Sunday, September 16, 2012

September 16, 2012

More signs that summer is fading fast - we're losing about three minutes of day light every day now.  Cool, dry, fall weather blew over Lake Wicwas this weekend, allowing the atmosphere to cool quickly once the sun set, bringing the coolest temperatures since May.  The dense, cool air mass flowed down the slopes around the lake, promoting a visceral mist as it encountered the warm surface of Lake Wicwas.

The birds are noticing it too, as the first flocks of Canada Geese are heading on their way southward - but not our flock yet.
Canada Geese

We are beginning to see more of the impatient members of the plant world too.

Our loon chick has matured noticeably in the last two weeks.  Compare these pictures to August 28.

It has lost almost all of its baby fuzz, it has adult markings now, and is gaining in size.

Its wings are developing, and it is starting to investigate what they are all about.

Look at how it folds them all up to put them back into storage.  It looks like one of those hard-top convertible cars with an automated roof.

It will be ready to use those new appendages in a couple of months.

I also saw the osprey again.

It fooled me by perching high up in the top of a tree - from a distance I thought it was an eagle, as that is an eagle's usual observation post.

More mammal activity is also evident; they are all fattening up for the winter.  I heard deer in the woods, though didn't see any, other than one right on the road as I drove in.  I found a three foot long branch lying on a trail, with most of its leaves nibbled off.

But it wasn't a deer, as it was cut off cleanly right at the ground rather than ripped from up high (I had to search a bit to find from where it was cut).

This perfect 45 degree cut, which looks like it was made with pruning shears, is the sure sign of a rabbit.  It cut off the young sapling so it could acquire the tender leaves that were out of its reach.

There is more scat on the trails too - I'm pretty sure this is coyote scat based on its diameter of 3/4".

He's probably delighted that the rabbits and deer are eating well!

We took a trip up to Ossipee and walked a couple of very nice trails there.  The first was in the Ossipee Pine Barrens which is a rare and very unique habitat in New Hampshire.  The second was around White Lake at White Lake State Park.  There we found a vivid, almost psychedelic fungus growing all along a downed tree.  Although it's not Lake Wicwas, it is too fascinating to not share it.
I think it's a polypore, and I'm guessing the orange pigment is being pulled from the host tree.  Remember the red wood under the fallen tree after the storm on July 4th?  It had bright red color just under its bark.  Perhaps this is the same kind of tree, and the fungus is drawing on that coloring.

Back to Lake Wicwas, here's another look at the coming season.

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