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.

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Saturday, February 19, 2022

Local Olympians compete with support from Uihlein-Ironman Sports Fund

2015 luge world cup

Nearly $33,000 awarded to athletes and organizations in the Olympic region

Three competitors at this year’s Winter Olympics received a boost from the Uihlein-Ironman Sports Fund at Adirondack Foundation.

The Uihlein-Ironman Sports Fund (UISF) was established by the Henry Uihlein II and Mildred A. Uihlein Foundation, Ironman North America — now known as World Triathlon Corporation — and Adirondack Foundation. These local organizations have teamed up to help athletes from Lake Placid and the Olympic region achieve their sports dreams, and to help nonprofit organizations that foster and promote life-long sports and healthy lifestyles for local kids. The fund awarded nearly $33,000 in grants and scholarships this year.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Bones, Metals, and Medals: Figuring Out the History of Ice Skating

olympic oval ice skating rink The lighting of the torch in Beijing on February 4th signified the beginning of the XXIV Olympic Winter Games, where many of the athletes are wearing ice skates as they compete for medals in figure and speed skating and ice hockey. While many people will watch these talented athletes on television, others will brave the weather and go to the local pond or outdoor rink to pass the puck or to simply skate in the crisp winter air.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Winter Wonderland Week 2022: Events slated for Long Lake and Raquette Lake Feb. 18-25

Ice Golf at 2019 Raquette Lake Winter Carnival

There is a little something for everyone during Winter Wonderland Week in Raquette Lake and Long Lake beginning on Friday, February 18 to Friday, February 25. The festive week kicks off with day one of Raquette Lake’s annual Winter Carnival and an 80’s-themed skate and pizza party in Long Lake on Friday, Feb. 18. Raquette Lake’s Winter Carnival is set for Feb. 18 -20 and will feature an evening concert with the Jamcrackers at the Raquette Lake Chapel, a ladies’ frying pan toss, games for kids, ice golf, a cross-cut and chainsaw competition, a bonfire and fireworks, and much more.

The fun continues all week long with a slew of community-centered activities including skating and sledding races, a cross-country ski tour, a trivia night, tubing at Oak Mountain, an hors d’oeuvres tour in Long Lake, and the return of Long Lake/Raquette Lake Winter Bingo.

The Long Lake Hors D’Oeuvres Tour is set to return on Friday, February 25. The event is sponsored by the Town of Long Lake Parks, Recreation & Tourism Department. Participants will take a free shuttle service to area restaurants to enjoy an evening out in which they will have the opportunity to sample specialty appetizers created specifically for the event and vote for the best appetizer at each location. Participating restaurants are: The Long View Lodge, The Adirondack Hotel, and The Long Lake Diner. Reservations remain open until Monday, February 21. Those interested are encouraged to register for the event early as seats will be limited to 60 guests. Registration can be done online here: https://mylonglake.com/tour/. Call (518) 624-3077 for more information.

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Saturday, February 12, 2022

Finding fun after winter storm by snowshoeing, skiing, and analyzing animal tracks

The cold temperatures are back after a short day when they got above freezing just before the massive storm that crossed the country and hit us. Freezing rain and rain were predicted, but all I had here was twelve inches of snow which the snowblower ate for about three hours in order to clear the 950 feet of driveway. I cleared the bird feeders with the scoop first to get them something to eat and they flocked right in as the temperatures were dropping.

My feeding flock of birds hasn’t changed much in the last couple of weeks. I put some bands on a few of them, mostly blue jays caught in the potter trap. The most I’ve counted has been 14 to 16 jays at one time. However, I’ve banded over twenty of them in the last couple of weeks so some new ones may have moved into the feeders. I had a high count of 32 purple finches and 22 slate-colored juncos. I believe all the juncos are wearing bands, but only about ten of the purple finches have bands.

I know the birds went through forty pounds of sunflower seeds in less than two weeks. While much of that has been stored by the jays and the chickadees, the finches and juncos eat every seed they are able to get a hold of. The pair of tufted titmice have been regulars but only one of them is banded. Only a couple of American goldfinches have been hanging around and one common redpoll has been battling for places on the platform with the finches and jays. The sharp-shinned hawk came through early this morning and nailed another junco for a snack. In answer to someone who commented on my last column asking if I caught the hawk and banded it. I didn’t catch it, as I would have had to have the net up in order to catch this bird as it flies through.

