Saturday, April 8, 2023

A fun family visit, bird watching, and more maple syrup

Karen and Granddaughter Milly.

March came in like a lamb and went out like a lamb in this neck of the woods. We got a few drabs of snow that last week…some that just covered the ground following rain each time. Some of the nights the stars were very bright, and one night the aurora borealis was super after the clouds moved out. I didn’t see it, but I saw several photos of the many colors that appeared in the night sky. Some days it got up into the high fifties, but some nights it got down into the single digits.

Other folks in the Midwest weren’t so lucky, as they had snowstorms to the north (some blizzard-like) and where the cold met warmer temperatures to the south, there were 31 tornadoes. Tornadoes in 9 different states left 33 dead and dozens injured. This was an all-time record for these storms in March from Texas to Wisconsin and all the states in between. There is still potential for more tornadoes during this week in that same area, which might go through some more populated areas.


Many homes and businesses were destroyed, as winds in some of the tornadoes reached over 150 MPH. Seeing some of the videos, cars were picked up like toy trucks and thrown about. Many steel structures were blown apart, with roofing and siding becoming missiles. Large trees were shredded or torn out by their roots and tossed about. There were thunderstorms in western New York, and we got some hard rain that turned to snow at the end, but I didn’t hear any thunder snow.


We had visitors over the weekend, as my daughter, Erin, came up with our granddaughters Rachel and Emily. The star of the visit was great-granddaughter, Milly Jade Peterson, who just turned eight months…and she’s a keeper for sure. [She is] such an alert little girl who always had a smile on her face, no matter who was holding her. Her eyes were always scanning the new environment and watching whoever was talking.

orchid cactus

Orchid cactus. Photo by Gary Lee.

Anytime Oliver, the big yellow cat, went through he got a special look. She never did get a hold of his hair, but she tried a couple times when he got too close. She played with her musical toys as she sat up on the couch and played her drum…or anything that made noise. Everything was going into her mouth, so I think it won’t be too long and her metal spoon will be hitting a tooth. I was told she got fussy the last night here (and she even cried,) but I never heard her. She had a smile on her face when I saw her in the morning, so I guess everyone got through it.


While here, Erin, granddaughter Rachel, and I went over to visit Eric [Sutherland’s Maple Moss Sugarworks] sap house. He had just finished boiling for the day, but his mother and sister were still bottling some up to finish the day. I believe he said he did forty gallons that day. A few days earlier, I was over while he was still boiling, and his daughter was helping his mother bottle that day and they had done sixty gallons…a great day with the syrup at about fifteen-percent sugar content. After a sample taste, Erin bought a jar. If you catch him boiling, stop in and get yourself a sugar shack tour plus some syrup.


This warm weather has the birds on the move north. I had several Slate-Colored Juncos come in this week, and most of them are banded now. I got a few Song Sparrows, Red-Wing Blackbirds, Black-Capped Chickadees, and Common Grackles, plus a few more Evening Grosbeaks. I even had a couple Mallards on the inlet to the pond today [April 4], two Turkey Vultures on the dam, and a Herring Gull flew over, so things are moving quickly to spring.


[I] counted fifty Canada Geese on [the] Old Forge Pond and in the channel to First Lake, along with a few Mallards and a couple Hooded Mergansers. Today, [April 4] I saw a male Common Merganser on Fifth Lake…the first I’ve seen this year. My orchid cactus has bloomed over a month early, as it had only had blooms once while we were still in Florida. Then it bloomed again once we put it outside, with over thirty blooms…hope it does that again.


Speaking of Florida, my birding friend, Julie Long, is on Sanibel Island. She had been going there since she was twelve and didn’t want to miss what was going on. She went over to visit a friend I had made across from our unit to see how his plants made it through the storm. He showed her one of the night-blooming Cereus that I had planted four years ago, now that is right across from his driveway…and it was still alive. Don’t know if it was going to bloom, but just being alive after all the salt water is [a] good [thing.]


If it stays warm, my daffodils are going to bloom, but that’s another story. See ya.


Photo at top: Karen and great-granddaughter Milly. 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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