Outdoor Adventures with Gary Lee - Vol 28

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Outdoor Adventures with Gary Lee - Vol. 28

Winter has sprung upon us very quickly and many people are still hiking the trails with summer equipment, both on their feet and on their back; summer is over. Traction devices should be part of your gear, as temperatures in the single digits have iced up many trails and rocky areas along these trails. One slip and you may be carried out on a (rescue) litter, which won’t be fun for you and less fun for the people who have to carry you out. Mountain Man, in Old Forge, sells these traction devices that will fit right over your boots. I’ve talked to several people who have been up Black Bear and Rondaxe Mountains and told me that traction devices were a must for both climbs. I also talked to one person who turned around at the steep, rocky part of Black Bear because he didn’t have these spikes with him. Loretta and Peter Lepkowski went up Rondaxe this week and were glad they had the traction devises with them for the rocky ledges up along the top, before the fire tower. She said it was a beautiful day and a bald eagle sailed right in front of them while they were up there.

Other birds have been moving through the last couple weeks, and the snows drove some of them to my feeders. I had food on the ground and in feeders, giving all birds a chance to grab a snack. I caught several of them and banded them also. I would look out under the feeders and see three white throated sparrows, and then catch five in the potter traps, so they were playing hide and seek. I had two fox sparrows, but only banded one and the tree sparrows just kept coming. The most juncos I saw were 22, but I banded over thirty. I only caught one chickadee, but saw six or eight sometimes. I did catch one song sparrow the first day; they were all around. On my Project Feeder watch count last Saturday, most everyone showed up. On Sunday, I only saw about ten birds all day, so Saturday night must have been when they had taken another flight south in the moon light. Maybe some of my banded birds will be caught further south during their travels.   

One bird that doesn’t migrate is the spruce grouse. For the last few years the DEC has been doing a spruce grouse recovery effort. To meet their goal of maintaining the population over the next 100 years, wildlife staff believe they will need to release 250 adults from outside populations, into New York, over the next five years and manage habitat at several sites.

Staff released 34 adult spruce grouse and 71 young in 2018 and 50 adults and 111 young in 2019. Most of the females that were released in 2018 and survived until the 2019 breeding season, attempted to nest and some reared young. Approximately half of the released grouse lived to breed the following year, which is slightly below the average for resident grouse.

DEC urges folks to be aware of the presence of spruce grouse in the northern Adirondacks when driving on dirt roads, from as far west as Cranberry lake to as far east as Bloomingdale. They come out in the roads to eat grit and may be mistaken for ruffed grouse during hunting season. For more information, check out the Spruce Grouse Recovery Plan or e-mail angelena.ross@dec.ny.gov.

Weather related topics- California is getting some much-needed rain to help with their forest fires after six months with almost no precipitation. Down under in Australia, they are having one of the worse fire seasons in their history. Along the east coast, high tides closed some of the barrier island roads, and even washed into main land areas of Virginia, and North and South Carolina. Venice, known for its water ways to get around the city, was under much too much water, as levels in the city rose more than four feet. October goes down as one of the hottest worldwide on record. Today 11/19 it was 76 in Denver, and just a couple days ago, most Florida cities broke records for the coldest day in November, ever.

I have been out still collecting wildflower seeds. Some plants that have stiff stems will stand up even under this wet snow that came today. I got lots of fringed gentians along 28, just outside the snowplow lanes, and several milkweed seeds that have yet to pop through their outer husk, and they are full of seeds. I still got some yellow foxglove seeds, but most had fallen to the ground.   

Just today, the wet snow took down many of the beech seed husks. The ground under these trees was covered with them. I had never seen this many before, as almost every tree that had nuts shed them; quite a sight as they fell like rain under the trees.

Sad to hear of a hunting related death 11/17/19, Sunday morning. Joshua R. Morgan, 20, of Newport, hunting in a wooded area N. of State Route 5S in Frankfort, when he was accidently shot and killed by another member of his hunting party. This is still under investigation by the State Police.

Be careful of that lake and pond ice with all the ups and downs in temperature, but that’s another story. See ya.  

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Beechnut hulls on the snow

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Milkweed seeds

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Peter Lepkowski on Bald Mountain by Loretta Lepkowski

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  • suzanne Olson 22/11/2019 4:58pm (24 days ago)

    Thank you for Gary's column.. Will forward this one to my bird watching friends. Reassuring news. SAO

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