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Saturday, February 5, 2022

NYS Bird Region 7 waterfowl count results, visit from a sharp-shinned hawk, and a fish tale

Well, winter stayed with us for another week. We got a few inches of snow nearly each day and it sure remained cold with temperatures some days not reaching above zero…with a wind to boot. They sure got hammered to the east of us with some places getting two feet of snow and wind speeds up to 99 mph. That will certainly pile up snow in places and bring in waves off the ocean just like a boom hurricane.

Then way down in Florida they had freezing temperatures, and it dipped to below 46 degrees for the first time in more than 10 years. Kathryn Ruscitto, View’s Board of Directors Chair, said the iguanas were cold and falling out of the trees. She said the public was being asked to collect these invasive species and take them to a veterinarian or wildlife rescue/rehabilitation center where they could be humanely euthanized. The low temperature at the Florida Keys International airport reached 46 degrees, breaking a record set more than 65 years ago.

My daughter, Erin, sent pictures of snow on the beach sand on Myrtle Beach, but she said there was not enough to make a snowman. It looks like we might finally get a good bit of snow during the week as a low front is creeping across the country and should reach us about mid-week. No predictions yet, but I may have to get out the snowblower for this one.

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Thursday, February 3, 2022

A perfect cold-weather hike

cobble lookoutCall it reverse ageism, but I have concluded that breaking trails after a heavy snow is a job for younger people. This, after slogging up Blueberry Mountain in Keene last year through 14 inches of fresh powder. I made it to the top, but it was work, and as the late Junior Sample said on Hee Haw, “work, that just kills me.”

So with that in mind, I set out to take advantage of the recent snowfall by visiting a trail that I figured was certain to be well trod. The Cobble Lookout Trail in Wilmington is only eight years old. And it’s a lesson in the speed at which an Adirondack trail can go from undiscovered to popular to a quarter mile hike along the road just to get to the trailhead.

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Sunday, January 30, 2022

Town to Town on the CATS trails

turnpike signBy Mary McGowan

I saw on the Champlain Area Trails (CATS) map that there is a town to town hike starting in Port Kent and ending in Ticonderoga. Well, Peter and I were game. Since we could not go to Spain and walk the Camino de Santiago, we decided to do el Camino de Ticontiago!

Looking over the map we pieced together the trails we would take and made a guess at the mileage. Choosing the number of days, we would walk lead us to what towns we would sleep in and where to eat along the way. Planning our meals to coincide with restaurants being open was a challenge.

Choosing a Tuesday as our start day, we drove to the Port Kent train station and parked the car there as I felt it would not be in the way since the train is not running. With a clear sky we started out with our trusty walking sticks, small backpacks of dry socks, toiletries, change of outfits, sweaters, light rain jackets, water and snacks.

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Saturday, January 29, 2022

Frigid temps, Northern Shrike encounters and fishing derbies

We finally had a whole week of winter weather with very little snow, but temperatures were in the single digits during
the day and way below zero at night. Our low here at Eight Acre Wood was -28 degrees one morning and -25 degrees
another morning. It was pretty zippy cold when I went out to feed the birds at sunup. The birds were all sitting on their feet trying to eat in that position. The blue jays had a tough time doing this and they tried to open sunflower seeds between their toes. Their numbers have increased as they haven’t been able to find a beechnut in a few weeks. The little birds stay out of their way as they know a blue jay is capable of having them for breakfast just like a sunflower seed if given the chance.

I did have a predatory bird, a northern shrike, come in this week. It tried to catch one of my slate-colored Juncos that was in my potter trap. The other three doors were down so I went out and opened them. Not wanting to let a meal go by, the shrike came right back and went in another compartment to get at the Junco who was just hunkered down to keep from being caught. The door went down behind it, and I had the shrike. I let the banded Junco go unharmed. This is the fifth shrike I’ve caught here at Eight Acre Wood in the potter trap trying to get at another trapped bird.

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Thursday, January 27, 2022

PSC, North Country students complete winter expedition in High Peaks

winter expedition

Students at Paul Smith’s College recently completed an eight-day winter expedition in the Adirondack High Peaks led by instructors in North Country Community College’s Wilderness Recreation Leadership program.

The two colleges partnered to offer these students an experience in North Country’s Winter Practicum course, which includes instruction in snowshoeing, skiing, mountaineering and backcountry camping.

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Thursday, January 27, 2022

View arts center to host Olympian Roundtable Discussion with Erin Hamlin, Robert Esche and Hank Kashiwa on Jan. 29

As a lead up to the upcoming Olympic games in
Beijing, View, the Center for Arts and Culture in Old Forge, will hold an Olympian
Roundtable Discussion with Erin Hamlin, Robert Esche and Hank Kashiwa at 3 p.m. on
Saturday, January 29. This event is free and open to the public.

