Outdoor Adventures with Gary Lee - Vol.10

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Outdoor Adventures with Gary Lee - Vol. 10 

I must start off with this headline in a tweet, “High Peaks Trails don’t meet design standards”. More than half of the trail mileage in the Central High Peaks Wilderness Area is too steep. Maybe make lift lines to the top, so they don’t have to walk uphill. It’s hard to walk downhill while going up a mountain. I always thought the objective was to walk uphill to the top. Now that many of the trails are being worn out from overuse, I guess they want to move them to another place where it's not so steep, and they probably will. You still must go up sometime or you won’t be going to the summit.

This is more a picture collection of things I saw and did this week. I’ve always wanted to go out on Valcour Island in Lake Champlain, where there are many rare plants and some neat orchids. It’s maybe one of the best places to see rams head orchid in the state, when in bloom in late May. I was invited by Dan Spada, who was the wetlands specialist for the APA and is now retired. He went on the Remsen Bog Hike and a few other places with me over the years and knows how much I like plants. There were twelve of us in the group, all plant lovers who mostly spoke in scientific names. I had to ask what the common name was a few times. Steve Young, a plant specialist for the DEC, was there with a steward who recorded all the plants we saw and identified. The best one for me was Loesel’s Twayblade, of which we found twelve in a wet area we searched. This area was full of baby wood frogs that had hatched out of this wetland. You had to watch where you stepped. There was lots of poison ivy, especially along the shoreline. 

While doing a boreal bird survey, I saw the Eurasian milfoil collection boat working in the Marian River, sucking up this invasive plant. From what I saw, they will be doing this for a very long time, maybe years. Partway down the river, I found a big group of tree swallows that had just fledged, and they were being fed by their parents on the abundant bug supply there. A dead tree was decorated like a Christmas tree with birds. I got up to a count of thirty- eight before they all took wing. Right in the same area, I did get 2 Olive-sided flycatchers and a catbird. 

Above there, in Utowana Lake, I was able to find a loon on a nest and a big snapping turtle waiting downstream for a snack. Lots of rose begonias in bloom along the shoreline and on the bogs there. Got a shot of one with a clump of pitcher plants and sheep laurel on a log. More orchids in the bogs I’ve visited than in years.

Speaking of loons, we lost both five-week-old chicks on Sixth Lake to what appeared to be a boat hit, as one’s beak was broken. If anyone has information on this, I would like to know how it happened. Out of over twenty lakes that I watch, I only have one chick on the water. High water from the five inches of rain, washed out several nests and many of these never renested. If you see chicks on the water, please give them some space, as they are having a tough year for reproduction.  

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Wild flower collection                                                        






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Loon on a nest


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Eurasian Milfoil collection

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Island group photo





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Loesel's Twayblade




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Wood frog



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  • Debra 01/08/2019 8:41am (2 years ago)

    It was sad to read your take on what happened to our two baby loons on Sixth Lake.
    I had hoped it was due to natural predation but feared it may be because of inconsiderate water craft operators. Over the years our loons and their chicks have survived normal boat traffic. Boats drive in a relatively predictable pattern and when they pass, the surface is clear.

    However, the weekend the chicks disappeared there was a lot of jet ski activity on the lake and that raised a red flag for their safety.
    The baby loons were just learning to dive.
    The jet ski operators drove swiftly and turned erratically, sometimes repeatedly circling in a spot, taking off, then circling again. They were even out in the evening - which is not supposed to happen.
    If the loons were under water there would be no chance to surface safely.
    What a sad ending.

    Grateful that you were able to recover them to help determine what happened.

  • Karen 18/07/2019 3:34pm (2 years ago)

    Gary, I really enjoy your articles. The year sure is a tough one for the lions. Could you consider writing about the beaver on Limekiln. For the first time this year we actually saw one and there seems to be some new activity. Are they active? .

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