On Friday night I’d made plans to catch up with an old coworker. Julie, a former member of the Project Puffin team, was in town for a conference, so we decided to meet in Manhattan. After we unsuccessfully entered the Hamilton ticket lottery, we grabbed food and drinks at McGee’s. While sipping our How I Met Your Mother-themed cocktails, we discussed a variety of topics including the blizzard that was reportedly heading our way. Flight cancellations meant she’d be staying an extra night in the city. If the storm didn’t live up to the media hype, maybe we’d go build a snowman in Central Park or try to snag some cancelled tickets for Hamilton. Additional plans were all dependent on the state of public transport in and out of the city, so we said good night saying we’d see what happens
“Winter Storm Jonas” ended up hitting NYC and Long Island as advertised, and leaving quite a bit of snow in its wake. Forecasts had ranged from a few inches to a few feet, and we soundly broke the 12-inch threshold even without drifts taken into account. Lynbrook was looking at about 2 feet of snow that blew into even larger piles. Parts of Queens, not far from where I work, were pushing 3 feet of straight accumulation. All travel around the Island and City by road or rail ground to a halt. Saturday ended up being a very lazy day, watching the snow pile up and only clearing enough to make the next day’s shoveling manageable. I got some grading done, took pictures of my bird feeders through the windows, and watched a movie with my parents. Mostly I just caught my breath after a long work week.
After roughly 24 hours, the storm finally came to an end. Sunday morning saw the good people of New York emerging from their dens to begin the arduous task of digging out. Thanks to a neighbor’s work on the sidewalk and our property pre-clean the day before, there wasn’t too much to do. I even got to spend a some quality time with my sister digging tunnels in the backyard. When I headed to Dad’s office, I found drifts up to 5 feet tall where he usually parks his car. By combining efforts with a snowblower and a shovel, Dad and I were able to clear the whole area in a little more than an hour. Though it took a while to find the best technique, the snow started flying once we got a good system going. Thankfully, the folks next door to his business had a far stronger blower to take care of their side and some of the shared space.
Before I settled in for the evening, I wanted to get out and do some birding. The only birds I’d seen since clocking out on Friday were my first-of-year raven over 8th Avenue before the lottery and the local species at my feeder during the blizzard. Road conditions convinced me not to travel too far, but I did check out Hempstead Lake and nearby Smith Pond. Both locations featured extensive freezing, but the patches of open water were hosting large numbers of waterfowl. Common and Hooded Merganser, Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Wood Duck, Ring-necked Duck, Northern Shoveler, Pied-billed Grebe, and American Coot were among the highlights. I also found a Peregrine Falcon at Hempstead and a Belted Kingfisher at Smith, along with some woodland birds like Carolina Wren and Hermit Thrush. Satisfied with my sightings, I fought my way back through the snow and returned home for a nice, hot meal.
Year List Update, January 24 – 119 Species (+ Common Raven, Common Merganser)