Blue jays are one of the most placid birds in hand while banding them. Very often they just lay still and watch what you are doing with their big black eyes. However, their feet are active and grab on to anything that touches them, like your fingers, a pencil, or the banding pliers…and they have a fairly good grip.

» Continue Reading.



RSS Latest News Headlines

  • An error has occurred, which probably means the feed is down. Try again later.

RSS Latest News Headlines

  • An error has occurred, which probably means the feed is down. Try again later.

Wait! Before you go:

Catch up on all your Adirondack
news, delivered weekly to your inbox