Outdoor Adventures with Gary Lee - Vol. 159
T-storms rumbled all around us the other night and even shut off the TV dish for a while, but we only got a quarter inch of rain that night. One mostly wet day was Thursday, but then it was only light rain that fell and didn’t even keep me out of weeding in the garden. The winds have been the big thing with white caps on most of the big lakes most all week into the weekend. Even some of the smaller ponds were tough to travel on in a small craft like a Hornbeck boat. My 17- foot canoe had all it wanted on the Cedar River Flow on Friday with three-foot swells and white caps, which the wind blew the tops off. I stayed along the north shore, and it wasn’t too bad as the wind was strong out of the NW. I saw an older fella, actually he was younger than me I found out, in his rehabbed canoe he found at the dump out on the flow. He kept close to shore on the north side and made it back to the landing just as I got there on my return trip. The Loons had nested, and they were complaining about some campers at a site which wasn’t far from their nest site. The female stayed on, and the male was the one complaining. This was a new nesting site, but I guess they didn’t know the camping site was so close by, they will have to deal with it.
I did some Boreal Bird Surveys this week before watching loons the rest of the day. One morning I was on site surveying before six and the birds were singing away, as well as the mosquitoes and blackflies buzzing in my ears. I didn’t put on my bug jacket as it restricts my hearing some, so I just put on some bug dope and swatted some. In each survey, there are five stops, ten minutes each, with spacing in between stops so you don’t hear birds from the other stops. I was moving from the first stop to the next one and I had to pass a campsite that was occupied. No one was up when I went by walking the first time, but when I walked by toward my second stop someone was up with a big black lab outside the camper. That dog saw me, and he charged toward me with fire in his eyes. All I had was my clipboard to fend him off to keep him from biting me. His master got his attention before I got bit and he went back into the site. The dog was put in the truck and the man apologized, but I was pissed as my camera had dropped out of my pocket onto the road while defending myself and broke the viewing screen. The camper said, “is that you, Gary?” and I said yes, but I didn't have time to talk, and I went along to finish the survey.
Many people don’t realize that a dog that is as tame as a kitten normally can change in an instant when they are in an outdoor environment at a campsite or on a trail and they need to be under control. There may have been a bear around that site during the night and the dog just reacted to defend the site, I don’t know. I did see fresh bear tracks further down the road, but I didn’t look like a bear that morning or smell like one either. I sure didn’t want to be bitten at 6:30 to start off my day.
The next day I did another Boreal Bird Survey near Helldiver Pond, starting before six at the parking lot and going from there to the pond landing for stop two. There were enough mosquitoes around that they could have held my binoculars, but no moose this morning. I was doing this same survey on 6/16/2009 when I walked out on the platform and looked across the pond, there was a big bull moose who later got named Harold. The mosquitoes were thicker that morning, but I got my canoe and photographed the moose for over an hour taking over four hundred shots. Not this morning, so I moved to stop three by a small bog pond north of Helldiver. Just before getting out in the open, I heard a Merlin and then a Gray Jay. Out by the pond, I heard more Gray Jay calls so I Saw Whet Owl called, and one called back, but I said to myself that’s a tape call. I said “is someone over there with a tape?” and a man answered yes. My time was up for that stop, and we met from a distance across the bog. He was doing some Atlas birding and he said there was a Gray Jay. At my next stop I saw a Gray Jay with a couple young ones following along, great find.
Later that day while checking a loon pond, I found a Loon on a nest and the boat blew around and spooked the loon off the nest. I was close enough that I could see three eggs in the nest which is a rare find. I took a quick photo and left the area and the Loon got back on the nest. It is rare to see a Loon family with three young and I’ve only seen it once at Cedar Lakes many years ago.
The Spongy Moth caterpillars are doing a lot of damage again this year all across the state. Years ago, the State DEC had a pest control program where they sprayed for these pests with airplanes to try and control them. They put down a lot of chemicals into the woods, but never got them under control. In places the towns had to sand the roads, there were so many dead caterpillars it was making the roads slippery as ice. I don’t know if that is being done in some areas this year or not. My brother who lives on Willsboro Point over on Lake Champlain, said his driveway is green just from the poop from these caterpillars. His wife Ruthann sent me pictures today of the bare oaks in their yard. These same trees were defoliated last year.
Missed the Strawberry Full Moon, but the planets are lining up just before sunrise in the SE skies, but that’s another story. See ya.
Above photo: Three loon eggs in the nest
Bare oak trees by Ruthann Lee