Related: Adirondack Chronicles

Adirondack Chronicles, Part XV

 
 

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On a muggy day threatening thunderstorms across the lake, my thoughts turn to the birds and the bees.  No, not that, for goodness sakes!  !   I’m thinking of the winged creatures with feathers and stingers, beaks and big bug eyes.

Bees are in trouble, according to national reports.  The mysterious decline in the bee populations does not bode well for agriculture, horticulture, and the many industries and people who rely on bees for everything from pollinating crops and plants to a dollop of honey in tea.  Like many environmental issues today, no one seems quite sure of the cause of the decline in the bee populations, nor what to do about it.

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In my own informal survey of bees here in the Adirondacks (no one will ever confuse me with a scientist, but I do have good observational skills!), they do seem fewer in number in the wildflowers along the roads.  Where I would expect to see dozens of bees hovering around the heather and wild lillies, there are just several.  Perhaps it’s the weather, or maybe it’s part of the real problem.

What I do know is that the flowers are beautiful up here, but a loss of bees could well mean a decline in the colorful flower displays all along the roads.  Just another small warning of environmental concerns we need to take seriously.

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Birds are in great supply up here, large and small, noisy and stealthy.  It’s chick season for all feathered things, so the sight of ducks and geese and osprey feeding and teaching their young is quite common.  I watched one wood duck the other day patterning her chicks by swimming up the stream, hopping on a log and then back into the stream, and each one of her ten little chicks did exactly the same thing in the same place as they paddled after her.  Cedar waxings (photo above) are abundant, and rarely camera-shy, unlike most of the smaller birds.

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Osprey are serious hunters — pity the poor fish who hang helpless from the talons of osprey parents bringing dinner to the kids.  Osprey also return each year to their nests, so I found this family high on an electrical pole in the same place in Crown Point as I observed them last year.

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The blue heron are elusive as ever, but I found this one hiding in the reeds on Tupper Lake… until she spotted the photographer and hurred off.

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Geese are not my favorite birds, but here in their natural setting they can also appear to be beautiful.  (I just wish they’d stay up here and off the soccer field!)

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Why spend time talking about birds and bees when there’s a war on, a crazy presidential election season underway, the economy is tanking and gas prices are forcing everyone to make hard choices?

Enjoying the beauty of nature is certainly a great relief from those important issues, of course.  But even more important, the health of our natural environment is also evident in the health of the small creatures.  We live in a completely interdependent natural world, and paying attention to the birds and the bees can also help the humans to sustain a healthier planet.

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Patricia A. McGuire, President, Trinity, 125 Michigan Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20017
Phone: 202.884.9050   Email: president@trinitydc.edu