Sunday, September 19, 2010

September 19, 2010

Red continues to be the color of the season.  Walking to Arbutus Hill Pond, I saw many Red Efts still on the trail, and bright red Swamp Rose hips are along the shore of Lake Wicwas. 
Swamp Rose

I watched a Ruby-Throated Hummingbird collecting nectar from several stands of red (cultivated) flowers, spending a long time going from blossom to blossom.  And then of course, there is this harbinger of things to come:

In Arbutus Hill Pond there was a large group of ducks, over a dozen.  There are several heron nests there; I didn't see any herons in Arbutus Hill Pond, but I did see one later in Lake Wicwas.  There were also quite a few ducks in Lake Wicwas - where I have seen flocks of ducks preening, there have been dozens of feathers floating on the surface.  This feather, with distinctive markings, and the autumn sky reflecting off the water was special.

Near shore I saw this young Northern Water Snake - they are much more colorful when young, as they become darker, almost black, as they age.

Northern Water Snake
The water in Lake Wicwas is extremely clear right now.  This is probably due to the lack of rain this year, including thunderstorms, which wash silt into the lake.  But I believe the lake has also become much clearer in general over the years.  When I was a kid I remember noting how brown the water was in the turbulence behind a motor boat.  Today the water appears more blue-green.  It is still a far cry from the clear blue of lake like Winnepesaukee, but it's a significant change over 40 years.  I expect much of it is due to the settling of the washout from the logging that was done in the first half of the 20th century.

There are still signs of logging evident in the lake today, including remnants of the sawdust pile at the southern tip of the lake, and the logs that float up to the surface every year.  These remnants from logging have been waterlogged for years, slowly decomposing at the bottom of the lake.  As they build up gas in the wood, they eventually become less dense, and when they equal the density of water they float up to the surface.  They are never perfectly balanced though, so one end floats up first, presenting quite a hazard to boats as they float with one end right at the surface.  Or sometimes the heavy end gets stuck on the bottom, and the lighter end lurks just below the surface.  There is evidence of one of these taking its toll on a boat, as a single propeller blade is deeply embedded in the top of of these vertical logs about 30 feet from the western shore of the lake.

Several of these logs floated to the surface in 2010, and good Samaritans dragged them over to the boat landing to remove them from being a hazard.
Linda was brave enough to put the bird feeder back up, at least during the day while we can watch it, and within two hours we had the usual mixed flock, including several good size Hairy Woodpeckers.
Hairy Woodpecker
This Black-and-Yellow Garden Spider was hanging upside down in its web, waiting for unsuspecting insects to fly in.  I expect the dots on its abdomen serve as a self-defense feature, appearing as eyes to keep birds away.  It won't be long before they are gone for the season.
Black-and-Yellow Garden Spider (Argriope aurantia)

The lake is still warm enough for hardy souls to swim, or even windsurf, as I saw on Saturday afternoon.  There are still plenty of boats on the lake, and lots of opportunity for more great fall weather.

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