Sunday, May 19, 2013

May 19, 2013

Have you been sneezing this week?  Perhaps New Hampshire should endorse yet another season:  pollen season.  The crystal clear water we've enjoyed since the ice melted is now cloudy and thick with pollen.
Pollen on Lake Wicwas

If you look way up at the tops of the oak trees you will see long, dangling blossoms - hundreds of them - providing an idea of just how much pollen they release.  But all this pollen in Lake Wicwas probably serves as a food source for many small organism at the bottom of the food chain, in turn providing food for fish, amphibians, and birds of prey.

Yesterday, sitting on the deck on a calm evening, I heard a loud bird calling from the top of a tree, up where those oak blossoms are - a rather short, two-syllable, rising whistle that I didn't recognize.  I got the binoculars, but couldn't find it until it flew.  Then I could see it a bit, but it was way up in the tip top, and hard to get a good look, but it did look and behave like a flycatcher.  I got the laptop and went to my most trusted bird identification web site, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.  Going to the section on flycatchers, I started playing their calls to see if I could identify it.  When I played the Great Crested Flycatcher call, I was pretty sure that was it.  But then I played some of its longer calls, and all of a sudden, the bird called back!  It sang the same calls playing on the computer!  I took that as a pretty good confirmation of its identity.  I played a couple more calls and each time it responded;  I then decided to leave it alone.  I never got a picture of it, but looking it up on line, I found that it eats a lot more than flies!
Great Crested Flycatcher (Credit Joe McDonald)

Did you see an article in the May 9th edition of the Meredith News about the Wicwas Grange?  It's getting a major renovation, and its membership has risen from seven to almost 100 over the past three years.  Today, walking up to the Center, we saw a bustle of activity as people and equipment were doing outside landscaping.  It's looking pretty nice!
Wicwas Grange

On the walk, we also saw a new spider:  A Nursery Web Spider. 
Nursery Web Spider (Pisaurina mira)

Like many spiders, the female carries it eggs in a sac, but when they are ready to hatch, she builds a nursery web for them.  The young hatch and grow through their fist molt in the safety of the web, while the mother stays close by to defend her nursery from attackers.  

We also enjoyed the Lilacs blooming all around Lake Wicwas this week. 
Lilacs near Meredith Center

There are some beautiful lilacs at the house on the corner of Dow Road and Meredith Center Rd, across from the Lakeland School.

I had one other new experience this week.  Walking along a path on a mostly calm day, I noticed a couple of puffs of smoke coming up from a juniper tree.  Stopping to watch, of course, I saw no more and wondered if it was my imagination.  So I blew a breath of air at the tip of a branch, and poof - a burst of smoke-like pollen dispersed flew into the air.
Common Juniper (Juniperus Communis) Releasing Pollen
It has been extremely dry again around the lake, with the pine needles and leaves stiff and brittle on the ground.  But as I write, it is raining, so the fire danger may recede, as will, hopefully, the agony of the allergy sufferers!

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