Outdoor Adventures with Gary Lee - Vol. 49
The two inches of snow at the beginning of the week put another hold on spring. It bent over many of the flowers that were struggling to grow in this long cold spell, since the snow went away early. My daphne bushes along my driveway have pushed out their pretty pink flowers. These bushes do not get very tall, maybe three feet at the most, because just normal snowfall will sometimes bend and break them off at ground level. They are deer resistant and, coming first from Russia, they are used to cold weather. Bill Marleau first showed me these bushes in the ditch near the old trailhead to Bald Mountain. There are still some there today. I saw some over by Third Lake Creek Bridge just yesterday as I was picking litter along the roadside. There are still some pigs out there driving vehicles where the trash is thrown out roadside. The person who drinks FOUR has thrown out over forty cans along the South Shore Road, so they must be a regular traveler there. If I ever caught them, I would put him or her in one of these cans.
The snow pushed several birds to the feeders that had been feeding out in the bare ground woods. New birds were also coming north and found my feeders by following the bird calls of all the birds already using the feeders. New birds this week were Flickers, Yellow Bellied Sapsuckers, Brown Headed Cowbird, Rusty Blackbird, White Throated Sparrows, Chipping Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow (a new bird banded and seen at Eight Acre Wood), Tree Swallow, Kingfisher and just this morning, 4/26, a Ruby Crowned Kinglet. The kinglet was hanging out with the over fifty American Goldfinch at the feeders, most of which are wearing bands put on during this week. You must look close at these little birds, as the Golden Crowned Kinglet has just a little yellow around the red on its head. They flare this up as they flit around, and you can see this with binoculars.
The morning of the snow fall, Stephen Skinner from the Liquor Store called to tell me that an American Woodcock was found on Route 28 in front of the store last night, sitting on an egg. He moved the bird off the road, and it was between the buildings across the street. I went down and the bird was still there sitting in two inches of snow. When I reached down to pick it up it flew about three feet and landed again. When I reached a second time it flew about one hundred feet and landed with some Robins and Juncos behind the buildings. These birds had rolled up lots of leaves looking for food and we left the Woodcock there. I think it may have been bumped by a vehicle and with this strain, it laid an egg. It then instinctively tried to sit on the egg to keep it warm right in the middle of the highway. The egg was broken, but I am sure the bird has a nest not far away. It probably found its way back and is sitting on eggs right now. They normally have three to four eggs.
The Loons are back. I hear them calling as they fly overhead, going from Limekiln to Sixth Lake. The other day, I heard a battle out on Limekiln Lake with lots of calls and splashing around on the surface of the lake. This time of the year, they do have some knock-down, drag-out battles for territory. The population has grown in the last few years, so these territorial battles are occurring more often. There are lots of single birds who are not mated, which sometimes cause problems among pairs. Last year, right on Limekiln in the outlet territory, there was a spare female which hung out with the pair all summer and caused a problem, as this pair never nested. I guess the male could not keep up with two females.
When they have their young and another loon lands in their territory, there will be a battle as the interloper would sometimes kill the chick, if given the chance. Some of these battles are to the death, when one of the fighters stabs the other bird in the back, causing a killing injury. The females will also fight, but normally not to death. I guess they are smarter than the males.
The hummers are on their way north and will be here soon, but that’s another story. See ya.