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, April 22, 2023

In Loving Memory: Brother Bob joins Dad at family’s deer camp

Family at Memorial rock.

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos reminded me that this is Earth Week. With most of the snow gone from the roadsides and other traveled trails, it might be good to do a little litter picking to spruce up the area for visitors as they travel here. With record temperatures in the 80s in most parts of the state, the snow took it in the shorts almost everywhere. [The] ice in all the lakes is out, with Blue Mountain and Big Moose Lakes being the last to go out on Sunday [April 9]. Luckily, there was very little wind to move the shifting ice around where it would do damage to docks and boathouses around the lakes. Better catch what water you can now, as the snow runoff is about over and [then] it will take rainfall to fill the Fulton Chain. With the wacky weather, you never know if we are going to get a gully washer or sprinkles.

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Saturday, April 15, 2023

Spying crocuses, banding birds & enjoying Spring weather

Crocus

Our weather has been rather pleasant with nice days up into the forties and fifties, and then cooling down [at] night into the teens. The folks to the north of us got a bad ice storm, knocking out power in many parts of Canada. We had some thunderstorms roll through here on Wednesday [April 5] with some hail, but nothing like the quarter-size hail they got up in Martinsburg by Lowville. I had taken my truck down to Utica for repairs, and they gave me a brand-new [Toyota] RAV4 to take home that day.

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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.

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Saturday, April 1, 2023

“Winter” Recap: Banding more than 300 Evening Grosbeaks

 Fisher

We are having the tail end of the winter that didn’t happen here anyway. The folks out in the mountains of California and Nevada are looking at over 16 feet of snow in many places, with more coming this week with another atmospheric river coming ashore. Their reservoirs should be more than full when all this melts. Down south in Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia fifteen tornadoes ripped through parts of these states, killing 26 and leaving hundreds homeless.

Rescuers continue to search for loved ones of residents of a Mississippi town destroyed by a tornado that was on the ground for over ninety miles. In Rolling Fork, a delta town of 2,000, hardly anyone escaped the storm without losing someone they knew or loved. More storms are going through that same area later this week, with more tornadoes and heavy rain forecast all the way to the east coast.

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Saturday, March 25, 2023

Sweet Maple Syrup, A Fishing Otter, & An Unexpected Visitor

Eric Sutherland's Maple Moss Sugarworks Sugar House.

The first day of Spring has arrived with only a new inch of snow and 18 degrees on the thermometer…(better than the three inches of snow and strong winds the day before, but no loss of power.) Many others are still struggling with more water and snow than they can deal with. Others [are dealing with] with damage from high winds and tornadoes that came across the country during the last week. Many in the south had a hard freeze which will affect many flowering trees, shrubs, and some crops that were already up.

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Saturday, March 18, 2023

Peeking at backyard wildlife: A flying squirrel and barred owl

Barred owl in the yard

The couple inches of snow on Friday night [March 10] got us through the weekend for Snofest. It looks like we might need a snowmobile to get around this week, if all the snow predictions come true. Looking at the weather map, they are getting much more to the south of us just like most of the storms this year…some went south of us, and some went north of us. I did see some skiers enjoying the new snow on the ski trail out back both Saturday and Sunday [March 11 and 12.] I could hear the snowmobiles going up the shoulder of the road out front while here at my computer.

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Saturday, March 11, 2023

Tales of babysitting a coon cat, fat flying squirrels, and unpredictable weather

Snow Bunting

This week stayed more like winter…or at least the ground was white. I did blow out the driveway a couple times, but after the first snowstorm there was nothing but a misty rain the following day which froze [and created] a sharp crust on the snow that night. I had a couple runs to Utica this week and one day it was 33 degrees the whole way with light rain but when I got to Deerfield Hill it was a whiteout. Then going down the other side I could see all of Utica. Coming home that night it was the same [temperature] (33 degrees) and light rain until I hit Old Forge. Then it went [down] to 29 degrees and [I had] an instant freeze on my windshield at the top of the summit. I’m glad it wasn’t that way all the way home.

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Saturday, March 4, 2023

Inlet’s Frozen Fire & Lights a snowy success despite lack of wind

Trumpeter Swans

Well, we had our sixth January thaw this week as the temperature got up to 51 [degrees] on Tuesday [Feb. 21] and 49 [degrees] on Wednesday [Feb. 22.] [The temperature] dipped down, so it could snow Thursday [Feb. 23] morning about six inches. Then the temperature went up all day, and hovered right around freezing. When Karen came home from the library, it was 28 degrees and raining which put a razor-sharp crust on what snow we had. Then it zipped down below zero and didn’t get much above zero all day Friday [Feb. 24]. We got a couple more inches of snow and then right during Inlet’s Frozen Fire & Lights activities it snowed more, but not a wisp of wind for the kite fliers [on] Saturday afternoon [Feb. 25].

