Turkey buzzards enjoying ample supply of carrion

The month of April keeps “Fooling” with the weather.

This columnist planned on attending the monthly meeting of the New York Walleye Association on Tuesday in Black Rock. Heading out around 6 p.m. along Route 5, the weather was clear sailing until we got to Derby. A snow squall came in with visibility limited to less than 100 yards and travel reduced to a crawl. Opting to head back home, the skies cleared in Silver Creek. My wife and daughter traveled to Buffalo the same night on the Thruway and never saw a snow flake. Lee Weber, also from the Derby area, reported a similar scenario Wednesday morning when he traveled to the lake front and hit another snow fall which coated his vehicle with an 1/8 of an inch of snow. When he got back to his shop, there was zero evidence of snowfall in the area.

There was a report in the OBSERVER on Wednesday of a fish die off in Lake Erie near Angola. The Department of Environmental Conservation was reportedly contacted, and reported the die off of gizzard shad is a common occurrence, especially at this time of the year. Travelers can also witness this scenario along the Dunkirk beach area off the First Ward, which has been hosting large flocks of sea gulls feeding on the vast supply of fish food.

Another species that has been taking advantage of the ample supply of carrion are turkey buzzards which have been showing up along the lake front during the last few weeks. Last week during a trip to Erie along Route 5, my wife Mary and I spied an estimated flock of 100 buzzards flying and perched in pine trees and hardwoods in a spot between Brocton and Portland. Several deer carcasses seemed to be attracting their attention. One of my bird-watching buddies commented that the arrival of the turkey buzzards is a herald of spring like robins. It seemed more like an episode of AMC”s “The Walking Dead” to me.

The trout are out in most area streams with Cattaraugus Creek getting a lot of attention when the water is fishable. Today should be good, but warm temperatures and rainfall will swell many of the creeks later in the week. Look for a bullhead bite after a couple warm rainfalls. That shad die off will also attract bullheads closer to shore in protected, muck bottom areas.

There have been reports of limited ice fishing on Chautauqua Lake, but the ice has been eroding. Anglers report the ice will go fast once it starts to warm up so use caution or better yet, wait until it’s gone.Warm weather is in the forecast for the weekend.

Calendar:

A reminder that hunters have until April 5 to submit recommendations for dates for the 2013 duck hunting season to the regional Waterfowl Hunter Task Force. The dates can be in no more than two segments per zone and are limited to a 60-day season and must fall between the dates of Sept. 21 and no later than Jan. 6, 2014. For contact information, go to www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/42364.html.

The Jamestown Rifle Club will hold a pistol class April 28. You must be 21 years old and a resident of Chautauqua County. All classes begin at 1 p.m. and last around four hours each. Call Pat Hayes at 484-9301 for information.

There will be a hunter safety training course at the Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club on April 18-19. This is a mandatory two-day course that will run from 5-10 p.m. both evenings. This course is free.

There will also be a pistol course at the Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club on April 20. There is a $55 fee charged for this course which will run from 9:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. To register or for more information, call Gary at 366-3397.

The Westfield Fish & Game Club, located on Ogden Road, will conduct a hunter safety firearms class starting Monday, April 15 from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m., The course will resume on Saturday, April 20 starting at 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Students must be at least 12 years of age and attend both days. For more information call 326-3218.

There will be a firearms hunter safety course at the Bear Lake Rod & Gun Club on Friday, April 12 from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m. returning on Saturday, April 13 from 8:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Call Rich at 595-3917 for pre-registration.

The 20th annual State of Lake Erie Meeting will be held April 11 at the Southtowns Walleye Association Club House located at 5895 Southwestern Blvd., Hamburg. The meeting is scheduled from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. Lake Erie Fisheries Unit Leader Don Einhouse will speak on the warm water species, while Senior Fishery Biologist Jim Markham will focus on the cold water species. Dr. Chris Pennuto will cover invasive species and N.Y. Sea Grant representative Helen Domske will be the moderator. The meeting is free and open to the public.

For details on the State of Lake Ontario meeting that was held earlier this week, go to dec.ny.gov/outdoor/27068.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Personnel recently applied lampricides to Cattaraugus Creek to kill sea lamprey larvae burrowed in the stream bottom.

Gun Shows:

Little Valley Volunteer Fire Department will host its Sportsmen’s Show at the Cattaraugus County Fairgrounds, Route 353, Little Valley, on April 13-14. Call 938- 6928 for information.

Lander, Pa.: Sportsmen’s Show will be April 20-21. Call 814-757-9466 for information.

The Westfield Fish & Game Club will host its annual Ham & Steak Shoot on April 14 at their clubhouse located on Ogden Road. The event will be held rain or shine. All legal centerfire firearms will be permitted. Ammo supplied for birdshot and deer slugs. The .22 Caliber shoot, which will be held indoors, is a bring-your-own-ammo event.

Gene Pauszek is an OBSERVER outdoors columnist. Send comments to sports@observertoday.com.