Sunday, November 17, 2013

November 17, 2013

I was hoping to get one more voyage out on Lake Wicwas before it got too cold, and Saturday provided what might my final excursion.  It was one of those rare November days where everything lined up - it was warm, sunny, and dead calm.  There wasn't another soul out on the lake, and with nothing to disturb the surface the entire lake was a giant mirror. 
A Mirror on Lake Wicwas

I don't think I've ever seen it quite that calm.  I never realized how one tiny kayak can perturb the surface of a lake;  just getting into the boat sent ripples that could be seen far across the cove.  Pictures needed to be taken ahead of the boat - and quickly - to avoid rippling the surface.
Which way is up?

The lake level is quite low, about 7 inches down, and the difference between the high water and the low water mark is conspicuous. It is also rather odoriferous as you approach the shoreline in many areas, with muddy, swampy areas now exposed to the air. 

It was a rather lonely trip, as I didn't encounter much wildlife along the way.  No ducks, heron, eagles, or hawks.  I did hear a couple of geese, and saw a flock of ducks flying overhead.  The osprey are long gone, and there was no sign of the loons either, so they may have headed off to their winter homes as well. 

Fortunately, I did have one welcome visitor who accompanied me on the trip, starting just north of Bryant Island:
River Otter

An otter!  It was floating perfectly still watching me, and as I came closer it dove and surfaced again another 30 yards off my bow.  It continued doing this, leading my trip around the island until we came to the marsh south of Bryant where it disappeared.  Every time it came up it stared right at me;  it clearly knew I was something to keep an eye on. 
Love those whiskers!

It was fun to watch, and to listen - I heard my first otter sounds!  Several times when it came up it kind of snorted, perhaps telling me to go away so it could have the lake back all to itself.

Even though I was out in the late afternoon when the air temperature was 50 degrees, I found ice in some sheltered coves,still hanging on from the night before;  so the water temperature is getting down close to freezing.  Certainly the calm, clear night helped the freeze.
Ice on a 50 Degree Day at 4:00

With the colder weather we were brave enough to put out the bird feeder.  The very next morning we had a full complement of feathered visitors:  chick-a-dees, nuthatches, woodpeckers, finches.  It doesn't take them long to find a new food supply.  And it brought another clear sign of winter:  goldfinches that are no longer gold!
Goldfinch in its Winter Jacket

I very much enjoyed what might have been my last excursion on a liquid Lake Wicwas until 2014;  my next journey might be ambulatory!

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