Saturday, July 31, 2010

July 31, 2010

It was rather cool this morning, with a fall-like feel, especially after all the hot, humid weather.  With a couple of cooler nights, the lake has become a little cooler, but still nice and warm for swimming, and the fishing remains very good.  There were a lot of bass boats on the lake this morning; probably another bass tournament.

We have noticed that there are a lot fewer bats around this summer than there have been in the past;  most likely the "White Nose Syndrome" has come to the area around Lake Wicwas.  In years past we had a constant stream of bats flying around the waterfront at, or around dark on every warm summer evening  - too many to count.  This year, if we see any, it's only a couple for just a few minutes.  And it's sad, not just for the fun of watching them, and for the bat population, but also for the insect population, as a bat can eat its weight in insects every night.  
Little Brown Bat
The bats we have at Lake Wicwas are Little Brown Bats, which are affected by White Nose Syndrome, though experts don't know exactly why or how it kills them.  One of the symptoms is bats losing their fat stores (needed for winter hibernation), and activity during the day.  The past few  summers I have observed several instances of bats being out during the day, including this one I actually heard squeaking as I walked by.  Going back to investigate the sound, I found it clinging to a hemlock tree. This picture was taken at 11:20 in the morning.

Next weekend is the Lake Wicwas Association annual meeting - Saturday at 9:30am at the Meredith Center Fire Station; we hope to see everyone there!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

July 24, 2010

This morning, much to my surprise, I found a mother deer with three fawns! She was keeping them all close together and right at the edge of the woods. I watched them graze for a few minutes before she shooed them off into the forest.  They all still have their spots, although there is a clear difference in size between the three. I guess the deer had a healthy winter this year.

With a just a bit of rain last night the Eastern Newts were back on the trails. There wasn't enough rain to penetrate the forest canopy, as the ground was dry under the trees, but it did dampen the trails where the canopy is thin, and that's where they all were.  The Red Eft stage is the immature phase, where they stay on land for two or three years before they return to the water as adults.  This one was good size, with clear spots.  Some of the smaller ones I saw earlier must have been newly hatched.  Forty years we would find a dozen adult newts swimming on any of the beaches around the lake every time we approached the water.  You could chase them to shallow water and easily catch them.  Today I rarely see an adult Newt in Lake Wicwas, and they are usually in marshy areas.  Has anyone seen many adults lately?

Eastern Newt - Red Eft Stage
Orange must be the color of the day - I found these miniature mushrooms growing amongst the pine needles.  They are only about half an inch tall.
We have seen five loons on the lake lately, but this evening for the first time, there were six.
They seemed to be getting along well together, as all six fished quietly in the cove together for over an hour.
Thanks to Linda for taking these pictures while I was out fishing.  It was another great evening of fishing, warm and humid, with a fabulous full moon rising over the Chemung Forest and Lake Wicwas.

Friday, July 23, 2010

July 23, 2010

All the animals around Lake Wicwas are getting larger as the summer progresses.  I saw the fawn this morning; it's getting big - it now bounds quickly and directly to the thick woods rather than bouncing every which way.  And the small creatures are growing also, including the Water Spiders.  Last weekend I found a discarded exoskelton on the dock
and this weekend I found this guy in our boat.  Note the deformed left rear leg, although it doesn't seem to be holding him back much.
I also found a large egg mass in about two feet of water.   It is about six inches long, and attached to a stick they way salamanders deposit their eggs, but I don't know if that's what these eggs are.  I'll watch it over time and see if I can figure it out.  Any ideas?

With the little bit of rain we had there were lots of Red Efts on the trails today, but not much other wildlife visible.  And the Blueberries are still going strong - plentiful and sweet.  This afternoon I picked a beautiful batch; we'll be having blueberry dessert tonight!

Monday, July 19, 2010

July 18, 2010

There was a bass tournament on Lake Wicwas this weekend, with lots of bass boats poking around all the coves on Saturday. The fishing is still good, as the fishermen we spoke with were quite pleased with their catch. I even caught a nice largemouth right off our dock on Friday evening.

Even with all the dry weather, mushroom season is starting. I love the way the large mushrooms form underground and then emerge, pushing all the leaf debris right up with them. I found fresh Indian Pipe also.

Indian Pipe

The Fragrant Water Lillies are blooming everywhere; Arbutus Hill Pond is covered with them.

I have seen lots more owl activity the past week. Up by Arbutus Hill Pond this morning I saw one fly over the trail, and this evening there were two owls calling behind our house. For quite some time they just called back and forth answering each other. Then a third owl joined in, and the tone changed to a much more threatening call, and that was it - they were all gone.

Arbutus Hill Pond

The weekend ended with a nice sunset and cooler temperatures.

