Sunday, June 9, 2013

June 9, 2013

Get yourself comfortable - with no post last week due to concerts, there's a lot of nature to report on this week!

First, Linda saw a very young fawn!  It was with its mother, and as soon as they saw each other (Linda and the doe that is), the doe hustled her fawn quickly up into the woods to safety.  I believe I saw the same doe the next day in a field, but I didn't go investigating.  It was probably right next to the fawn which was hidden down in the grass, and I didn't want to disturb it.  But the adult was far too patient letting me pass by - without a fawn nearby it would have long since bolted off.  Sorry, no pictures here.

But I did put out the trail camera to see if I could catch a picture.  I was not lucky enough to capture them, but, in the process, I did record two other critters I had never seen in that location before:  a skunk and a coyote:
Stripped Skunk

The coyote looks as though it may still be losing its winter coat, based on the thick gray fur on its rump.

Skunks have a widely varied diet, but one of their specialties is digging up turtle eggs that have been laid in the ground.  I saw this giant snapping turtle on the road just last week
Snapping Turtle

so maybe the skunk had a good feast on those eggs - I wouldn't complain about that!  I'm glad I didn't come across the skunk on my evening walk!

But now here's another well-defended animal that I did come across this week:

A porcupine!  I've seen them in trees, and in winter on the snow, but I've never seen one just walking along a trail.  It was waddling along in front of me, and when it detected my presence it stopped, turned sideways and looked at me as if to say "what are you doing here?"  

Needless to say, I didn't get any closer.  Porcupines seem to have this attitude of what-me-worry?, knowing that every animal in the forest - save the Fisher Cat - knows to keep its distance.  We know that domestic dogs have forgotten that lesson from their forebears and will come home with a face of quills, but other than that and the fisher, the porcupine just goes about its business.  It continued down the trail, stopping a few more times to check me out, and, eventually deciding it had enough, scurried the best it could off into thicker cover.  I was a little taken aback at just how large it was - it was my first encounter that close with a porcupine.

OK, I warned you, there is a lot of activity in the spring and early summer:  next up was an encounter with a beaver.  Walking along a trail some 50 yards from Lake Wicwas, I heard the report of a beaver alarm, warning of my presence with its tail.  Beaver aren't too dangerous, so I headed towards the lake to see if I could find it.  As I approached the shore, I saw it swimming down the shoreline, and watched it turn back, swim past, and repeat several more loops. 

Every few minutes it would slap its tail, making a loud ker-whack sound accompanied by a good size splash.
Beaver Alert

I wondered if it wanted to come up on shore to take a short-cut across the peninsula, and I was thwarting it.  Eventually it went off and swam all the way around....

The birds are active also.  I saw a Pileated Woodpecker fly by, stopping at every oak tree to climb up its trunk looking for insects.  We also saw two hawks, Broad Winged Hawks I believe.  First I saw a very large one, followed close behind by a much smaller bird.  At first I thought it was a crow harassing it, but as it came closer it was clear it was another hawk.  It had a wide, curved, and banded tail.  The two of them circled together for a minute before slowly drifting off to the south.  It looked like flying lessons being taught to junior by the professional!

The loons have perhaps not yet laid their eggs, but they are certainly searching out a good nesting site.  We saw them trying out a site at one location, while another loon watcher saw them the same day trying a different site.  Unless there are two pairs?  Very unlikely, and hasn't happened at Wicwas before, but you never know.  Time will tell.  If you see a loon close to shore, or acting strangely, keep away to not endanger its eggs.  It only takes a minute off the next for a predator to gobble up an egg.

OK, we're nearing the end.  Just one insect observation - the butterflys are back and plentful with the flowers out now.  I saw several White Admirals and a few Tiger Swallowtails. 
Tiger Swallowtail

The Tiger Swallowtail hibernates in its chrysalis in the cold New Hampshire winter, and in spring feeds on flower nectar before laying its eggs. 

This particular butterfly either has a defective right wing, or perhaps it hadn't fully pumped its wing to full size after emerging.  Either way, it didn't seem to affect its flight at all.

So that's what's been happening around Lake Wicwas the past week or so.  This coming week, most of the activity will be of the two-wheeled variety.  But remember, you never know who you'll meet around Lake Wicwas!

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