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  • Adirondack Chronicles 2018.7: Broods Afloat

    July 15, 2018

    Back on my first blog of the season I wrote about the lone merganser perched on a rock in Tupper Lake, seeming to be looking for her brood.  Well, here’s a happier female common merganser, above, leading three chicks across the waves.  Three seems like a small brood.  Look at this brood for the duck mom below:

    This loon mom is keeping a close watch on her chicks including feeding them:

    She’s very happy after delivering that snack:

    Not all of the hungry critters are on the water, this red squirrel made short work of an acorn:

    And this deer looked up from munching leaves along the roadside but didn’t seem at all fazed by the long lens:

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    Adirondack Chronicles 2018.6: Birds and Bees

    July 13, 2018

    Gotcha! Not what you expected? Well, there are millions of birds, bees and other real critters in the Adirondacks.  Bees like the yellowjacket above love the black-eyed susans and other wildflowers that make lakesides and roadsides quite beautiful.  Even the flies can look interesting:

    This bee loves the purple loosestrife which is a menace on the lakes but beautiful:

    As for birds, here’s a blue jay hanging out in plain view on a dead tree stalk:

    And this gray catbird hanging out around the beautiful firethorn weeds along a lake:

    This sparrow was singing away in the brush:

    Not all birds are cute or beautiful…. ravens seem downright ugly, but what they lack in looks they allegedly make up for in brains.  Ravens are said to be among the smartest birds:

    On the other hand, the grouse seems a little dense, always sitting out by the roadside in plain view and then surprised when someone wants to take a picture:

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    Adirondack Chronicles 2018.5: Mother Ducks Know Best

    July 12, 2018

    Miles of back roads up here are dirt roads, some with gravel surfaces like the road above.  I was many miles into the forest on this road to Stillwater when I saw this mother duck herding her three chicks down a slope on the road.  I knew that up ahead were some heavy equipment trucks working on culverts and grooming the gravel surface — July means road work in the short summer season here. So the ducks probably were disturbed from their habitat and in search of a new pond.  Fortunately, an outlet at the bottom of the slope led to some nice water.  I watched as the mom led her babies through the underbrush, and she plunged in to show them the way, and the chicks followed fast behind:

    They hurried along to a place of safety among the tall grasses in the marsh, and mother duck kept looking around the whole time to be sure her kids were safe.  That’s what moms do!

    A frog watched from the mud, seemingly unimpressed but knowing enough to stay quiet:

    Overhead, the kind of predator the mother ducks fear was sitting on a wire looking in a different direction:

    Meanwhile, this double-winged dragonfly was showing off — but staying high above the frog so as not to become dinner!

    Speaking of dinner, the wild turkey population up here is abundant…. I counted eight baby turkeys with these two parent birds racing up the hillside to get away from the photographer…. rest assured Thanksgiving will be well stocked!  And that portrait of a turkey… reminds me of some members of Congress….

    On the way home, I saw a mama bear and cub saunter across the road ahead — too fast for the camera — and on a different lake another mother duck was taking her brood across the broad water:

    Having dinner on the deck, I was serenaded by the lovely call of a loon….. a perfect ending for a “ducky” day! And all reminders of the beautiful sights, sounds and rhythms of nature — and the importance of environmental stewardship to be sure these lovely critters and beautiful places remain safe for all kinds of wildlife (and humans, too!).

     

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    Adirondack Chronicles 2018.4 – Monarchs Return!

    July 11, 2018

    The monarchs are back!  Beautiful orange, black and white monarch butterflies are all over the milkweed that stands in abundance along back roads and lakesides in the Adirondacks.  The appearance of the monarchs is a good sign for environmental health.  Monarchs lay their eggs on milkweed, but for decades the eradication of milkweed with chemicals and mowing destroyed the habitat not only for the butterflies but for other species.  Attention to environmental conservation and sustainable practices has begun the restoration process ensuring many future generations of monarchs and other insects.  Several other beautiful butterflies also love the milkweed, including the swallowtails and white admirals:

    Swallowtails also love thistle:This was an exciting week in Supreme Court news and so I asked a resident chipmunk for his thoughts on the nominee, but he wanted to think about it some more:

    The northern flicker was far more interested in finding the next delicious meal of insects and berries:

    While along the beach this conclave of swallowtails enjoyed the late afternoon sun:

    And far across the lake a loon took her chick for a ride:

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    Adirondack Chronicles 2018.3

    July 8, 2018

    One of my favorite things about photographing wildlife is that nothing is predictable, every photo is a gift of coincidence with the right camera settings focused on the subject that has just come into view.  Downy woodpeckers are cute little forest birds, and I usually see them on tree branches (see below).  So imagine my surprise as I paddled along the Raquette River and heard the distinctive rat-a-tat-tat of woodpeckers and looking around I saw these two (above) on an old decaying tree stump along the riverbank.  Perfect!  Male (red stripe) and female, the couple seemed to be hunting for dinner in the old wood.  They obliged me with a pose just long enough for a good shot (not easy in a kayak floating with the current!).  Below is a different downy woodpecker on a branch in the forest:

    Here I am paddling along the Raquette River:

    Ok, that’s my kayak, but trust me I’m working the paddles and camera all at once!

    Another bird that I’ve only seen here in the north woods is the red-breasted grosbeak, a very good looking small bird, black feathers with a bright red splotch on the breast and white underneath:

    The grosbeak loves to eat berries just like the cedar waxwings:It’s also dragonfly season along the lakes and the array of colors and wingspreads is amazing:This osprey is standing guard on a nest high in a dead tree in a swampy pond along the road:

    One more look at the downy woodpecker:Heading out for another kayak ride… check back for more wild things!

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

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