GL 249 Large Leaf Begonia

Outdoor Adventures with Gary Lee - Vol. 249

Winter is making a late attempt to be winter white this week, but it is too late as my daffodils are about to bloom. This snow will insulate them from the cold for a few days but with a few sunny days they will be in bloom. The hiking on many trails has been very icy and now with that snow cover it makes it even more dangerous and slippery. A pair of spikes does help, and I have worn mine on a few hikes locally. They have not tripped me up too much, but I did take a dip on the lower side of a beaver dam I was crossing which was quite chilling. That ended that day’s hike as I took on a little water in each boot, filled my left side pockets and one mitten. No one was watching except for a couple of mallards who were laughing at me as they flew away. 

More birds are coming north with flocks of geese going north everyday and many summer birds have been showing up locally. Some of the winter birds that came down from Canada and went further south have been moving north also. Pine Siskins moved into my feeders in big numbers during the last week along with several American Goldfinch and Purple Finch. Diane Bowes had a couple Robins in Big Moose, and a few were seen along the highway down by Okara Lakes. Going to Utica the other day I saw none and now they will have to find a swamp to get some food or pick the fruit left on several crab apple trees or some of the mountain ash that still have berries. Looking at some of those trees that had fruit along the streets and parking areas in Utica I saw that they had been picked clean during the winter. I’m sure the Starling population that I saw on other trips to the city picked them clean in no time. Many birds that depend on worms or insects when they return north use these food sources to carry them through until they can get back to meat eating. I remember we had to cover our strawberries as the Robins would feast on them. 

My sister Wendy who lives in Clifton Park and feeds all the birds has a large population of Cardinals at her feeders and this year she has several Eastern Bluebirds feeding there. They had been eating the bird seed, but she bought a Bluebird feeder in which she puts mealworms, and they love it. I don’t know how she controls English Sparrows and Starlings but the pictures she sent were only Bluebirds feeding at the feeder. I’ve seen and heard Eastern Bluebirds in the Champlain Valley during duck counts, and they were feeding on berry trees and in the open spring fed swamps around the lake along with Robins. 

Sticking with the birds a Yellow Billed Loon landed in the large Bellagio fountains at a hotel in Las Vegas. It had been reported in a body of water north of there earlier this winter. The Yellow Billed Loon numbers are the lowest of the five species of Loons. The Yellow Billed Loon is a little larger than the Common Loon and nests along the coast of Alaska. This big bird needs a bigger body of water to get airborne just like the Common Loon so it wasn’t going to get out of this fountain which also contained no fish for it to eat. The Nevada Department of Wildlife caught this Loon and released it in a bigger body of water near there.

A few years back an adult Yellow Billed Loon was way off course and landed in the West Canada Creek below the dam on Hinckley Reservoir. It went up and down the river by the bridge below the dam for a few days. I got to see it the last day it was there, taking several pictures and I watched it fly off. It was getting plenty to eat from the river. I’m sure it landed on one of the Finger Lakes which wasn’t frozen on its way west. 

A couple of my indoor plants have been growing like gangbusters this winter. One a cactus that I got a piece of from a park on Sanibel Island where it had nice yellow blooms. This climbed trees there and it is trying to find one as it climbed my indoor window this winter. One shoot has grown over four feet looking for something to cling to but hasn’t found it yet. We do put it out during the summer where it might find something on the porch to cling to. 

Another plant that I got from an Old Forge Garden Club member, a large leaf begonia has grown nearly four feet also and it has bloomed from three different stems during the winter. I staked it and then tied the other shoots to the stake, but it just keeps going up.

The local Adirondack Art Show will be opening at View Arts March 22 but that’s another story. See ya.


Photo above: Large Leaf Begonia