Sunday, January 26, 2014

January 26, 2014

With all the cold weather, there hasn't been much activity around Lake Wicwas this week, including myself!  I did get in a ski today - I saw a few other ski tracks, filled in with the blowing snow from last light, and few fox tracks in the woods where it was a little more sheltered.  There was also evidence of lots of  mouse activity, running back and forth from spot to spot, probably carrying food home to its nest.  At least it shows there is still plenty of food around for the foxes and fisher cats.

Since I don't have any pictures to add from Lake Wicwas, I thought I'd post some incredible photographs taken by a friend from way back.  Those who have known me a long time will remember Lindsey Brown from our Concord, Mass days.  Lindsey is an accomplished wildlife photographer who has the skills to capture the most spectacular pictures.  Recently he has been along the New England seacoast observing birds of prey, and he has photographed some of the most beautiful Snowy Owls you'll ever see. 
Snowy Owl, Salisbury Beach, 18 January 2014;   with permission of Lindsey Brown

The Snowy Owl is mostly a native of Canada and the arctic, but in winter they will travel to the northern United States in search of food.  The Snowy is not the largest in size, but it is the most massive of our owls due to the weight of the thick feathers that protect it from the arctic temperatures.  They even have feathers to keep their legs and feet warm. 

(We think it's cold here!  Maybe that's why they are here now, just trying to find some "warm" weather.)

The Snowy Owl is diurnal, unlike most owls which hunt at night.  It prefers wide open country, which is why they are commonly found along the shore, but they also will hunt at farms and large fields.  They hunt from the ground, sitting at a location with good sight lines, and flying, sometimes running, to capture their prey.
Hampton Beach, 12 January, 2014;   Lindsey Brown

Their preferred food source is lemmings, of which a single animal may consume 1600 in one year.  Their population tends to fluctuate along with the Lemming population.  Along the New England coast, their diet may change to seabirds as well as mice, squirrels, and other small animals.

If anyone has ever seen one around the Lakes Region, I'd be interested to hear about it.

Lindsey - thank you for sharing!
"Stealth" - Lindsey Brown photo

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