Sunday, August 25, 2013

August 25, 2013

The harvest season has begun at Lake Wicwas.  The squirrels, both red and gray, are the most obvious early reapers of summer's bounty.  I noticed the start a couple of weeks ago when green acorns started appearing on the ground.

And then last week the beechnuts started dropping from the trees.

Beech Nuts
They get lots of assistance from the squirrels, especially the gray squirrels it seems.  When you see branches swaying at the top of tree on a perfectly calm day, there's a good chance a squirrel is up there gathering some food it covets.  In the case of the beech trees, they seem to jump on the branches, shaking the nuts onto the ground.  On a quiet afternoon it can sound like rain coming down as all the small nuts fall on the ground around you at the base of large tree.

If you have a large Beech tree nearby, keep an eye out for signs of bear activity - beechnuts are one of their favorite foods. You may see scat in the area, or possibly claw marks where they climbed the tree.  There have been more bear sightings lately, so they are in the area.

The most interesting activity for me is the collection of pine cones from the white pines.  The squirrels chew the new cones - which still contain their seeds - off the branches and let them fall to the ground so they can store them for winter.  On a quiet morning in a pine forest one can hear the heavy cones sounding like a pinball machine as they bounce off multiple braches on their way down from of the top of the tree, landing with final crash on the forest floor.

Various mushroom and fungi are becoming numerous all around the lake.  This yellow fungus is one that stands our brightly against the mostly drab surroundings of dry leaves and pine needles.

If you've hiked the Blue Trail around the beaver ponds in the Hamlin area you've probably noticed a large muddy area that has developed in the trail as the water patterns changed in the past few years.  Well, recently the trail maintenance crew has added some large logs to form steps over the area - a welcome addition, especially in the spring.  But be careful - they'll be slippery!
If you hike past this brook, notice also the color of it, which indicates a lot of iron dissolved in the water.

Next week:  Labor Day weekend.  Where has the summer gone?

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