I like getting letters, but very few people seem to write them anymore.
However, I do get emails and I like them too, because they often make writing columns easier.
I’ve gotten several good ones recently, including one from Kathy Faber, longtime area coach and athletic director, who wrote to tell me about a great save by Bill Boyle and Ryan Fagan earlier this summer.
Boyle was sitting on his deck on Lake Canadarago sipping his morning coffee and watching an eagle hunt his breakfast. There was a boat on the lake fishing with planing boards, and the eagle decided that one of the lures he was dragging might be edible and fell from the sky into the water to catch it.
It is not a good idea.
The bird became entangled and was in danger of drowning. Boyle enlisted the help of Fagan, who caught the bird, which somehow broke free of the lure and climbed out of the net. However, the eagle was exhausted and could not get out of the water. Fagan caught him again, and he and Boyle made their way upwind to Deowongo Island, where they released him again. The eagle stayed in place for a while on the shore, then jumped onto a bench on the island, sat there for about 20 minutes, then flew into a tree and soon disappeared.
The rescue was not an easy task since the bird, as you can imagine, was not in a very good mood. It was a great job by Boyle and Fagan.
Fagan believes the bird was a golden eagle. Tom Salo of the Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society’s Franklin Mountain Hawk Watch has been studying golden eagles for many years, and he’s pretty sure, after looking at the photos, that it was an immature bald eagle. Immatures lack the characteristic white head and tail and look somewhat like golds. (Salo wrote an excellent story on golden eagles in the December 2014 New York State Conservationist. You should be able to find it online.)
By the way, you’ll likely see bald eagles almost every day near Canadarago and Otsego lakes. I have seen them pull fish out of the water, ride thermal currents, stand in fields, and feed on carrion in the middle of the road. Fagan said they flock to Canadarago in double-digit numbers at the time of ice in the spring.
Also by the way, Franklin Mountain Hawkwatch, across the Susquehanna River from Oneonta, officially started last weekend. You can see bald eagles, golden eagles and many other birds of prey there, depending on the season. Broad-winged hawks have already been migrating. Visitors are always welcome, and the official counters welcome help spotting birds. Dress warm in layers. It can be a lot colder up there than you think it’s going to be.
The best times to be on the lookout for hawks are when the winds are strong from the northwest and especially after a rain shower and a cold front has passed. Information, including detailed instructions, is available at https://doas.us/research/franklin-mountain-hawkwatch/.
I received several other important emails:
For example, regarding a column on garden pests and how to deal with them, Sue Fellows suggested an electric fence. She and her husband installed a three-strand solar fence, using components from Tractor Supply and a Gallagher charger purchased online. Sue said it was easy to install. She sent photos of the garden, which looks very nice and has not been bothered by bugs.
Anthony Salerno wrote in to share his experience with his large garden. He has a picket fence that keeps larger animals out, and he doesn’t weed or feed his backyard, leaving plenty of clovers which he says keep groundhogs and squirrels fat and happy. He doesn’t plant lettuce, kale, Brussels sprouts of any kind because he hasn’t found anything that works to keep them from being devastated. He moves owl decoys around the garden, which seems to keep the crows at bay. The strawberries and blueberries have wire fences to keep the birds and rabbits out, and he has so many blackberries that he lets the animals get stuffed. He said that everything else, including herbs, is generally left alone.
In response to a column about invasive species, Donald Beier wrote to tell me about his experience dealing with Japanese Knuckles at a camp he owned on the West Branch of the Delaware River. Everything was tried and nothing worked until it was decided to cover the weeds. They were cut down to ground level and then tarps were placed over the roots. It took several years of what he described as constant and diligent effort, but the pecan nut disappeared and the native foliage returned.
Also about the knuckle, Ross Cohn informed me that it is edible. Well, as a seasoned collector of dandelions, thistles (burdock), mustard greens, leeks, black walnuts, and the like, I should have expected that to be the case, but really, I was stunned by that news. Ross suggested that as terrifyingly invasive as the weed is, making it a kitchen feature could be a great way to control its spread.
In a 2016 post, bonappetit.com reported that some restaurants were serving knuckles. Maybe it was a fad that has since faded, but I think it’s probably still a thing in certain big city establishments.
This is what bonappetit.com had to say:
“The only redeeming quality of Knotweed, then, is that its hollow green stems, segmented like bamboo and flecked with crimson, taste very much like rhubarb (although the two are completely unrelated). They are sour, crisp and juicy; can be eaten raw or cooked; and they can lean sweet or savory, depending on how they’re prepared. So knotweed is, in many ways, the perfect thing to forage: it tastes good, it’s easy to find, and unlike many wild edibles, it’s not at risk of being overharvested.”
That is sure.
Write John Pitarresi at 60 Pearl St., New Hartford, NY 13413 or[email protected] or call him at 315-724-5266.
Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol will discuss New York State’s new gun laws at the next Oneida County Federated Sports Clubs meeting on September 12.
The public is invited to attend and ask questions. The meeting is scheduled for September 12 at 7:30 pm at the Steuben City Hall, 9458 Soule Road, Remsen.