You skiers and snowmobilers can stop praying for snow, because we have it. [Or at least,] enough to ski and snowmobile on. Looking at the temperatures [ahead,] the bottom is going to go out on the thermometer (except for one day [with temps in the] forties before Christmas with some rain.) [People are] paying more for heating fuel oil or propane, and I hear you can hardly even get kerosene. Not many people heat with kerosene anymore, but tractor trailer drivers cut their fuel with it to keep it from jelling in cold temperatures.
Another thing that must be jelling is some local septic tanks, as I see the Egan sewer pumper on the road around here most every day. If you just put a couple packets of yeast down the toilet when you leave it inactive for a few months (or even when you are using it regularly,) you shouldn’t have to call the pumper. The yeast keeps the system working perfectly. Mine hasn’t been pumped in 20 years of use. I heard that at the Fulton Chain of Lakes meeting thirty years ago, stated by a couple local sewer pumpers, Chip Sauer and Rick Hunkins. They had all the work they needed, and they were just trying to save some camp [owners] and homeowners a few bucks. The old wise tale was to throw in a road-killed cat or woodchuck to start the system working when you first put in your septic tank, but you don’t have to do that… just a packet of yeast will do the trick.
Since Christmas is coming, some of you Trump supporters out there should buy your friends some of his trading cards at $99 a pop, as he is going to need all the money he can get for his lawyers. Just a suggestion!
No new birds came to the feeders this week, but I did band Evening Grosbeak Number 108 today [December 18], and they keep coming. I still have a couple White-Throated Sparrows hanging out, as they steal a seed near the big birds and then hide under the brush pile to eat it in safety. The loons gave us a little outdoor adventure this week, as they forgot to go south and were frozen in a couple lakes. I mentioned the ones on First Lake of the Fulton Chain, two of which got out, but the third one just moved I believe from the south shore over near Hollywood Road, where it was found frozen on a small area on Wednesday [December 14].
The Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation got notice of one also frozen in Brantingham Lake. That loon chick (the only one in a few years) was way out in the middle when Cody Sears and I checked on it that day. There was a big part of the lake not frozen, but the loon didn’t seem to get into that part. The ice was only an inch thick, [and] not safe enough to walk on. So, we had to abandon that rescue and turned it over to the Forest Rangers who were having ice boat training the next day. They came and busted up the ice for this bird to get to the big open hole and fly out, but it didn’t do that. I got photos from some residents and the loon was still stuck, because the snowstorm came and cooled the lake surface down and coated the lake with snow [and] ice.
The loon [was] still out in the middle in a hole. There was a resident Bald Eagle keeping watch of this loon. I didn’t get any pictures today [December 18], so I don’t know if it got out or not. Juveniles can fly out of a small hole if they get the wind just right. [I am] waiting to hear on that one again. On the way home from Brantingham, we stopped at First Lake. Cody and I had about a half hour before dark to try for the loon there. Cody (in the canoe) got into the hole with the loon, but it had too much space, and he couldn’t net it before dark. We had two inches of ice on the surface around the hole.
We regrouped the next morning with the help of local Don Andrews, photographer Kurt Gardner and Cody brought down Jay Locke from the Loon Center who is just learning how to catch and handle loons. The hole in the ice had gotten smaller overnight, so Cody tried to catch the loon in the landing net from the canoe, but no luck. We deployed the fish gill net across the hole, hanging in the water with Don on one end and Cody on the other. I got in the hole with the canoe and the hand net, and after a couple dives, they caught the loon in their net. We processed the loon in my garage, taking measurements and weight. They released the loon in the open waters of Blue Mountain Lake on their way home. I hope it gets out of there before it freezes, but some juveniles never learn that they must go south their first year.
From the pictures we are getting daily, five-month-old Great Granddaughter Milly is just busting out with new outfits and excitement about her very first Christmas. With daily photos and video via the Internet, she is growing like a weed, and she nearly rolled from her back to her belly while playing with the cat a couple days ago. Her age is just about the same as her Grandmother Erin’s when we were flown by seaplane into West Canada Lake for our new adventure in 1965.
A little more about that adventure, but that’s another story. See ya.
I hope you all have a happy and healthy holiday season. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Photo at top: Great Granddaughter Milly, ready for Christmas. Photo provided by Gary Lee.