Along the Lakeshore: Animals on the ice; Gaylord Loveless

We had negative 9 degrees along the lakeshore this week. This is in contrast to 60 degrees three years ago, which got the apple blossoms working and ultimately caused a crop failure when a cold snap in late March killed premature fruit buds.

Our hole in the ice grew larger last week and the diving ducks really liked having a new pristine bottom to graze. The cold weather on Monday and Tuesday closed up some of the open water again.

A new and first-ever long-tailed duck arrived Saturday and stayed until Tuesday afternoon. The Peterson book calls it “Old Squaw,” but the new Sibley says it is a long-tailed duck. They have tail feathers that jut up to the rear, starting about halfway towards the back end. The duck is black and white and a vigorous diver, so he fits right in with the redheads.

The eagle arrived Saturday morning and took one of the redheads. The remaining ducks just stayed in the pond and the eagle took off for some other lunch spot, leaving most of the carcass behind. Dave Graham ventured out on the ice and was accompanied by Gus his corgi and Zip the neighborhood 125-pound golden lab. Zip presented him with a partial redhead body that indicated the eagle only dined on the breast meat.

Dave later conversed with some ice fisherman near Eric Pitman’s roost to the south. The fishing was not bad and the ice varied from 8 to 12 inches thick. The footing was secure, as the snow had adhered to the ice surface. A week ago, when it froze up after rain, many parts were extremely smooth and it was difficult to stay on your feet.

Some years ago we had a dose of black ice on the lake near Bill Gregory’s house on Gayle Road. The taller dogs like labs were walking very tenderly to prevent splits as their long legs wiped out sideways. Sandy, my 13-inch Beagle, had no problems and Bill’s short-legged Beagle-shepherd mix had no problem either. They were cutting sharp turns and getting the long-legged dogs to flop on the ice. The skating was excellent and lasted for a day or two until some snow froze to the ice and spoiled it.

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