Outdoor Adventures with Gary Lee – Vol. 11
Well if the heat didn’t get to you, your fans must have been working on overtime. We use the reverse of heating, with the stored heat under the cellar floor. We have it in for winter so we can cool the ground temperature around fifty degrees during these hot spells in summer. This is how the 26 wells under the parking lot at View work, only with water from the wells, which is also about fifty degrees. If you’ve ever been in a cave underground you know what that temperature is; some are colder than others, but most are 45 to 55 degrees. It is also total darkness when you turn out your headlamp. It’s a neat experience if you’ve never been to a cave, but anyone claustrophobic, I won’t recommend it.
I don’t know if you have looked up into the beech trees in the forest, but it looks like it’s going to be a bumper crop of nuts. There looks like a nut at almost every leaf intersection, with the main branches of every tree. This should keep the bears happy and out of your garbage when these nuts get ripe. The smaller beaked hazelnut bushes are drooping to the ground with all the nuts on them also. I’ve seen chipmunks go up in these bushes and chew down all the nuts, then go back onto the ground and gather up their prize. If you go out to pick some for yourself, wear leather gloves as the little hairs on the outside of the nut is just like handling insulation. To dry them, you must have a place where there are no mice or chipmunks, or your nuts will be gone when you go to have some to eat. They are very good.
This heat has done wonders for the butterflies, as I haven’t seen this many varieties in years. The monarchs are fighting over the milkweeds, which they feed on, as well as where they lay their eggs as they continue northward. I’ve already seen a few monarch caterpillars, and some have already gone into their chrysalis phases. These early hatches may go further north laying eggs, rather than going back west to stay for the winter. That’s why you can’t get tags for tagging them until mid- August. These early ones will die after laying eggs and their babies will be the ones going back west for the winter.
Other butterflies and moths are also out in good numbers. There were lots of battles in my big milkweed patch and there are plenty of flowers to go around. Today I had white admirals, red admirals, yellow swallowtails, great spangled fritillary, question mark, comma, American painted lady and northern pearly eye, plus lots of skippers. The skippers are the ones that fold their wings like planes on an aircraft carrier. They are much smaller than butterflies; most are about an inch and a half across. They flit around so fast it's hard to get a good picture of them.
Some of the second nesting loons are coming off with chicks, but not in very big numbers. Of the almost thirty-five nesting pairs that I watch, I only have one chick on the water and three still sitting on a second nest. With so many loons without chicks, they will be traveling around to find the best fishing. If there is a pair with chicks, there will probably be a territorial battle, which is sometimes to the death. Many times, the chick is also the loser. The distracted parents might leave them alone to fight off the intruder and other predators, hearing the battle, know it’s time to strike, like an eagle or snapping turtle.
There are some bears out and about, so be aware with your barbie grills and garbage, as they have a nose that can find this stuff. If you leave food in your car, that could be a mess the next morning, as they seem to know how to open doors or even break windows to get in. There is plenty of food for them in the wild, but if they get a steak or good garbage, they will be back. A fed bear is a dead bear, or at least it was last year.
A couple of our banded birds from the Crown Point Banding Station have been reported, but that’s another story.
Hummer in the beebalm