Outdoor Adventures with Gary Lee - Vol. 63


Outdoor Adventures with Gary Lee - Vol. 63

Hurricane Isaias turned into a tropical storm as it heads for the Florida coast and will turn back into a hurricane before hitting the South Carolina coast. From there, it will head up the coast, hitting states and big cities along the way with up to seven to ten inches of rain. 

We got some storms of our own on Sunday, 8/2, with rain in the gauge of over an inch. I haven’t checked it this morning, but I believe there will probably be more, as several thunderstorms passed by before midnight with a possible tornado up near Newcomb. We were going out last night to try and catch the male loon with fishing line wrapped around its bill, hanging around from Eagle Creek to the Inlet beach front. We tried for him a couple times during daylight, but he would dive and come up many feet away. We haven’t tried for him after dark, but maybe tonight.

Last week, I caught a male loon down in First Lake with the help of Kerry Rogers and his son. This bird had a white plug in its wing since 6/30, then reached back and got hooked in the nares, so its head was backwards. I netted the bird near the beach on Hollywood Road and we removed the plug but there was some infection in the wing where the plug had been for nearly a month. I boxed the bird and met my loon boss, Nina Schoch, a veterinarian in Long Lake, where she cleaned out the wound, gave it fluids and antibiotics. We put on a silver band and released it in Jennings Pond behind the hotel there to be checked on this week. I haven’t heard how it’s doing. 

Fishermen and women need to be more alert when fishing in areas where loons are fishing, as they will hit a moving lure, thinking it’s one of their food sources. It’s not easy to reel in an eight to twelve -pound bird and most of the time the Loon will break the line before it can be boated. Most people would probably cut the line rather than try to handle a Loon with a plug in its beak. 

Four of us, and sometimes five, banded several loons in some lakes we haven’t sampled in years, just working out of a canoe, all wearing masks all the time. We did several lakes in this area and only missed catching loons on two of them: Little Safford and Little Moose Lakes. On the last one, I had the big male in the net twice, but couldn’t get him in the canoe before he climbed out of the net. It took us a while to find the pair and chicks on the lake, but when we did, the male had both chicks riding on his back when we approached him. I moved them off with the net, but they would jump right back on and I couldn’t net him until they got out of the way. The lighter in the front of the canoe could actually touch the bird; they were that close, and those colors of green to black on the head are beautiful in the dark. 

Before that, we were at Gray Lake where we first caught the three- week old chick and took samples, then put it back on the water and let it get back with the adult male we had caught. This male was first banded in 2001 on First Lake, but has been on Gray Lake for several years. This was a single chick from the second nest, as an egg from this nest had rolled out of the nest. They lost their first nest on one of my platforms when waves went over the platform.

Other lakes we sampled locally were: South Pond, by Long Lake, where we caught and sampled both adults, Dart’s Lake, where we sampled the five- week old chick hatched from a platform, Francis Lake, by Number Four, where we caught and sampled the female and chick, North Bay of Big Moose, where we caught and sampled the adult female, and Rondaxe Lake, where we caught and sampled the banded male who was first banded in 2011, and just missed catching the female at daylight. 

Up north, working out of Saranac Lake, we traveled to Chaumont, north of Cranberry Lake, where we sampled the two chicks and just missed catching the adult male. We then traveled to Newton Falls Reservoir, which is just downstream, across the road from Chaumont. The fog was dense, but we found the family and caught a big chick, which was big enough to band. That’s the first chick we’ve banded in several years. So that ended our limited banding for this year. 

Loons try and try without a successful nest or raising chicks, but that’s another story. See ya.



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  • Tom Vawter 08/08/2020 4:11pm (1 year ago)

    That looks like Boloria silene (Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary) in Gary’s picture.

  • Bob betz 08/08/2020 11:53am (1 year ago)

    The male loon on 6th lake has something in his hind quarters. He’s been picking at it for 3-4 weeks. He can dive and care for his chicks but he doesn’t seem happy.

  • louis curth 07/08/2020 8:29am (1 year ago)

    Retired NYS forest ranger Gary Lee's interpretive writings about nature are a precious gift that enable all of us to deepen our understanding and appreciation of the Adirondacks. Thanks Gary.

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