Friday, October 23, 2009

Old Friends, New Adventures

Nothing can make you feel more like a kid again than having fun with friends you were kids with once. I'm experiencing that great pleasure this weekend with two friends from my long-ago youth: Tom and Dave. I knew these two guys when we were all teenagers back in the 1950s, running around a lake in southern Michigan where we all grew up. Despite living hundreds of miles apart now, they've stayed in touch with each other all these years, going on many outdoor adventures together all over the country. And this year they decided to have an outdoor adventure in the Adirondacks that included me. And I couldn't wait to show them "my" Saratoga woods and waterways.

Yesterday we climbed to a Hudson River overlook in Moreau Lake State Park, wearing just jeans and T-shirts in the unseasonable warmth. So we were looking forward to a pleasant paddle on the river this morning. Except that the temperature plummeted to around 35 degrees overnight. And a brisk wind was riffling the water. Undaunted, we bundled up and set forth downstream toward the Sherman Island Dam, the two guys in a tandem canoe, I in my little Hornbeck.

And it was cold! But never mind. We were tough. Besides, the glowing autumn colors along the riverbank helped us to feel a bit warmer. As did the exertion of paddling against the wind.

When we reached Rippled Rocks Point we slipped back into the marsh and behind Three Pine Island, well out of the wind. The sun even brightened to glow a bit warmer through the general cloud cover. We landed our boats to walk about on the rocks and stretch our cold-stiffened hips and legs. Although much of the autumn color is fading by now, the blueberry bushes poking up among the rocks were as red as red could be.

One tiny blueberry bush even had new blossoms. Now, why would a bush do that, with no hope this late in the season of ever producing fruit? Mysteries abound.

Our paddle back to the boat launch was aided by the wind at our backs, so we still had energy to spare for further adventures. So off we went to the lake part of Moreau Lake State Park, this time for a walk, not a paddle. I was oh, so hoping we might spy that moose that's been visiting the park of late, and send the guys home with an experience to remember. Well, we didn't see any moose, nor any sign of it, but we did find something that stopped us dead in our tracks: an Osprey, dead, sprawled on it belly in the sand.

An experienced bird hunter who knows what shot birds look like, Dave examined the Osprey and surmised that it had been shot through the belly while flying, the bullet passing through and piercing one of its legs as well. What a travesty! We all shook our heads in sadness over the senseless killing of this magnificent, legally protected, bird. I couldn't help but marvel, though, over this chance to really look up close at a bird I've only seen soaring way up high over my head.

We were pondering whether to leave the Osprey lying where it was or carry it back to the park headquarters, when Peter, the park manager, came driving along the trail, looking for stragglers like us who were supposed to have left the parking lot by 3:30 p.m. We were glad to be able to tell him about the dead bird before we were seen carrying it and possibly suspected of causing its death (which could lead to substantial fines). Peter forgave us our parking violation and asked us to carry the Osprey to the park's nature center. Which we did. Or rather, Dave did. What a game guy! (That bird was beginning to reek.)

Tomorrow, new adventures await. You never know what you might find.


suep said...

Glad to see that you got outdoors with your friends on that great stretch of the river -
Horrified at you finding the murdered osprey - it's not even a case of "mistaken identity" - who the heck is walking around PACKING A GUN in that section of Moreau Park, and shooting at creatures randomly ...??
Just the other day, Dave was telling me excitedly of seeing an osprey flying over the lake...

Diesel said...

I'm glad you got to report the shooting of the fine raptor, Woodswalker. Shooting a bird out of the sky is, unfortunately, an all too frequent occurrence. It occurs to me that, being new to the area, I don't even know where my closest federally permitted wildlife rehabilitator is, to call in case we find or see a wounded bird. We need to redress that - my person used to be one, so you think she'd know!

It is far away, but have you visited the site of my friend listed on my blog - Taking Flight?

Thanks for the post!

Lindsey said...

As much as the story about the osprey fills me with rage (not even mere anger, should be no surprise coming from a lover of birds), I'm glad you got such a beautiful shot of it, I have never seen one up close in person nor in photos, this would be the first time! Absolutely beautiful plumage.

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Thanks, dear friends, for stopping by and leaving your comments. I certainly expected you would share my rage over the senseless shooting of that osprey. After examining the wounds and posture of the fallen bird, my companion Dave surmised that the bird was not instantly killed by the shot, but was shot somewhere distant and managed to land on the beach before dying. Maybe the one Dave Alfred saw was this one coming in to die. My eyes still sting with tears when I remember it lying there on the sand, so beautiful but so still.

Ellen Rathbone said...

How nice to have such great friends!

And it's hard to believe that people still shoot raptors! But, I suppose nothing should surprise me these days.

See you in a bit...

SuZD said...

Iam in the process of taking my students through a series of environmental studies here in VA and we are fortunate enough to have access to a beautiful area that is co-run by George Mason Univ. Our last trip focused on native bees and bee/pollinator relationships. While on our tour she explained to us that the reason that some flowering plants still put out blossoms is that there is less competition for pollinators. I'm guessing this is an assumption because I don't think our guide was that good that she could talk to the plants but it sounded like a good explanation to me. As always your postings and pictures are beautiful. One of the things that our school is considering doing is putting together a presentation such as yours for our final product. Would you mind if I shared yours with them?

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Hi SuZD. I am guessing you are my own dear niece Suzie. Can you email me at
so I can have your email address? Of course you may share my blog with your students.

Regarding the pollination question: why would a blueberry want to be pollinated so late in the year that no fruits (and seeds) could possibly form before a hard freeze? It hardly seems to be an advantage, does it? There are a number of plants that flower again when the length of day matches what it was in the spring. Dandelions, for example. I wonder if they ever set seed.