Thursday, November 17, 2011

Aerie Report, November 17, 2011

Monday evening we had a period of rain that the weather service thought sever enough to issue warnings. We were lucky enough to avoid the hail, lightning and thunder but did get some torrential down pours. Tuesday morning when I emptied the rain gauge it held 1.7 inches of water, most of it from Monday evening/night. With colder weather on the way, I decided to bring the plastic gauge inside where I washed it and stored it until spring. Of course, we got a little more rain Wednesday afternoon and evening.

I'm glad I brought the gauge inside, though. See, the temperatures, which hadn't dipped below 40 degrees lately, suddenly plummeted to 28 degrees last night. Would it have frozen any water in the gauge? Unknown, but there was ice on the deck. Looks like today we will not see the upward side of 35 degrees and the overcast skies are promising some snow flurry action latter this afternoon and early evening. is saying there will be no accumulation, however, and I'm hoping they are correct.

Meanwhile, I've built another fire in the fireplace and the house will soon be toasty warm without having to jack the thermostats up.


The birds and squirrels are pleased that I've resumed putting the feeders out. We've been getting the regular horde of chickadees, mourning doves, and tufted titmice with a few goldfinches and juncos thrown in for good measure.

The squirrel numbers have grown slowly from the solitary visitor to five at one time. These are just the scouts, however. I'm sure that as winter sets in we'll be seeing 10 or 12 tree rats looking for a handout as they #Occupy the feeders.


Last night's Audubon Society dinner was not well attended but the speaker, an expert on mountain lions, was quite good. Kerry Gyekis is a former Tioga County Planning Director who began investigating cougar sightings as a hobby but now pursues the big cats as a second career. His story was featured in the area's leading free magazine Mountain Home back in November 2007. He's been trained out west and knows signs of cougars when he sees them. He's also been all over the northeast investigating reports of cat sightings and, while admitting there have been and are some legit reports, says 99.9% of them are of critters which have escaped from captivity. That final 0.1% are immature males kicked out of their momma's care and out searching for a home and mate. But mostly a mate. (Females are more homebodies and don't travel too far from their birth places.) These poor lost souls made a wrong turn in their travels and headed east only to discover that there just aren't any girls around.

Gyekis' presence brought his replacement, the current Tioga County Planning Director, Jim Weaver, to our little party. Jim spoke briefly of Pennsylvania DNCR's plan to develop a huge area just to the west and southwest of here as a High Conservation Value Forest, or HCVF for short. While not strictly a "wilderness" designation, a HCVF does provide protection for critical habitat for flora and fauna alike. Areas of Potter, Tioga, Clinton, and Lycoming counties are being considered for inclusion. Much of the land is already state forest, parks or game lands.


Speaking with Kerry before dinner I discovered his son was flying in Iraq out of Al Asad Air Base when my son was over there providing ground security in 2004-2005. It's a very small world sometimes.


I buttonholed Jim after the meeting to talk about wells being drilled or permitted to be drilled. He said that now that Shell has bought out EAST, they've been going at it hammer and tong. There are a dozen or so rigs in the area and Shell expects to double that soon. Where EAST had a 7-10 year plan, Shell has compressed things to 5 years. With many of the leases set to expire in two years time, and the retention of their rights dependent upon Shell's at least beginning to drill ("spading" it's called) the more rapid approach is understandable. (In "spading" they go down but not necessarily out. They can come back later and begin to horizontally expand their reach.)

Today, Jim sent me a link to the process being used to designate the HCVF and also a map of current and proposed wells nearest the Aerie. Vis-a-vis the latter, we are outside the blue line I take to be the reach of Shell's current wells, by t-h-i-s much and therefore should expect no $$$ from the gas beneath us. That could change however as there's at least one permitted site nearer to our location. Heh. If it happens it happens. We'll know more around the year 2014 when our current gas/mineral lease expires.

1 comment:

Rev. Paul said...

"#Occupy the feeders"