Saturday, April 23, 2011

April 23, 2011

Ah, the sights and sounds of summer at Lake Wicwas.  It may not feel, smell or taste like summer yet, but yesterday it looked and sounded like it, as the sun was shining off open water, and the loons were calling. 

My fellow bird watchers (with the avian name - thanks for this picture!) reported that the loons returned on April 17th, even before ice-out, taking up residence in the stretch of open water near the inlet.
The Loons are back on Lake Wicwas

On April 22nd I declared ice-out.  (Defined when Stress Free can make all its ports of calls:  the boat ramp, our house, and my parents house.  That pretty much means the entire lake is navigable.)  This year, Marion Cove was about the last place to open.
Ice-Out on April 22

Even today there are still large sections of ice along the western side of the cove, but by this morning, the loons were swimming in the cove, diving right at the edge of the remaining ice.

But that was yesterday.  Today it looked more like December than April.  It snowed all morning, resulting in about an inch of wet snow on the ground, and weighing down the trees just like in winter.
April Snow

The snow even gathered on the surface of the lake, bringing back what looked like ice, but it was really just slush floating on the surface.  The birds swam right though it, leaving curving trails behind them like Coast Guard ice-breakers.

Today was the best day of nature observing in a long while.  In addition to the loons, we saw turkey, mergansers, a mink, and a new bird for us, a Ring-necked Duck.  This is a pretty neat looking bird, with a very distinctive beak to identify it.  Its beak is black with a white out-line around it.  It spent the entire morning diving in the cove, ignoring the snow that piled up on its back between dives.

Ringed-neck Duck

The snow made for finding good animal tracks.  This turkey followed along the trail, diverting into the woods when it heard me, and just disappeared.  The mink bounded right along the lake edge, poking its head into the brush and thickets every now and then in search of a snack.
Turkey Tracks

Mink Tracks

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