Sunday, October 6, 2013

October 6, 2013

The foliage at Lake Wicwas is just about peaking now.

The hues are rich as the leaves are still losing their green pigment, and the cloudy and wet weather intensifies the colors that are being revealed from beneath the chlorophyll. The maples are particularly vibrant right now.

Cloudy weather and no wind meant even the leaves that have bid farewell to their parent and fallen onto the lake make for intriguing sights, with these leaves apparently floating in air.

One of our local nature experts told me this weekend there is a Black Tupelo (also called Black Gum) tree on the shore of Lake Wicwas right in our cove.  I have read there are some old-growth Black Gum Trees in the Hamlin/Eames/Smyth area, but I have never found them.  So I went out today to look for this local specimen, and found it - in fact two - just where it was described.

Black Tupelo (Black Gum) - Nyssa sylvatica
Black Gum grow in wet areas, and these had their roots right in the lake.  It is a tree I have noticed many times, but had never identified it.  (In fact, if you look at the first photo in this post, you will see them!)  The Black Gum has uncommon leaves that are thick and glossy, and turn bright scarlet in the fall.

It also bears fruit which is consumed by many animals;  if this tree had fruit, it has already been enjoyed by the lakeside creatures.  I now have another tree I know; I'll have to go searching for the old ones up behind the lake (thanks RB!).

Regarding wildlife around the lake, I ran into several deer this weekend, and we were even treated to a Bald Eagle sighting.  It had landed right on the shoreline at a rock off one of the Islands.  (Sorry - too far away for pictures.)  It stood there for ten or more minutes, just resting, dunking its beak in the lake now and then for a drink.  I think it was enjoying the fall foliage, and providing entertainment for the Lake Wicwas Board meeting which was occurring at that moment.  It was a nice reminder of why we all work to protect this beautiful lake.

With a mild weather forecast for the next week, we should enjoy one more weekend of good leaf peeping for Columbus Day.

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