Outdoor Adventures with Gary Lee - Vol. 187

lon in ice

Outdoor Adventures with Gary Lee - Vol. 187

Our New Year’s Weekend was a washout for sure with rain and warmer temperatures taking its toll on what snow we had. What I see out my front window is mostly bare ground where there was over 18 inches of snow a week ago. I had a fisher and a coyote visit the deer carcass on the dam during daylight hours, which meant they were hungry. There were four Ravens and a pair of Bald Eagles waiting their turn in the treetops on the other side of the pond. Now that the snow is nearly gone, I haven’t seen any of them. I still have over fifty Evening Grosbeaks coming daily to the feeders and the two White Throated Sparrows are still sneaking seeds and hiding in the brush pile. There are still some new Black Capped Chickadees coming to the feeders, as I’ve banded almost twenty hatch year birds in the last two weeks. 

The folks out in northern California had a different kind of New Year’s Day as they had over five inches of rain which caused major flooding in many areas and the loss of one life in a flooded vehicle. They got over two feet of snow in the mountains. More rain is expected this week and one levee that was lost in the first rain fall is being repaired in hopes it can be fixed before this next storm comes on shore.

In the south, on the line between warm temperatures and cold to the north, thunderstorms broke out in several states. Snow on the north side, freezing rain in the middle and thunderstorms with the possibility of tornadoes across the south as this storm heads toward the gulf coast. Any rain across the south could cause flooding as they are still very wet from the last storms. 

Once Christmas passed the legion of Nutcrackers started retreating to their home in the plastic bin until next Christmas. I made one count on how many stood guards, on the windowsills, along the stairs and at other strategic spots around the house and there were forty-eight, no two the same. I had to do some repairs, as some lost their bases and some lost their weapons in storage, but they all stood tall through the Christmas season and never cracked a nut. 

We did have a Loon frozen in Fourth Lake near Eagle Bay. The wind broke up much of Fourth Lake on Christmas Day and pushed a big chunk of ice right into the bay. The Loon, a juvenile, got trapped just beyond where the old ice and the moving chunk came in the bay. It only had a small hole as a couple inches of snow fell overnight. It was still in the hole as a rescue team gathered the next morning, not knowing how thick the ice was. Don Andrews took a photo of the loon in the hole early that morning while it was snowing and when we all got together and looked out, the Loon was gone. The wind must have been just right, and the Juvenile got airborne by running in the open hole and then on the snow until it was in the air. Maybe it learned a lesson and it won’t wait so long to leave when it returns to one of our northern lakes in four years or more as an adult.

With that quick freeze after the rains and things changed to snow and the water was still running, it froze one of my culverts solid. I plugged in the heat tape that goes through the culvert and by the next morning, water could again flow through the culvert. Water never did stop running under the ice in my three-foot tube, so I didn’t have to plug in the heat tape there. Most of the smaller culverts in the road through the Plains probably suffered the same fate and if we get more rain, that water will have to go over the road in several places. It is going to have to snow a foot or more to get these trails back, both snowmobile and x-country ski trails back usable. Some repairs are being made during this down time, as many trees came down during these storms that passed through. Be aware if you do get out and about that ice may not be safe that you were on just last week. These warmer temperatures and running water have caused shorelines and the lakes themselves to be unsafe. Getting wet in winter is very dangerous and hypothermia can stop you in your tracks if you don’t get to a warm place so be careful out there. 

Some Christmas present flowers are coming into bloom, but that’s another story. See ya.   

Photo Above: Loon in the ice by Don Andrews

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Nutcrackers by me

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  • Betty Anne Riley 14/01/2023 9:43am (2 months ago)

    Love the nutcrackers!!!

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