Our New Year’s weekend was a washout for sure, with rain and warmer temperatures taking a toll on what snow we had. What I see out my front window is mostly bare ground where there was over 18 inches of snow a week ago. I had a fisher and a coyote visit the deer carcass on the dam during daylight hours, which meant they were hungry. There were four Ravens and a pair of Bald Eagles waiting their turn in the treetops on the other side of the pond. Now that the snow is nearly gone, I haven’t seen any of them. I still have over fifty Evening Grosbeaks coming daily to the feeders, and the two White-Throated Sparrows are still sneaking seeds and hiding in the brush pile. There are still some new Black-Capped Chickadees coming to the feeders as I’ve banded almost twenty hatch-year birds in the last two weeks.
Posts Tagged ‘Loons’
You skiers and snowmobilers can stop praying for snow, because we have it. [Or at least,] enough to ski and snowmobile on. Looking at the temperatures [ahead,] the bottom is going to go out on the thermometer (except for one day [with temps in the] forties before Christmas with some rain.) [People are] paying more for heating fuel oil or propane, and I hear you can hardly even get kerosene. Not many people heat with kerosene anymore, but tractor trailer drivers cut their fuel with it to keep it from jelling in cold temperatures.
Another thing that must be jelling is some local septic tanks, as I see the Egan sewer pumper on the road around here most every day. If you just put a couple packets of yeast down the toilet when you leave it inactive for a few months (or even when you are using it regularly,) you shouldn’t have to call the pumper. The yeast keeps the system working perfectly. Mine hasn’t been pumped in 20 years of use. I heard that at the Fulton Chain of Lakes meeting thirty years ago, stated by a couple local sewer pumpers, Chip Sauer and Rick Hunkins. They had all the work they needed, and they were just trying to save some camp [owners] and homeowners a few bucks. The old wise tale was to throw in a road-killed cat or woodchuck to start the system working when you first put in your septic tank, but you don’t have to do that… just a packet of yeast will do the trick.
I put some miles on the truck (and some on the ground) this week as I [traveled to] Paul Smith’s VIC three times, went brook trout fishing a couple times, and watched Loons on Lake Clear. [I also] photographed fall leaves, did some leaf blowing for several days, caught songbirds when the wind didn’t blow, and caught saw whet owls for four nights. Everyone asks [me] when I get the time to sleep and do all these things. I say, “I nap a lot.” I don’t know if I will get into all these [items in my column] as I must add a few politics this week, which I know you all like to hear just before Election Day.
The beautiful Hunter’s full moon is bright outside my window tonight [October 9] after a day of wind and rain showers that took lots of leaves off the trees. There was still lots of color in the sunny patches as I drove home from The Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation annual celebration at the Paul Smith’s VIC. Events were held indoors, as it was pouring outside most of the day. Coming home, I hit showers and then sunny patches along the way. I saw lots of shutter bugs out taking advantage of the sunny spots.
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.
Eye of the Loon
From the Miocene, thirty seven million years of primal memory
Tell me, that I am survival.
Convergent from strong gulls, hesperornithes, grebes,…
Black, white and gray, I am. Red-eyed Gavia, I am.
Densely-boned Great Northern diver, I am.
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.
I’m back from a short vacation traveling around upstate New York. One of our stops was Big Moose Lake in Eagle Bay. Dave and I went for a paddle and two loons shot up from underwater very close to our canoe. It was a moody weather day to boot, and when they dove underwater and popped up again, their howling calls made the hairs on the back of my neck stand. Here’s a snippet from our paddle after the loons swam further out. It was one of the top wildlife encounters of my life and particularly exciting for me since writing a second-grade report on the common loon (spelled “commen” in bright yellow letters on my poster board, but live and learn). In case you missed it, give Gary Lee’s piece about wrapping up loon-banding season a read.
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.
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.
Loon enthusiasts are encouraged to join retired NYS DEC Forest Ranger, and avid naturalist, birder, and photographer, Gary Lee, as he shares stories during an informational session about banding loons in the Adirondacks.
The presentation will take place on Friday, July 1 at 7 p.m. in the meeting room of Inlet Town Hall located at 160 State Route 28. The program is free and open to the public. For more information about this event, call (315) 357-5501.
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 in a weekly blog, which can be seen on The Adirondack Almanack and View Arts Center websites. In 2008, Gary coauthored a book with John M.C. “Mike” Peterson, “Adirondack Birding- 60 Great Places to Find Birds.”
Photo at top: Gary Lee with loon. (Town of Inlet website photo.)
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