Outdoor Adventures with Gary Lee - Vol. 76
I’ve been out and about everyday this week. Got wet a couple times, but not snowed on yet. That looks like it might come today and tomorrow. I took down my owl nets today, as the snow would probably have put them down for me and into the leaves, which wouldn’t have been fun to pick. I tried several nights this week and had no luck, only catching leaves and ending with a cold speaker that wasn’t talking. I put a heating pad under it last night, which kept it going under the full moon, and still no takers, so most of them may have passed.
At the feeders, I’ve had some new birds: three Fox Sparrows, none of which are wearing bands, and a dozen Evening Grosbeaks over the span of a few days, all females one day and then all males the next. I caught and banded eight so far and I think there are more to come from the north. Star Livingstone called me this week to tell me she had them at her feeder and the next day mine arrived and haven’t left. The Slate Colored Juncos are still here in big numbers, as are the Black Capped Chickadees, most of which are sporting a band. I have caught and banded several juvenile chickadees as they arrive daily. I’ve also caught several chickadees that I banded over the years, back to ‘14 and ‘15 and the old one from 2009, which will break the record for age if I catch it this month. I did pick it out of the net twice last week. One of my White Breasted Nuthatches that I had banded in 2018 hit a window. I did get a Blue Jay that I banded in 2015, which is the oldest one of those I’ve had return.
If you go out in the woods, it’s a different story. You can walk for a couple miles and hear one Pileated Woodpecker or flush one grouse, as there is hardly any wild food out there. Last fall, the beech were covered with nuts and that food lasted most of the winter for the Turkeys and Blue Jays. Even the Deer continued mining nuts until spring. The little critters like mice, chipmunks and squirrels also had a banner winter and kept breeding, as you have noticed in and around your house or camp this year. If you haven’t, you’ve had your head in the sand. The spruce, pine, tamarack and balsam had a banner cone crop and not many birds were around to eat it, but the red squirrels enjoyed the seeds as they piled up cones by the bushels. Some birds feasted on the cones, but most went unnoticed as they ate in silence.
This year, a different story in this neck of the woods. Not a nut to be had and most of the berries were eaten by the abundance of mice and chipmunks before they reached human hands. I never had anything eat the berries off my daphne bushes and this year they are all gone, mostly from mice I believe. I got into the blackberry bushes only twice and had lunch, but after that, there were no berries to be had. The bears may have gotten a few, but the little critters got most of them, as they were like an army out in the wild, as well as in your camp or home. The hawks and owls must have had a feast without even trying. I know the Broadwing Hawks are usually picking off American toads when they breed in my pond. This year, I saw no hawks, but I had plenty of toads. They were finding enough mice that they didn’t need to eat toads.
The fires to the east of California got the benefit of 6 to 12 inches of snow last week, which put these fires down and controlled. The fires in California continue to burn with winds in some places over 70MPH and several had to flee their homes. Officials there are hoping for some precipitation to slow the spread of these fires.
Super typhoon Goni, the world’s most powerful storm in four years, smashed into the Philippines with 195 MPH winds, killing 10 and leaving many homeless. This storm is likely a Category 5 hurricane. Another cyclone, tropical storm Atsani, has entered the country and should gain strength. These are things many are missing as they worry about the virus and the elections.
From what I’ve seen, the deer are beginning to rut and will be on the move, so be watchful on the highways as deer may cross in your path most anywhere in this area, not just by the deer crossing signs.
I’ve seen many hikers wearing all black as they stroll through the woods and no other colors. I think bears are all black, so be aware that it is big game season and wear some orange or red outer clothing while you roam through the woods. Hunters should be aware of their targets and what is beyond, but why take the chance!
First snowfall can come anytime and may have, but that’s another story. See ya.