Outdoor Adventures with Gary Lee - Vol. 30
Almost no matter where you are in the United States, the talk is weather this week, as the storm that started in California crossed the country and picked up more moisture as it traveled. Some got rain, some got freezing rain, and others got some snow. Many got much too much snow. The most I heard was 31 inches in Binghamton and 23 inches in Albany. We only got about five inches. Most of that came while we were at the movies on Sunday afternoon watching Harriet (a great movie).
Even though the temperatures are in the single digits, most ice locally isn’t safe to walk on yet. Right now, the snow insulates the ice and, until we get a warmup and the snow becomes water, it will not freeze enough to be safe to walk on, so be careful.
Back in 1980, we had a real cold spell at the end of deer season, but not much snow. This cold weather froze the still waters on the South Branch of the Moose River and the deer moved into the Plains for the winter. That’s when there were still some deer coming into the yard for winter protection under the spruces. My dad came up for his last deer hunt, as he was under treatment for cancer, and things didn’t look good. We hunted that last day of the season in by Beaver Lake. It was -10 that morning and the only thing that came by my dad were does, but he was still on his watch when I came out. He was nothing but skin and bones from his treatments, but he didn’t leave his watch. We went back to the house and he rested overnight, but when he got up, he said “I didn’t bring those minnows here for a ride. Let’s go fishing.” With the cold temperatures and no snow, Limekiln Lake had a nice four-inch coating of black ice. I chopped holes and before dad had in five tip-ups, he had four nice splake on the ice. I got him a lawn chair from the house, and it went on like that for a few hours, catching each of our limits. It turned out to be his last fishing trip. He went home with a pan full of beautiful splake that he showed all over Ballston when he got back. Nice to share those memories on safe ice that day.
The snow and cold have moved a few birds into the feeders away from their wild food out in the woods. The turkeys have come through the yard a couple times, but they were just picking beechnuts from the snow, and not at the feeders. I did have fifty goldfinches on Thanksgiving morning and many of them have stayed around. I put up my thistle seed feeder, which caught their attention right away. There has been a Carolina wren at some feeders in Old Forge. It likes suet, so if you have some, put it out and you may see him. This is one of those southern birds that has been gradually moving northward and many stay the entire winter feeding at feeders. My brother has a pair that have come now for several winters and stay all summer sometimes, nesting on his porch wreath.
A juvenile loon was still on Fifth Lake, Thanksgiving morning, but left sometime during the night, as it was missing the next morning
The pretty red cardinals and tufted titmouse are other birds that have come north and use feeders for their winter supplement. I’ve only had a cardinal one year up at the ranger headquarters, but I’ve had titmice here for a few winters. They nested in my bluebird boxes a couple times, and last year, brought their young to the feeders all winter. If I reported four in my Project Feeder Watch counts, that would always bounce back as to many for the area, so I would send them a picture of four at the feeder.
I heard of some scary rides home for those who waited until Sunday to travel home. Many hit blinding snow squalls going west, and others hit icy roads going south and east. I hope everyone made it home safely. We escaped the major parts of this storm, but with the lakes still open and the winds today (12/3), we may get some lake effect from Lake Ontario and those in the Buffalo area they will get it from Lake Erie.
Snowmobiles will soon be buzzing around, but that’s another story. See ya.
Sunrise on Limekiln Lake - 12/1. Red sun in the morning, sailors take warning.