Outdoor Adventures with Gary Lee - vol. 6

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 Outdoor Adventures- 6/19/19

We had one day this week without any rain and many of the others were a complete washout.  Temperatures in the high forties and low fifties made it seem a lot colder with the wind chill factor. I was coming down Twitchell Lake in the pouring rain and was glad I had my fleece jacket under my Gore-Tex rain gear to keep warm. I did see bands on both pairs of loons that day, but one pair hasn’t made a second nest yet and the other pair hasn’t nested at all.

There were several fishermen on Francis Lake while I checking the loons by Number Four yesterday, 6/15, which was the first day of bass season. They were mostly in kayaks and not many wearing life jackets. Three of them put in their boats the same time I did, and I asked, “where are your life jackets?” They said in their truck, and off they went in two-foot swells and white caps. Once a ranger, always a ranger. I’ve dragged a few of those folks off the bottom of a lake, and that’s not a good day. Water temperature is still only in the low sixties, if that, and that makes for a cold dip. A baby painted turtle, no bigger than a half dollar, was washed up on shore at Francis Lake in the big waves, and I got its picture.

My brother just told me that one fisherman of the four whose boat sank, while fishing in the tournament on Lake Champlain this weekend, lost his life. The boat went down in four-foot waves, after taking on water. The other three fishermen were rescued by nearby fishing boats.

Catching up on a story from last week, the privy from Anne Labastille’s cabin was taken down by DEC operations during the winter, so don’t go looking for it in e-bay.

I think I mentioned all the pink lady slippers that are blooming this spring, but they are normally out by Memorial Day. This year, they are still in bloom in many places. I was talking with retired Forest Ranger, Terry Perkins, on Saturday along the road to the Stillwater Dam, and I mentioned all the lady slippers on the islands in Moshier Reservoir. He said there were plenty right around the Stillwater area also. Many of these were in clumps of four to six blooms.

The pitcher plants are looking great in the bog areas, with their bright red petals hanging down covering the clock face of the flower. The rose pegonias are sticking their flowers up, but I haven’t seen any in bloom yet. They need a couple sunny days.

We had the bog walk in Remsen, to see showy lady slippers today, in the rain, and they didn’t fail me. But only one was in bloom, way back on the far side of the bog. While getting there, one participant stepped in the wrong place or a soft spot in the bog and got one foot stuck, but it came out quickly. We got over to where the one lady slipper was in bloom and the lady next to me, no names mentioned, yelled “Gary, I’m sinking.” By that time, she was in up to both knees. Another fella and I got on each side of her and her feet sucked out of the mud with both boots still on. She said “I was going shopping after this, but I don’t think I will be, looking like this,” which was a tad muddy. I never did get a shot of the only bloom, but most everyone else did. We did find a green orchid right beside the highway, which I hadn’t seen there before. That one will probably get cut down when they mow the roadsides. We also found a tiny bird’s nest with three naked babies in a fern. They were probably the common yellow throat warbler, which was singing there most of the time.

I’ve had a few reports of fawns on lawns in Old Forge, but as of yet, I haven’t seen one. I did bump into three ruffed grouse families while going down the Mitchell Ponds Trail on Wednesday. One had about eight babies, who scattered in all directions as soon as their mother gave her whining call. I also saw a hen turkey right beside the highway, with ten to twelve babies just out of the nest. This wet weather isn’t good for baby birds on the ground. It’s also rough on birds trying to catch bugs in the air like swallows and chimney swifts. I watched them, one day, taking bugs right off the water of Little Safford Pond.

I heard on the TV this week, a 6,000-acre forest fire in the Tonto National Forest in Arizona. I was on a fire there in ’89, about that same size. We got off the plane in Phoenix and it was 119 degrees on the tarmac. I said to the crew, “this is going to be a warm fire,” but up in the mountains, it was cooler. On the second day, we had a gully washer thunderstorm that dumped five inches of rain and lots of lightning strikes. The fire boss radioed, “don’t get under or anywhere near the big Ponderosa Pine trees,” as they all had lightning steaks down them to the ground. The water ran off the mountain, carrying stumps and trees, and put out the fire. One firefighter on another crew was killed by a lighting strike and another was bitten by a rattlesnake, but he survived.

It’s not too late to get in the garden, and maybe even get a second planting, when the first one hasn’t even come out of the cold ground yet, but that’s another story. See ya.


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