Almanack Contributor Gary Lee

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."


Saturday, March 2, 2024

Inlet’s Frozen Fire & Lights, ice fishing with Grandson Jake

Kites flying before the big Outhouse race

Another “January” thaw is upon us, with temperatures in the forties and maybe up in the sixties before weeks’ end. It is pretty hard to have winter events without snow and ice. Luckily, it held up through this weekend, so Inlet’s Frozen Fire and Lights got through all the events without a hitch. The cardboard sled races at Fern Park were fast for those who kept their cardboard crafts headed straight down the icy hill. Some went across the finish line in a little over six seconds and into the crowd watching at the tail end of the race. Some flipped before crossing the finish line, but dragged their sleds across the line for time.

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Saturday, February 24, 2024

Great Backyard Bird Count: Turkeys, chickadees, blue jays & more

Blue Jay in the Potter Trap. Photo by Gary Lee.

Well, we finally had a whole week of winter at one time with [morning] temperatures in single digits (even below zero a couple of days) and snow four days in a row. That kept the snowmobilers riding through the weekend, but trails hit by the sun are bare again with all that traffic. There were a few accidents, four went in the open water of the Inlet channel and one snowmobiler hit a pressure crack on Indian Lake. A rescue vehicle going to that accident went through the ice, [they] self-rescued and got out. The injured snowmobiler was brought to shore and a waiting ambulance.

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Saturday, February 17, 2024

Recent storm spurs memory of Chibougamau Lake fishing trip

Blue Jays sitting in a tree

We hit all kinds of weather and temperature changes going to Utica two times this week. Starting out in the dark on Friday, [Feb. 9] the temperature was near freezing with a misty rain that tried to freeze on the windshield, but as we went further south the skies nearly cleared and we even saw a sunrise in Utica. The clouds moved in during the day, but only a few short showers passed through and it was mostly clear on the way home.

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Saturday, February 10, 2024

Use non-toxic fishing tackle, lead poisoning leading cause of loon deaths

Paradox Pete stuffed animal in the snow

Winter held on for another week, giving snowmobilers and skiers some snow to play on…but be careful of ice conditions with all the freezing and thawing we’ve had this winter. Punxsutawney Phil and Ellie George’s Paradox Pete didn’t see their shadows, so we can look for Spring most any time. Since we’ve had six Spring Breaks so far this winter, that won’t be anything new.

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Saturday, February 3, 2024

16,138 birds seen during 2024 Region 7 Waterfowl Count

Tufted ducks

We just had our sixth January thaw since winter began in December and the driveway is bare again. The turkeys were picking grit from it to break down the corn in their crops. There have been from nine to thirty-three [turkeys] here daily at the feeders which have been spooked by hikers or skiers on the trail out back a few times. There were twenty-three here this morning [Jan. 31] and after they went down the ski trail, they got into quite a squabble. Some of the males must have been showing dominance, and by the sounds coming from there…feathers were flying.

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Saturday, January 27, 2024

Turkeys airborne in every direction & Amaryllis “light bulbs”

Banded Carolina Wren

Last Sunday [Jan. 14], the temperatures started off at a low of 17 [degrees] and went down daily every morning to a low of -8 [degrees] here this Sunday [Jan. 21.] [We had] some new snow nearly every morning (the most being five inches on Thursday.) This gave the skiers and snowmobilers something to play on (if they could stand the cold temperatures and wind.) There were a few accidents on the trails and highways. The most dramatic was a small car that passed a chip truck tractor trailer over near Blue Mountain. Before getting back in [the] lane, it was hit by the state plow truck. The car was cut in half as it hit the plow of the plow truck broadside. I heard the driver of the car only got a black eye from the accident…lucky guy. This was all caught on camera from the DOT plow truck.

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Saturday, January 20, 2024

Army troop of turkeys in yard, 130 mallard ducks in Inlet channel

Tufted titmouse

Winter has arrived a couple of months late, and the snowmobilers and skiers finally have enough snow to play on. This last three inches of snow that came yesterday morning [Jan. 14] was the best snow we have had all winter (and [we had] no rain following it when it stopped.) I saw a few people skiing down the trail behind the house and heard many snowmobiles going up the road out front. Sitting in my chair upstairs, I can see their lights coming down Limekiln Road from near the top of the hill to the ski trail parking lot. I know when it snows, as I can see the lights of the town crew plowing the road in the dark and I can also see them as they are plowing out the parking lot right from my bedroom window.

