Along the Lakeshore: Horned grebes on the lake; an idea to save the county money

When we returned from our Rhode Island trip, we had a message from Dave Graham about seeing two horned grebes and two buffleheads in Bentley Cove. I looked up grebes in Mr. Sibley’s book and he says they are similar to loons, but smaller, with lobed toes and longer necks. They look a lot like a small duck and the head is sort of flat-topped. The cheeks below their eyes are white, the neck is dark, almost black, and the wings are whitish-gray. The breeding season (April through August) brings on a great change in color. The head has a bright yellow patch, the neck is red, the cheeks below their eyes are black, and the whitish-gray wings are sort of rusty colored. If they happen by again, I think I will be able to recognize them.

The lake level is hanging in at just below 862 feet. I’d be very pleased if they could get it down below 861.5 feet during January.

Water is coursing down the creek and I’ve always felt that this is a real waste. The quality of Skaneateles Lake water is excellent and requires very little treatment. I think the city could lease some of this extra water to Onondaga County Water Authority and earn credits toward the county water that Syracuse sometimes has to purchase if the level of the lake drops in August due to drought. The OCWA water from Lake Ontario is extensively treated because the Syracuse, Fulton, and Oswego wastewater has been discharged into Lake Ontario. It is then pumped to Syracuse from Oswego. All that cost could be avoided for three to six months of the year if there was a political will to solve this problem and the citizens of the county would have better water on average.

My birdfeeders had a really limited play this last fall season. In past years, a fill-up lasted five to six days. This year it’s lasting three to four weeks. David Graham says his traffic is down also, but not as much as mine. We have a few squirrels happen by. However, they are challenged by the features on my feeder that close the four doors when the squirrels,

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