Styrofoam worm containers are not biodegradable. Plastic trash lasts for years, and it is easily washed downriver by the spring floods.
The spring season’s unpredictable weather has certainly provided some unique challenges for outdoor travelers with high temperatures in the 70’s and 80’s and lows dropping into the 30’s, with snow, rain and heavy winds.
Fortunately, the cool weather has helped to keep the blackflies at bay. And when it didn’t, at least you could hear them coming with the noise of thousands of black flies chattering their teeth in the cold.
A much more common spring sound has been the faraway thump, thump, thump of a lawnmower attempting to start up far away in the forest.
The noise is not actually mechanical by nature, it is natural in nature. And the fascinating element of the odd spring sound is the sound maker.
The noise is the mating call of a male ruffed grouse, which is often referred to as a partridge. In order to amplify the sound the birds seek out a ‘drumming tree,’ which is usually of a long, hollow tree laying on the ground.
Drumming trees may be used by generations of birds, but contrary to the long accepted theory of drumming, the male grouse does not produce the drumming noise by thumping the tree with their wings.
Rather, the male birds stand upright on the log and beat their wings furiously. So furiously in fact, that the tips of their wing feathers actually break the sound barrier.
But instead of just cracking a whip, their feathers crack several whips to produce the rhythmic thumping that has become as signature a sound of spring as a loon’s lonesome wail or a pepper’s pestering peep.
The effort also serves to ‘buff them up,’ as they can lose more than 10 percent of their body weight due to the energy expended in drumming.
In addition to attracting female birds, the male’s powerful beats serve to ward off potential suitors from intruding on its territory, which may be as extensive as 6 to 8 acres or larger.
While the male of the species is noisy and boisterous, female grouse are even more defensive of their territory.
If the hen fails to lure an intruder away by feigning an injured wing at first, she will turn and confront a threat, no matter the size.
I wonder at what point in the evolutionary process did members of the wild kingdom such as grouse, the killdeer and others, first learn to feign injury, to fake, and deceive as a matter of survival?
I was once attacked by a female grouse defending her brood, while walking a woodland trail with a 16-foot guideboat on my shoulders.
She stood in the trail, puffed up her chest, fanned her tail and refused to let me pass. When I attempted to go around her, she pecked me in the shin, and chased after me.
I was the equivalent of an elephant to an infant, yet she refused to give way. She continued hissing and faking attacks until I hopped into the truck.
For travelers who prefer not to go face to tail feathers with a mother grouse, there are better things to see and do this weekend.
Historic vehicles return to the Adirondack History Center
Possibly one of the finest events in the region will be hosted in Elizabethtown, as the Adirondack History Center again hosts the Antique & Classic Car Show to celebrate the opening of their newest exhibit: The Human Face of theAdirondacks in the Civil War.
The grand opening of the exhibit will be held in conjunction with the car show on Saturday June 8, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Collectors and enthusiasts from around the region will have a collection of some of the finest vintage and restored vehicles on display. There will be a lot of ‘50’s, ‘60’s and 70’s muscle cars as well as roadsters, hot rods, vintage jeeps, and pickups. Local fire departments will also have antique fire trucks on display. The event will include, food, drink, prizes and a raffle for $1,000 in gas.
A recent state record brook trout taken from Silver Lake by Rick Beauchamp, provides evidence of how quickly Adirondack waters have recovered from the blight of acid rain.
Of course, ‘Beau,’ as he is known to his friends, is such a capable angler he could probably catch trout in a bathtub.
A little more than 30 years ago, Silver Lake, (located in the southern Adirondack’s Silver Lake Wilderness Area) was deemed too acidic to support fish life.
At the time, nearly one quarter of the Adirondack’s fabled trout waters were considered acidified ‘dead lakes’ as a result of pollution from coal burning power plants and other industries in the midwest.
Due to the efforts of several environmental groups including the Adirondack Council, the scourge of acid precipitation has been severely curtailed. Many ‘dead’ lakes have made miraculous recoveries.
Nature takes care of its own, but in New York state it has had a lot of help from the fine folks at NYS DEC who worked with sportsman’s groups to monitor the ponds, and restocked them with acid tolerant species such as the Temiscamie hybrid, a cross between a domestic brook trout and a wild Temiscamie (Canadian-strain) brook trout.
It is incredible to think that 30 years later, once dead lakes are now producing brook trout in the five to six pound class.
Keep our waters clean
Even with such great success stories, there is much more to do. Although our local waters are far less acidic than they have been in more than 30 years, they still need help.
Lead sinkers, soda cans, beer bottles and a host of similar trash can still be found on the edge or in the water of most local waters.
In a recent survey, the top 10 items that were found in waterways include cigarette filters, food wrappers, plastic bottles, plastic bags, caps/lids, plastic cups/plates/utensils, straws/stirrers, beverage cans and paper bags.
Fortunately, it appears there are now fewer Styrofoam worm containers left kicking around the local ponds and riverbanks. I expect this is the result of the introduction of biodegradable worm containers.
Unfortunately, there are still some slovenly anglers who believe biodegradable means it is alright to toss the containers along the riverbank. A slob is a slob, regardless of whether their trash is biodegradable or not!
Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.