From Loon Lake Road – A touch of frost, flocks of birds flying south

Barbara Hendricks' monthly column of community news and events in Loon Lake.

Cranes flying south

Summer left from Loon Lake Road on Sept. 16, five days before the calendar said it ended. It was a good summer with plenty of sunshine, warm weather and good conditions for enjoying outdoor life. September 16 started with a long, earth drenching rain and cooler temperatures, accompanied by the sound of flocks of Sandhill cranes heading south.

The ground was very dry in the early part of September and there was a small wildfire on the plateau north of the lake which was quickly handled by Wildfire Management Branch. I started to hope for rain, then thought that one better be careful about what one hopes for considering the way rain has been coming down in places like Colorado lately. I can’t imagine what kind of damage seven inches of rain falling at one time would do to our valley.

At Loon Lake Road, we are most fortunate to be in a location that has not been subject to major weather problems; flooding, wind storms and heavy snowfalls happen but so far in the history of settlement here nothing extreme.

With no records kept of weather, there are no records to be broken; however some conditions are worth noting. The growing seasons seems to be getting a bit longer and some years we have success with over wintering plants that prefer warmer climates than Loon Lake valley. The first frost touched my garden on Sept. 24. This means that there was a frost free growing season here this year of 122 days – quite possibly a record – if records were being kept on Loon Lake valley weather and climate.

Habits switch to winter mode

September is a month of change and migration. It is time to put away open toed shoes and pull on the socks again. Time to dig out the harvest of those plants so lovingly set in the ground in late May. A pumpkin had decided to take over the compost pile, however it did not manage to ripen any on the many fruit set.

A flock of snow geese was reported on the lake in mid September and Canada geese were also observed stopping at the lake on their way to greener pastures. Early in September the little flock of hummingbirds that had fought over our feeders and entertained us all summer had moved on. However stray hummingbirds are still passing through here at the end of September and tanking up at the feeder before flying on.

Passing flocks of robins have raided the berries on the mountain ash and elder trees. There is a very good crop of evergreen cones and the squirrels are busy falling cones in nearly every tree – just about need a hard hat on to do yard work.

The nature and wildlife around us has changed and adapted to some extent to living amongst us. Hummingbirds must recognize those familiar feeders at a great distance and home in on them.

Deer have become accustomed to living near to our homes and enjoy eating a much wider variety of non native garden plants. They have developed a taste for exotic plants like sedums and bergenia and seem to be able to sniff them out in every garden. They likely find some security as well as ease in the nearness to residential areas which have been built up in their preferred habitat.

This year I have heard reports of a “nanny” doe living about midway along the lake who is caring for up to five young deer, two are her own young and the others she seems to have taken under her wing when they lost their mothers. Isn’t nature amazing when you stop to watch it? Perhaps soon there will be deer schools to teach them to cross the road only where there are signed deer crossings.

Boil Water and Loon Lake Park

On Sept. 20, the TNRD issued a “Boil Water” advisory to all Loon Lake Road residents connected to the Loon Lake water system. Residents are advised to boil all water used to wash fruits and vegetables and for drinking at least one minute or use an alternate source of water. This highlights just how precious clean potable water is.

Another Loon Lake Road issue on the TNRD agenda is discussions around “repurposing” Loon Lake Park.  The park is a provincial park but has been closed for many years now, even though many maps and guides still list it. Further updates will be posted as more information becomes available.

Barbara Hendricks