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Saturday, January 13, 2024

Juvenile loon frees itself from Old Forge Pond

Iced-in loon on Old Forge Pond

It is finally white outside, but with possible warmer weather [and] rain and snow coming this week, it may not last very long. Last Thursday night the temperature plummeted to near zero [degrees] with the stars and moon shining bright most of the night with no wind. All lakes in this area froze that night with a coating of ice. Not very thick, but they were mostly ice covered. [The ice is not thick] enough to walk on (and certainly not [thick] enough to snowmobile on.) Check any ice [thickness and conditions] before you travel on any iced-over, snow-covered lakes.

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Saturday, January 6, 2024

Granddaughter Rachel gets married in Rochester

Leucistic and Northern Cardinal

Winter is still late to arrive…and stay white outside. This morning [Jan. 1,] it is white, but just enough to cover the leaves. Out in Webster on Saturday morning [Dec. 30,] they were getting lake effect [snow,] but it was not sticking to the unfrozen ground. It brought several birds to the feeder my son had out behind his pool which was good entertainment before going to the wedding in the afternoon. My grandson, Nathan, and I [captured] several bird photos, trying to catch a good one of the leucistic male Northern Cardinal [at] Jason’s feeder.

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Saturday, December 30, 2023

Reminiscing as we celebrate 60th Wedding Anniversary

people gather around a campfire in winter

It is a white Christmas here at Eight Acre Wood, but just barely…with leaf cover showing through the
white stuff. Santa would have needed a motor vehicle (and not a sleigh) in most of the United States this
Christmas. I mentioned all the events going on this week in our lives including Christmas, the full moon, and our granddaughter’s wedding on December 30. [However,] I forgot the big one…and that was our 60th Wedding Anniversary [on] Wednesday, [December] 27. I surely would have been reminded if I missed that one, for sure. When you marry the girl next door, you cannot forget these things.

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Saturday, December 23, 2023

A Christmas cactus, 23 turkeys, and a whole lotta rain

Blooming Christmas cactus.

Well, winter went away in a heartbeat as it poured all night last night and I battled running water all day today (December 18.) It had rained most of the night and I looked out at the pond just after breakfast and a wooden box was swirling around over the outlet of the pond. I quickly put on my boots and rushed down as water was running everywhere. As I went down, I saw that water was running out of the safety valve outlet ditch at full stream. I had only seen this once before when the outlet pipe got plugged.

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Saturday, December 16, 2023

Wouldn’t be Christmas without Karen’s fruitcakes

Short- Eared Owl

So far, the storm coming up the east coast hasn’t done much in this area other than rain. They are predicting that it is going to change to snow overnight, but who could tell with this up and down weather we have been having. Some people to the south of us in Tennessee got hammered with tornadoes just outside of Nashville with six people killed, hundreds of homes damaged or destroyed, and thousands without power. The warm weather to the east clashed with the cold air coming from the west, causing these tornadoes. It was a thin line looking on the weather map, but if you were in it, that’s where the tornadoes happened.

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Saturday, December 9, 2023

Reminiscing about wreath making with mother and grandmother

Christmas tree

The fourteen inches of snow we got last weekend [is] now just a memory. What I see today [Dec. 4] is about two inches of wet slush with a combination of rain and wet snow falling outside, [and a] temperature of 32 degrees. The way my little intermittent brook is flowing today, we must have gotten well over an inch of rainfall yesterday [Dec. 3]. The outlet of my pond is flowing a full tube this afternoon, with mink tracks in the snow around the open water. I pulled all my pine marten traps last Thursday and only got two this season. With the beechnut crop as good as it was, these little critters are hard to attract to any bait when they have nuts to eat. I didn’t see an influx of mice around the garage, even with the big nut crop. I did have some chipmunks and a few gray and black squirrels move through my feeder area, but [it was] not as bad as I thought it was going to be.

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Saturday, December 2, 2023

Fat, happy birds make pit stop at feeders before journeying south

Carolina Wren and Downy Woodpecker

Looks like we will finally be getting some snow. Tug Hill is getting more than their share, being downwind from the big, open Lake Ontario. Depending on which way the wind blows, we could get a
good shot of the white stuff. Just yesterday, [Nov. 27] we had the ground white followed by rain at 28 degrees, making for a mess. That wet stuff doesn’t like to be blown or plowed. Luckily the driveway is frozen, so I don’t blow away some of the crushed stone along with the snow.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, November 25, 2023

Grandson Nathan shares tech-savvy skills, glimpsing Beaver Brook bridge project

Sunrise on Old Forge Pond

Winter keeps trying to put a white coat on our landscape, but it melts the next day. The cloud cover made for some nice sunrise and sunset photos. The waxing moon is just a slice of itself which may be hidden in the clouds tonight [Nov. 19]. It was beautiful right out our upstairs windows last night [Nov. 18]. Don Andrews caught one of those nice sunrises over [the] Old Forge Pond one morning. My grandson, Nathan, got a super sunset over Utica the night before. That shot will probably be his screensaver for a while until a better one comes.

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