Outdoor Adventures with Gary Lee - Vol. 38
We got winter in a big way, as I measured 18.5 inches and, if the rain and ice that fell just before had started as snow, it would have been a lot more. Luckily it didn’t knock the power out to too many folks over this way, but east of us, some are still without power. Our phones are a different story, as the Inlet snowmobile trail groomer sliced the cable opposite the telephone building in Inlet and everyone seems to be without a phone. The internet has still been working and phones at the townhall are still working on the high- speed internet line.
The snow sure stuck to the trees that had a quarter inch of ice freeze on them before the snow started. It makes for a pretty picture, but let’s hope the wind doesn’t blow very hard before this ice and snow gets off the trees. Many of the trails have small trees tipped over from this snow load, so be aware if you are out skiing or snowmobiling; there may be trees across the trails. This snow load also made some serious slush on top of the ice on some of the lakes. I know because checking traps yesterday, my snowshoes picked up lots of snow after getting wet in the slush underneath. They were like lead weights on my feet. Being about zero, it didn’t take long after knocking it off that the snow came right back on again.
I had -20 this morning, a tad nippy, which drove lots more birds to the feeders. At one time, I had 22 ravens, one crow and the bald eagle down on the dam. Late in the day, a red-tailed hawk came for a snack, which is very early for them to be back in the area. A beautiful bird that had to fight off the ravens at the carcass site. At the feeders, there were thirty to forty goldfinch, twenty purple Finch, twelve juncos, ten blue jays, ten chickadees, two white breasted nuthatches, two red breasted nuthatches, two titmouse, two downy woodpeckers and three hairy woodpeckers. I haven’t seen a northern shrike or a sharp-shinned hawk yet this winter, but it may have come in while I wasn’t watching. I haven’t put out any peanut butter logs yet this winter as I’ve had so few woodpeckers, but I’m making up some today. Don’t forget the Big Backyard Bird Count this weekend, Friday through Sunday.
There are some red crossbills to the north and east of us, but I haven’t seen or heard any in this area yet. If they were around, they should be starting to do courtship calls and begin nesting. With this ice covering much of their food supply, it will be harder for them to find something to eat and they may even visit feeders like both finches have. Back in the 80 Bird Breeding Atlas, I got several of these birds, both white-winged crossbills and pine siskins, nesting and feeding young. The crossbills I found formed small areas to nest in, not far apart, but the siskins were high up in the hemlocks, nesting alone. You wouldn’t think that these birds could sit on eggs, hatch young, and raise them this time of the year in negative temperatures, but they do. There must be lots of energy in those red spruce cone seeds.
The storm that dropped all the precipitation on us started down in the Gulf of Mexico and it dropped lots of rain on several states south of us before it got here, causing some flooding and tornados with the quick change in temperatures. Now this week, they are getting a couple heavier downpours off the Gulf, which will cause much flooding on an already saturated ground. Out west, Eastern Oregon got hammered with lots of rain and snow melt, causing lots of flooding, washing out roads and bridges, and some loss of life.
It was hard to miss the full moon on Saturday night. I stopped at the Inlet Town Hall and Adele was tracking the moonrise on her cell phone. At that time, it should have already risen, but we couldn’t see it behind the mountain. A beautiful adult bald eagle flew by the sunlit, snow-covered trees as we were watching. I left and caught it just after it came up over Seventh Lake, with a little red sky to boot. During the night, it was so bright outside, you would almost think it was daylight with all the tree shadows across the back yard. It didn’t get a chance to show its colors on Sunday, as clouds moved into the picture.
Don’t miss out on the Chili Bowl Event at View on Saturday, from noon to 3pm, with lots of very nice bowls to pick from and lots of varieties of chili to choose from. You don’t have to buy a bowl, but they are normally too nice to pass up, even buying just one for a gift for someone. See you there and write down your questions and I’ll try to answer them.
Slow down on the trails with those snowmobiles to enjoy the wildlands you are traveling through, but that’s another story. See ya.
Red-tailed hawk on dam