Outdoor Adventures with Gary Lee - Vol. 105
It sure has been a cool Memorial Day Weekend with temperatures near freezing in the mornings and not getting above 55 during the day. This kept the black flies and mosquitoes at bay or wearing snowshoes if they came out, making them very slow at finding you for a supply of blood. I haven’t seen any damage to my flowers, but in some places, snow was reported in the air on Friday morning.
The east wind off the Stillwater Reservoir on Saturday morning, while Ted Hicks and I were banding Hummingbirds, made it a cool operation in more ways than one. We both had on long johns and a Gortex jacket to keep us warm during the banding operation. We had a few hardy souls to hold the birds after banding. When we arrived at 7:30am, it was a little over 45 degrees, which was about the temperature of the water in the reservoir. The birds were buzzing around to get some sugar water to keep up their energy. It wasn’t long and we were catching birds. There was a couple there early who had installed a weather station on the porch the day before and they got to hold the first birds. Kevin Virkler, forester for the ALC, and his wife, came and got to hold the next few birds. Being so small they wouldn’t keep your hand warm, but you might keep these little birds a bit warmer. Then some of Marian and Joe’s guests came with some small children and all got to hold a bird as they were hitting the trap, sometimes three at a time. Loretta Lepkowski and a friend got to hold the last few birds. This kept Ted busy as we did fifty new birds, a couple returns from this day, and one from last year in a little more than two hours. Most of the guests stayed for breakfast and enjoyed Marian’s good cooking.
Some early migrating birds got on nests early and are feeding young already and some water birds have young on the water with them already. Some hawks and owls also have nestlings in their nests and these adults are out and about getting food for their young. I had a Barred Owl out behind the feeders a couple mornings ago, looking to catch a chipmunk or mouse getting seeds around the feeders. The Osprey nesting at Moss Lake, Seventh Lake, and by the Road going into Raquette Lake should be feeding young soon. It takes these bigger birds many days of feeding before their young fledge the nests. Smaller birds like warblers, swallows, and robins have their young out of the nest in less than three weeks and sometimes even nest a second time.
Some loons are already sitting and will be on the water with their chicks before the end of the month. Others should be getting on their nests in the next couple of weeks. The blackflies were really bad around these nesting loons before this cold spell hit and I had reports of some of these birds abandoning the nests because the bugs were so bad. This happened a couple years ago when the bugs all came out at the same time, just like this year. When the temperatures got up into the 80’s many of the blackfly species all hatched out as the water in the streams they were in warmed up. They haven’t gone away, but just crawled under a leaf somewhere waiting for warmer temperatures again, so look out and be ready.
I got in part of my garden just before the cold temperatures and there were plenty of blackflies and mosquitoes helping me. I even had a couple deer flies around which normally don’t come out until the end of June or the beginning of July. Many of these flies feed on the wildflowers pollen before they become blood sucking insects.
A loon pair I watch on a private lake were getting their nest all in order last week and came over to see what I was doing while I was planting a tree on shore nearby. They swam up within fifteen feet and I saw the bands on the male. We had this bird in hand last summer while banding, but the female evaded capture. We did capture their chick that night also, but it was too small to band. We did draw blood and took some feathers from the young one for testing.
The fawns should be born soon, so watch out for moms crossing the roads with their little ones, but that’s another story. See ya.
photo above: Hummer banding
Loretta Lepkowski with Hummer