Outdoor Adventures with Gary Lee - Vol. 97
Winter tried one more blast the day after we went south, but it didn’t mount up to what all the weather experts predicted. Only a couple inches, just enough for an April Fool’s joke which went away about as fast as it came. Now with temperatures in the seventies, the lakes should be out in no time. Our daffodils were just about out by the house and most of the crocus were already past.
The Turkey Vultures were circling overhead, and the Ravens were getting all they wanted to eat. Some of the Ravens are already on eggs, as are the Barred Owls and Bald Eagles. Some of the smaller birds had moved in and I banded 20 Song Sparrows, 30 Slate Colored Juncos and one Common Redpoll one day just before I pulled my net. There were three Fox Sparrows around for three days, but they never went in the Potter Traps or the net, so they went north without a band.
I hope everyone who needed a vaccine got one after they put the age limit down to 16, but you still need to wear a mask even among friends. Most people down here on Sanibel Island have been wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing.
Before I left, all of the twelve Chestnut Trees had popped out their nut shells and put up a new tree sprout. They all had a root when they arrived a couple weeks ago and I just put them in pots like you would a new house plant and watered them, nature did the rest. Whenever I planted acorns, I just punched a hole in the ground and dropped in a nut and let them come up on their own. When these Chestnuts get about a foot tall, they are going in the ground outdoors and in a fenced area, so the deer don’t get a nibble on them. These trees at one time did grow in the Adirondacks and they were a prime food source for the Passenger Pigeon. These birds at one time would darken the sky when they flew over in flocks and the loss of one of their prime food sources probably didn’t help when they were going downhill in numbers.
Just the day before we left, I looked out on the new snow fall and saw Ermine tracks running all around the house and bird feeders. I finally got to see it as it found a fallen ham bone and was trying to drag that to a hiding place. Then it burrowed under snow and it was gone for a while. Then it popped out with a mouse in its mouth and ran under a brush pile. When it had finished that meal, it came back and dragged off the ham bone into a culvert. I was able to get a few shots with the camera before it disappeared.
That same night, a male Fisher came and took a small beaver carcass off the tree, which the woodpeckers had been feeding on. The only reason I knew it was a fisher because I had a trail camera watching the area and got several pictures of this animal along with lots of woodpecker shots.
On the way down to Sanibel Island, we made a stop just south of Sarasota at the Myakka State Park. We have stopped there many times and took a walk out on the boardwalk where you can view much of Upper Myakka Lake. We got there about nine that morning and it was cool with a strong wind blowing. Several people visited the platform while we were there, but not many were birders; most were looking to see an alligator. Since it was so cool, most of them were laying low in the water or under water. We did see one swim by when one group was there, and we saw one big one in the Myakka River on the way out of the park.
There were several good birds wading and birds flying over Upper Myakka Lake. Three White Pelicans sat right in the middle of the lake most of the time we were there. As we were driving in, there were several big wire traps set along the park roads and we found out they were set for wild hogs. We had never seen them there before, but this time we saw a large bunch of them on the far shore, and in another spot a mother with several little ones feeding right along the shoreline. An adult Bald Eagle flew over the lake and flushed most of the birds that were feeding there, but most just circled around and landed again to feed in the shallow water. One flock was of about forty Black Skimmers and not far away was a flock of thirty American Avocets. I had never seen that many Avocets in one place before, usually only one or two.
Looking for more migrating birds coming north from South America, but that’s another story. See ya.
Above photo: Ermine
Little chestnut trees