Sunday, October 13, 2013

October 13, 2013

Today's post starts with a different lake, or rather, what used to be a lake.  We took a drive over to the Lake Sunapee area for a hike up Sunset Hill in the John Hay Forest in Newbury.  (The Saint Gaudens National Park would have been on the agenda, but our fearless leaders in Washington have shut it down with the rest of government.)  We also took a walk through the Philbrick-Cricenti Bog in New London.
Philbrick-Cricenti Bog
The Philbrick-Cricenti Bog is a floating "kettle hole bog" that was created when a giant piece of glacial ice formed a depression, and eventually a lake.  As recently as 150 years, there was open water where people fished.  Today, the lake is completely covered with a mat of moss and sedge grass, which is thick enough that you actually walk - on a board walk - on top of the floating bog.  There are warnings that if you step off the boardwalk you may fall through the mat and into the lake - there are claims of remains of cows and horses under the surface.

Trees such as Black Spruce and Tamarack are even growing on it now.
Black Spruce Growing on the Bog


I really couldn't appreciate that there really was a lake below us until we came to the "peek hole".  Here is a long pole that you pull up out of the lake - it is over 20 feet deep!  In many places the boardwark rocks and splashes as you travel over the floating walkway.
Proof there's a Lake Underneath

The bog supports many plants unique to this type of environment, including Pitcher Plant and Cranberry.

Pitcher Plant

It was a very interesting area, but also a little disconcerting to think what can happen to a lake over just a few generations.

Thankfully, back on Lake Wicwas, you can't walk on the lake yet!   (Although, as the temperature continues to drop, soon enough we'll be walking on Lake Wicwas on a different surface....)  And the foliage is fabulous.  The maples are bright orange and red, and the east facing hills seen from Crockett's ledge are brilliant yellow.

South from Crockett's Ledge
Maples Reveal their True Colors
It appears that the fall migration has begun as well, with my first sighting of a Wood Duck since spring.
Mr. Wood Duck
And Mrs. Wood Duck

This should be just the first of many interesting birds that will visit Lake Wicwas over the next two months for a rest and a meal on their way to their winter homes.

Now, I'll apologize in advance for this next sighting, but remember, I didn't invent this, I'm just an observer!  This mushroom is known as a Stinkhorn - it is a member of the genus Phallus, named for an obvious reason. 
Stinkhorn  (genus Phallus)

The common name of "Stinkhorn" comes from the fact they emit the most horrendous odor, which actually has a reason related to reproduction:  the stench attracts flies which land on the top of the mushroom which has the spores needed to reproduce.  The spores stick to the flies' feet and are transported to other locations when the fly moves on.  It was working quite well today.

These fungi grow from an egg-like object, most often in areas with dead wood on the ground; one can be seen here just protruding from the peridium. 

They grow to full size in only a few hours, and live but a couple of days, so they have to attract insects fast!  Scientists do not know the reason for their odd shape....

One more note:  the local animals continue to enjoy the bounty of the fall harvest,
A Chipmunk's Dinner Table is our Front Step

as we do too!
With Apples from Arbutus Hill!

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