Outdoor Adventures with Gary Lee – Vol. 14
It takes a few days to get my body back on a daylight schedule and sleep nights, but I have a barred owl in the backyard who is still awake all night calling for his supper. It must be finding good stuff under the bird feeders, as it has been here four nights in a row. I hope it goes away before I start banding saw whet owls. Last year, as soon as I started playing the saw whet tape, a barred owl was around looking for a snack. With all the wild food I see on the bushes and trees, I think its going to be a good year for most of the critters that live in the wild, both birds and animals.
The monarch butterflies are having a banner year so far, barring any mowing machine cutting them down or their food, there should be lots of monarchs flying west again this Fall. I have about twenty in chrysalis already and am just waiting for tags in the mail to tag them when they hatch into beautiful orange and black flying machines. Just think of how many times they must flap their wings going across the country to Mexico. There must be lots of energy in the flowers that they feed on to propel them there.
I still have two loons sitting on eggs and, by my count, they have been for more than thirty days, so those eggs probably aren’t viable and won’t hatch. These adults may have been put off the nest for two long and the eggs got cold before the adults got back on the nest. One of these adults was calling for its mate to make a nest switch the other day, but the mate wasn’t responding and maybe it knew they had been sitting there too long already. In the last couple weeks, the chick in the egg is filling out in the shell and both heat and cold will affect them hatching more than the first couple of weeks they are in the shell. One of these pairs has been trying for eight years, that I know of, and hasn’t had a successful hatch yet.
Another pair that I watch had a third nest with two eggs each time before getting off with two chicks. They also did this two years ago, also getting off with two chicks, which takes a lot of energy on their part. They had three eggs in the first nest, but that one got flooded out. There was one pair being watched out in Michigan which had three young on the water with a pair. I’ve only seen this two other times, with all the loons I’ve watched. Both times only two chicks survived.
I got down to the ice meadows, just north of Warrensburg, where lots of special plants grow right along the Hudson River. This area gets scoured with ice nearly each spring, but these plants seem to have adapted to this environment and survive through the ice covering piled on top of them. It had been several years since I visited this area with Evelyn Green from North Creek, who has studied this area for years. She showed me a maidenhair spleenwort in a rock outcrop there and I found and photographed it still growing in the same place on the face of a rock ledge.
Plants that I found not far from the shore of the river were: cardinal flower, harebells, butterfly weed, sweet fern and many grasses, small bushes and trees that get cut off each spring by the moving ice. I picked some seeds from the butterfly weed years ago and I now have them growing on my property. They are a type of milkweed, which the monarchs will lay eggs on and I had several caterpillars on mine last year. There is only one place on private land in this area where I’ve found harebells growing, and they are along a river. They look like very delicate blue bells hanging down from the plant. There were a few hundred growing along the Hudson. A neat place to visit if you are in the area and there is parking lot on the back road to Warrensburg, just before Cronin’s Golf Course Resort. It’s a short hike out to the river from there. I found several downy rattlesnake plantain orchids along the trail to the river, which were just past blooming.
Many of our summer birds are starting south for the winter, but that’s another story. See ya.
Join Dr. Nina Schoch, the Executive Director and Chief Scientific Officer of the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation, who will speak on the center’s research on nesting success in Adirondack loons at the annual meeting of the Fulton Chain of Lakes Association (FCLA). Her talk will be at 7 p.m. in the Community Room at the Inlet Town Hall. The talk is free and open to the public, although contribution to the work of the Adirondack Loon Center will be accepted.