Saturday, February 26, 2022

Counting birds for the Great Backyard Bird Count leads to a rescue on South Shore Road

Some people could be making maple syrup this week with the above normal temperatures we are going to get and some more rain. The rain we got last week is still running off in places even with the below zero temperatures we’ve had since then. Several folks to the east of Whiteface Mountain in Jay and Au Sable Forks on the West Branch of the Ausable River had a couple ice jams that flooded several residences and washed away some vehicles when they broke loose. Some of those vehicles could be in Ausable Chasm or even out in Lake Champlain as they rolled down the river in the ice flow.

Recently, I was reading about the log river drives and thought if they had logs in the South Branch of the Moose River Stillwater by Camp Nine this year, those logs would be gone and headed for Lyons Falls. They had a couple scares when they had the river full of logs a couple of years ago, but the ice held until the spring break up before going down river. I looked out last Friday morning and water was four inches deep going across my driveway, so I knew something was wrong with the culverts. Actually, the culverts were fine, but the snowpack was damming up the water before it got to them.

Once I cleared a path (lots of shoveling) for the water to follow to the culverts, it stopped water from running places it never went before. There was a pond under the bird feeders about six inches deep and the National Grid power box was half underwater in a small lake. In the bigger stream that goes under the driveway, the water was running right over the snow, so I had to break that up all the way to the ski trail and let the snowpack wash downstream. I did this to stop most of the water from just going out through the woods everywhere and back in the stream bed.

The same thing happened along Route 28 going to Old Forge as the ditches were plugged with snow and the water went right across the highway. They had the highway closed for a short time until they got most of this water off the highway. With a temperature of fifteen degrees, the highway could become a skating rink quickly. When this froze, it made the trails rock hard and much too fast for cross-country skiing (for me, anyway.) It put a crust on the snow everywhere that you could walk on without snowshoes, but you better take them. If this does soften up, you would be post-holing…and that is not a fun experience as there is still well over a foot of snow in the woods.

This weekend was the first of three free fishing days this year in New York State (no license required.) Saturday was no day to be out on the lake, but I’m sure some were. It was a blizzard much of the day and most all afternoon. The temperature to start off Sunday was -10 and never got much above zero all day with a strong wind blowing. Today (Monday, Feb. 21) was much better as the temperature got up into the forties with very little wind, and I only saw a few anglers out on the ice.

The rough weather sure pushed many more birds to the feeders. On Saturday (Feb. 19), my feeders were mobbed with birds right through the snow squalls and up until dark as they tried to get a few seeds before they went to bed. This was one of the four days for the Great Backyard Bird Count, so I got several birds to count that day. Since today was the last day of the count, I checked out the Red Crossbills picking grit on Limekiln Road and South Shore Road before there was too much traffic. I counted eighteen picking on Limekiln Road and sixteen picking on South Shore Road.

Male Red Crossbill picking at grit in the road. Photo by Gary Lee.

On the way back on South Shore Road I found one that had been hit and was injured so I picked it up. It was an immature male that had a bad hit on its head and what seemed to be an injured left wing. I brought it home, but didn’t band it as I thought it was going to die. I sat it down by the driveway, and to my surprise,  it flew up into the spruce tree. So, I saved that one but if you see them in the highway eating grit give them a toot so they will fly up and not get hit.

Inlet’s 20th annual Frozen Fire and Lights is this weekend, Saturday, Feb. 26. A full day of events is planned. Check out the full schedule online here:

There will be cardboard sled races, kite flying and (new this year) outhouse races…you can’t miss that, but that’s another story. See ya.

Photo at top: Injured immature male crossbill that was found on South Shore Road. Photo by Gary Lee. 

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Gary lives with his wife, Karen, at Eight Acre Wood in Inlet where he was the Forest Ranger for 35 years, working in the Moose River Wild Forest Recreation Area and West Canada Lakes Wilderness Area. Now retired, Gary works summers for the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation, observing, catching and banding loons. The author of a column Daybreak to Twilight in local papers from 1986 to 2019, he now writes his Outdoor Adventures a weekly blog. In 2008, Gary coauthored a book with John M.C. “Mike” Peterson, "Adirondack Birding- 60 Great Places to Find Birds."

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