Following the roundtable discussion, View staff welcomes everyone to the Opening Reception for the art exhibits
Winter in Action, The Winter 46, Lawrence Van Alstyne’s Olympic Poster Series, and Take the
Scenic Route: A Journey Through America’s National Parks from 4 to 7 p.m. The Opening
Reception is open to the public and will include hors d’oeuvres, a cash bar and live music
featuring John Kelsey. To help celebrate the events, View will offer free admission all day
to its galleries.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2022

New Opportunities for Recreation in St. Lawrence County 

kildare mapDEC recently announced the amendment of the Kildare Conservation Easement and the Five Mile Conservation Easement Recreation Management Plans (RMPs) to include new opportunities for public access to recreation in the Adirondack Park. The Kildare and Five Mile conservation easements are located in the towns of Hopkinton and Parishville, St. Lawrence County.

The amended RMPs will open the Kildare Conservation Easement to seasonal public motor vehicle and overland access for the first time since the easement was acquired in 1989. The easement will become accessible after the construction of a new half-mile connector road between the Kildare and Five Mile properties, which will open 16.1 miles of existing roads for public motor vehicle use and make the entire Kildare tract more accessible for non-motorized access and activities such as hunting, hiking, and wildlife observation. Planning for the road’s construction is underway. Road design and construction are anticipated to take several field seasons to complete. Additional updates will be shared after the road is complete.

Visit DEC’s website for information about the 2021 Amendments to the Kildare and Five Mile Conservation Easement Tracts.


Monday, January 24, 2022

Enjoying Winter 

There’s no getting around winter. So you might as well get into it. Right?  Enjoy a good book, binge-watch Netflix, savor warm drinks, and cozy up beside the wood stove or fireplace for hours with your music (and your sweetie).

But, being active and getting outside are vital for our health. And most northern New Yorkers will tell you that access to year-round outdoor recreation is a bonus; one of the blessings that comes with living here. We have the Adirondack Park, along with many other local and state parks, forests, waterways, recreation areas, and trail systems that make the region attractive and accessible to families and friends who enjoy getting outside together. Unless it’s dangerously cold, winter weather is no reason to stay indoors.

For kids, winter is the season of snowballs, snow forts, snowmen, snow sculptures, snow angels, sledding, tobogganing, tubing, ice skating, and fat (tire) biking. And for families and friends, there’s snowmobiling, downhill skiing and snowboarding, cross country skiing, snowshoeing and winter hiking, winter camping, dog sledding, ice fishing, and winter carnivals.

If you live in northern New York, you live in the middle of, or at least near, some of the best outdoor recreation in the east. In fact, outdoor winter recreation is a rich part of the region’s heritage and a vitally powerful and sustainable economic engine that supports local businesses and contributes to healthy local communities.

So, put on your long johns, layer up (consider several high-quality, moisture-wicking layers), and grab a warm coat, hat, boots, perhaps a scarf, and a well-insulated pair of toasty gloves or mittens. Because, as I’ve heard it said, ‘there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.’

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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

The Wild Center adds snowshoeing, kicksledding, and ice fishing to winter programming, continues to host Wild Lights exhibit

The Wild Center has recently announced a few additions to its winter programming including free snowshoe and kicksled rentals, guided ice fishing on its Greenleaf Pond and three ice sculptures which have been arranged around the campus. These experiences – and more – are available Fridays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with timed ticket reservations.

The Wild Center continues to host its Wild Lights exhibit presented by Merrill L. Thomas, Inc. on Friday and Saturday evenings from 5 to 7 p.m. when the 115-acre campus is transformed into a winter wonderland with thousands of dazzling lights. During the week of February 18- 26, The Wild Center will be open every day and will remain open in the evenings for guests to enjoy the Wild Lights exhibit.

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Monday, January 17, 2022

DEC installs new Five Ponds Wilderness footbridge

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has replaced a 30-year-old footbridge in the Five Ponds Wilderness Area in the town of Fine, St. Lawrence County. The newly installed Glasby Creek footbridge is located on the High Falls Loop Trail, which is part of the popular Cranberry Lake 50 trail system.

To complete the project, DEC staged bridge materials at the SUNY ESF Ranger School in Wanakena and DEC staff canoed up the Oswegatchie River to reach the construction site and replace the bridge with materials and equipment delivered by a New York State Police Aviation helicopter. The materials to replace the bridge cost approximately $2,000 supported by the New York State Environmental Protection Fund.

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