Outdoor Adventures with Gary Lee - Vol. 45


Outdoor Adventures with Gary Lee - Vol. 45

After getting the four inches of wet snow at the beginning of the week, we have been experiencing spring like weather. The rain showers, wind, and warmer temperatures sure have cut down the snowpack to mostly northern exposures and shaded areas. In most other places, it’s just snow patches and I even heard a tom turkey gobble while on one of my hikes today. I’ve heard three different Ruffed Grouse drumming on logs in the last week while out and about hiking. 

Some folks down south got more rain than they needed, causing some flooding, but most are more worried about the Coronavirus than they are the flooding right now! It must be on everyone’s mind as it has spread all over the country and all over the world in just a few short months and weeks. So far, we have been spared, but it’s only a matter of time when someone local will encounter someone from outside the area or come back from their winter in the south and bring it with them. We canceled our trip to Sanibel more than three weeks ago now and the island and beaches are pretty much shut down now. People that own or who are renting can stay, but people coming onto the island is being pretty much regulated. They have few cases on the island, from what I’ve heard, and things are mostly shut down. Our condo just rolled over our reservation until next spring; same time, same place, God willing and the virus doesn’t get us. 

A few more flowers have poked their heads out and bloomed during this week. No daffodils yet, but maybe by the end of this week.

While out on the trails I’m still seeing folks without traction devices on their feet and several just wearing sneakers and not some kind of hiking boots, either leather or rubber.  Most of the trails were packed down during the winter and they have become icy paths through the woods, so be careful. 

There is a ban on outdoor burning so chip it up or wait until the ban is over and get a permit to burn it. Make piles around, as it affords hiding places for many ground birds and animals and some may even nest in these piles. 

In my travels, there seems to be a world of chipmunks who must have had late litters using the beechnut crop for food. I know some of my locals have been out under the feeders most of the winter eating bird seed. Their winter supply may have been flooded out with all the rainstorms we had during the winter, but by the numbers I’ve seen, many made it through. This should provide food for some hawks and owls, which will soon be on nests and some are already nesting. 

The Raven population has tapered off on my carcass pile, as these big birds are taking up territories and most are on nests by the end of the month. They get their young out of the nests before Memorial Weekend. 

On one hike the other day, out trail ten toward Goose Pond, I was at the washed out beaver dam, standing on the new bridge. The beaver pond that was there is just a big mud flat when the snow melted, with some water running down the middle. There were three Common Mergansers feeding in the water that was left who flushed when I came out in the open. Most of the open mud flat isn’t visible from the bridge and there must have been five Sandhill Cranes feeding around the bend. When they came out after ducks flushed, they must have seen me and taken flight as the first thing I heard was their calling when they took flight. They circled several times, gaining higher each circle and still calling. They took me by such surprise I didn’t even take out my camera and get their picture as they circled in the bright blue sky right over head. They got up just so high and caught a thermal and away they went north, still calling. About that time, I thought of my camera, but they were out of sight. That was a new bird for me in Herkimer County and a great bird that’s making in roads, maybe even nesting locally soon. 

They may be found in the new Bird Breeding Atlas, which just started this year and goes on for five years, covering all of New York State. This will be the third Atlas being done; the first one in the 80’s and the second one started in 2000. It’s nice to get a check on birds to see what changes have occurred in 20 years. 

The coronavirus and how it’s affecting the outdoor activities by keeping your distance, but that’s another story. See ya.



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