Adirondack loons, such as this beauty (above) riding the waves on Little Tupper Lake, are beautiful creatures, emblematic of the Adirondack region. But loons are also in danger from a variety of man-made factors including mercury contamination in the lake waters, lead debris from fishing lines, motor boats churning waters along the shoreline swamping delicate nests, and waterfront development.
Large creatures and small, on the water or in the forests or pollinating flowers all face considerable dangers from human pollution. Bees (photo above of a bee on a daisy along an Adirondack road) are in decline in many places due to pesticides and destruction of habitat. Declines and loss of each kind of creature have long-term impacts on human life as well — if bees are not around to pollinate, flowers decline and food sources become endangered.
Earth is a completely interdependent ecosystem — humans, birds, bees, insects, ducks, mammals, vertebrates, invertebrates, trees, flora and fauna, water and air — we need all of them working together in the harmony and balance of creation. Spending even just a few days on the edge of wilderness reinforces not only the beauty but also the wisdom of the divine plan of interdependency for all life on earth. So, as supposedly the creatures with higher-order intellect, why can’t we humans understand this and work to ensure that the environment remains in balance and is sustainable for generations to come?
Some of the smallest creatures in the ecosystem (like the beetle above on a bud) have powerful roles to play in sustaining the earth’s resources. Perhaps the politicians who so blithely wipe out environmental protections and climate change agreements should have to spend a few weeks living in the woods to get reconnected to the fundamental truths of our lives on this planet! WE do not “own” the natural world, we are part of it and stewards of it, and we have a large moral obligation — as Pope Francis proclaimed two years ago in Laudato Si — to take action to stop environmental degradation.
This young buck (above) with antlers starting to sprout could not agree more with the need for environmental protection!
Birds of all sorts are abundant in the Adirondack forest. Here’s a beautiful red-breasted grosbeak on a branch near Little Tupper Lake; I had not seen one of these before, it’s quite a sight:
Blue jays are abundant but never sit still, so I was lucky to capture this one in some brush along the side of a road leading to Horseshoe Lake:
And this American Redstart has black and orange markings that are quite handsome:
The bright reds, blues and oranges of the birds above are rare in the forest; most feathered friends are brown and mottled to protect them as they fade into the forest color scheme. Consider how this ruffed grouse, below, so lovely against the gray road then fades into the leaves as she hustles away from the photographer:
Meanwhile, on a rock in the middle of the West Branch of the AuSable River, two female mergansers and chicks bask in the late afternoon warmth:
We do not “own” any of these creatures, they are truly wild, living in the vast wilderness of the Adirondacks. But we do have a profound obligation to ensure the stability and health of their habitat, to keep the waters and air clean, to guard against destruction of the forest for the sake of economic gain for private interests. We also have an obligation to know the science of the environment, and to understand that climate change is real, supported by years of scientific research that demands action to stop the accelerating pace of destructive climate change.
Next up: wandering the Forest Preserve
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