Friday, July 9, 2010

July 9, 2010

Today was a bit cooler, though we still hit 93 degrees - the sixth day in row over 90.  But with less humidity and a breeze there was a bit more activity on the lake.  I saw this Great Blue Heron on the north shore right about noon time, and with some patience was able to get a shot when he took off, complete with his landing gear still extended.
The blueberries are in full season now, with the low-bush along the trails in the woods and the the high-bush near the lake.  It looks like a good season with all the heat we're having; now we just need a little rain as forecast for tomorrow.
 We saw the barge going up and down the lake this week, bringing loads of top soil to Bryant Island, which likely means the leach field is finished.  They have moored the barge at the east end of the island now - where the house lot is - but have removed the engine compartment and put it up on top of the barge.  Perhaps that means they are done working for a while.
Here's another sign of man's impact on Lake Wicwas.  I found this ancient oil barrel (it's "Texaco Track Roller Lubricant - Medium") down by the inlet near route 104.  It's clearly quite old, but it does show how tenacious mother nature can be!


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

July 7, 2010

With four days of 90 degree weather - and near 100 the last two days - the water in the lake has become awfully warm. With today being very calm, the surface in particular is almost hot. Bits of green algae are starting to coagulate and float near the surface.

This afternoon as Linda and I were floating in the lake we heard a strange croaking sound, like a cross between a Bull Frog and a duck. It was against the shore, and it was joined by a rustling of leaves. Paddling over to investigate, it took me a while to locate it, but finally I found the source: a large Bull Frog fully engaged in the mouth of an even larger Northern Water Snake. Thus the sound of a somewhat altered frog. I took a couple of pictures, but the snake had hidden itself quite well under leaves to enjoy its meal in privacy. It did however crawl into the lake when it saw me, and finished its lunch there.

Another live nature show on Lake Wicwas.

Later in the evening a single loon was floating in front of the house, providing an opportunity for some great photos.

The lake level is holding up very well considering the hot weather and the lack of rain.

Monday, July 5, 2010

July 5, 2010

We may have a beautiful lake, but like most lakes in New Hampshire, Lake Wicwas is not without its issues. As seen by this flotilla which sailed by this evening at about 7:00, we have an exploding goose population. Only five or six years ago, Canada Geese weren't very common on Wicwas. But starting a few years back they began breeding, and every year there have been more. This year there are three breeding pairs, and as best I can count, they have 19 chicks. With no natural predators, there will likely be even more next year. The islands on the lake have become fouled with goose poop.

On a more positive note, I did see the fawn this evening while I was out taking pictures of the geese. I expect the hunters will keep the deer population in check as long as there is enough undeveloped land around the lake to allow hunting to take place.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

July 4th, 2010

What a beautiful Independance Day on Lake Wicwas! There were lots of people out enjoying the lake today: kayaks, canoes, fisherpeople, skiers and tubers. There were some clouds in the afternoon, and even a sprinkle of about two dozen raindrops, but a great day for doing anything on the lake. The fishing was quite good today, with lots of action in the morning and in the evening.

This morning four loons swam out from one of the marshes together. There have been two pairs of loons on the lake this year, but this is the first time I've seen them all swimming together as a group. They were clearly comfortable with each other; I'm guessing nesting season is over - another year without a successful nest. After a few minutes a fifth loon came out to join them; one pair hung back to greet it but there was no altercation. The five of them them then swam down the middle of the lake, but the fifth stayed a good distance behind the others. Half way down the lake the lead loon suddenly turned around and took off, flying right down the line of birds. I wondered if would go after the lone loon, but it flew right by and I never saw it return. Its mate then did the same thing, but as soon as it gotten airborne it waterskiied back down and joined the other pair. They then continued down the lake where I lost sight of them in another ten minutes or so.

I found this Water Scorpion near shore today. They reportedly can sting, but I have handled them in the past without any problem. They look like an aquatic relative of a Walking Stick.

Although the big fireworks are tonight, nature's display continues on these warm summer evenings with many fireflies still lighting the fields as soon as it gets dark.

Friday, July 2, 2010

July 2, 2010

On a cool morning, with mist coming off the water, it looked more like late August than early July. But it was a fabulous day around Lake Wicwas, and we took a hike up to the White Mountain Ledge where we had beautiful views of the Franconia Range, the Osceolas, and Mt. Chocorua.

The spring flowers are gone now, but the summer blooms and berries are quickly taking their place. The Whorled Loosestrife are blooming, and the Bunchberries are brightening the forest floor with their spashes of red. I even found some Shinleaf blooming.

Whorled Loosestrife

The deer are becoming more bold. This morning I watched one deer from 30 yards away, who just stood and stared at me. After a while it started snorting and stamping its front hoof. Eventually it walked slowly away, clearly annoyed at me, snorting all the way back into the woods. Later, two deer just watched me walk past them about 100 yards away. Earlier in the year they would have bounded off into the woods at the mere detection of my motion.