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Saturday, February 25, 2023

Remembering the Atomic Project, and the hydrochloric acid incident of 1956

Red wing blackbird

More spring-like weather this week, [with] temperatures up to 51 [degrees] on Wednesday, [February 15], and I had a Red Wing Blackbird at the feeder. Then it was up to 49 [degrees] on Thursday, [February 16] with some rain and snow late in the day. Friday, [February 17] I went to Utica and the temperature was 35 [degrees] all the way down, with wet snow falling. [I] got my truck serviced and headed home and it was still 35 degrees there, but went down to 22 [degrees] by the time I hit Old Forge. [There was] no rain or snow [at the time], just a trace overnight, but the temperature zipped down to 10 [degrees]. That brought the Evening Grosbeaks into the feeder that morning and I banded eight before we went to the Chili Bowl [Luncheon] at View.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, February 18, 2023

Free Fishing Days this weekend, ice anglers enjoying atypical winter

Amaryllis

This week was a February thaw most of the time, with rain and wet snow. Then Friday night [Feb. 10] we did get two inches of nice snow to start the weekend…and Old Forge’s Winter Carnival. About the only time I got outside was to feed the birds and get the mail, as the ankle is still not up to par. The cold I had, I passed on to Karen and so far, we have both survived it. Got tested for Covid and strep throat, had neither…just a good, old fashioned cold. Alka-Seltzer, cough drops, and many naps for the cure.

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Sunday, February 12, 2023

Looking Back to a Simpler Time: Being Paid with Food, Gardening & Camping

Valentine Cactus

So many big nature-related events happened this week, it will be hard to fit them all in. Most of you suffered through the two-day, one-night super freeze and way below zero windchill factor that would freeze any exposed skin in a matter of minutes. We had -27 here at Eight Acre Wood that morning and the birds at the feeder were sitting on their feet to keep them warm. [We had] 75 Evening Grosbeaks that morning, and the single White-Throated Sparrow was the first at the feeders, he even ate with the grosbeaks all around him.

 

My daughter, Erin, called me on Saturday, [Feb. 4] at quarter to three from the front porch [of her condo] in Myrtle Beach to say they just shot down the weather balloon. Photos coming via the internet. Well, I couldn’t have gotten that any sooner on the national news. They had been watching it for quite a while behind the building and then over the ocean where four jets had been all around it. Then one shot it down with a rocket. Now when she walks the beach, she will be looking for balloon parts, not shark’s teeth.

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Sunday, February 5, 2023

Born with a gun in one hand and a fishing pole in the other, remembering Brother Bob

Black-Naped Pheasant-Pigeon

Winter just doesn’t want to happen this year. We get a little good snow for skiing and then it rains on top. This makes a hard crust and [doesn’t allow for] much control on cross-country skis unless you have steel edges, as some do. I never had any, mine are just no wax, but I still rub a candle on mine. I once went up for in-service training at Whiteface Mountain for telemark training. I only had one pair of skis, the same pair I still have with no edges and toe bindings.

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Saturday, January 28, 2023

Spring-Like Weather Confuses Birds, 2023 Duck Count Results

Ravens on a trail cam

The inch of snow we got here was just about enough to cover the ground. With all the rain we had before the snow, it sure made for an icy mix out in the woods to walk on. I found out the hard way, as I was out back on the ski trail cutting beech stubs that I left last winter…cutting them in deep snow. While walking back in, I took a slip down a little hill and rolled over my right ankle, which hurt pretty bad. I [was] a mile from the house and I said to myself, “This is going to be a long mile walk.” I got to the house just before Karen came home. We put ice on it until I went to bed, and it only swelled a little…but still not good.

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Saturday, January 21, 2023

Follow that Quacking: Observing 75 Mallards and one Black Duck in Inlet

Mallard ducks on water

Things at Eight Acre Wood look about the same as they did last week, with only an inch of new snow to make the landscape white. That shows the critters who have been wandering around the yard. [Some of these include] several deer, a coyote, a fisher, a mink, an otter, a snowshoe hare, one turkey, several varieties of mice, a pine marten, a couple red squirrels, a flying squirrel, ravens, crows, and a Bald Eagle stopped by for a snack on the dam. Most of them also got caught on one of my trail cameras, as many of them are night travelers. In all my hikes, I thought I might even see a bear track, but I guess they are smarter than that. There is nothing for them to eat right now, so they better stay napping.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, January 14, 2023

Bizarre weather, clearing debris from trails, and banding over 175 Evening Grosbeaks

Still no winter weather in sight. [There is a] combination of rain and snow in the forecast during the next week, so the snow dancers better get back in action. Out west, California is getting hammered for the last two weeks and more [is] coming today (January 9). Five inches of rain [is] forecast across most of the state, with four to five feet of snow in the mountains…they just can’t get a break. They had lots of flooding from the first two storms, and now this one on top will cause mudslides from areas bare from the forest fires.

» Continue Reading.



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