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Along the Lakeshore: A New York history lesson

My ancestors were very much involved with Native American warfare in the center of New York state. In 1777, Col. Samuel Clyde was commander of a garrison at Cooperstown. His group was ordered to reinforce Fort Stanwix in Rome, and while away, the Iroquois raided Cooperstown. His wife fled with all the women and children and hid in a swamp for 36 hours. The March weather was beastly and the group was dressed in what they could grab as they left their homes. In spite of this, they survived. The colonel came back with some of his troops and they rebuilt the village.

The pond in front of my house has now become a lake covering the whole Bentley Cove area. There has been extensive snow goose action, with thousands roosting at night on the ice near the water. A regular contingent of Canada geese starts to drop in about 6 p.m., gradually building up to 750 to 1,500 by nightfall. The noise of all these birds honking back and forth goes on for most of the night, reaching a peak after a while and settling back down to a dull roar. They all take off in groups in the morning. The snow geese generally make a few false starts, with lots of wing noise and chatter, until they finally get together and zip off to some open fields to eat grass and corn leavings.

The number of ducks has remained pretty constant, depending on the time of day and weather conditions. Our little lake is so big now that they are scattered all over, but I think the numbers remain somewhere between 60 and 100.

I don’t think we have had a returning migration of Canada geese from the south. I think our group is local and they can’t find any other open water. However, as spring moves on, more water will open up and they will find other spots. It would be interesting to have a full-blown migration of Canada geese drop into the lake along with the snow geese still hanging around. Wow! That would be some racket at night.

Joseph Spalding is a long-time Skaneateles resident who enjoys sharing his observations about the Skaneateles lakeshore and community. He can be reached at 685-6937.

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