Sunday, April 19, 2015

April 19, 2015

The ice has been creeping out of Lake Wicwas slowly and steadily - yesterday's wind really helped move things along.  I think by tomorrow morning I will be able to declare ice-out, but we'll have to wait until dawn to know.  Here's how things looked from the boat landing this evening at 4:15pm.
Almost Ice Free

Right in sync with the ice leaving, many animals are emerging and returning to the lake.  Today I heard the wonderful sound of a hundred Wood Frogs singing in a vernal pool, calling to their mate as spring brings thoughts of love. 

I also saw my first amphibian of the year, a tiny leopard frog in a wet spot right beside the lake, having just emerged from the mud down below the frost line.  And there are lots of birds on the lake now, both permanent summer residents such as the black ducks, as well as the transients on their way farther north - Mergansers and Buffleheads.  Some of these arrived when there were only small gaps in the ice, plowing through the ice and slush like a maritime ice-breaking ship.

This pair of Common Mergansers found enough open water to get their dinner before grooming - and resting - on a nice, warm, comfy patch of ice.

Common Mergansers

Cold feet anyone?

The next day a female Hooded Merganser came swimming by - no sign of a mate for her yet.
Female Hooded Merganser
And I saw my first loon on the lake just today - only one;  I don't know if it is half of our nesting pair or not.

Various mammals are out and about more as well.  The first beaver of the year swam by as soon as there was a significant gap around the edge of the lake, and the next day a muskrat cruised by.  I wonder if it was the muskrat that enjoyed snacking on all these clams.
Sign of a good feast

I saw deer tracks in the mud, and caught a Gray Fox and a Raccoon out prowling for food.  The raccoon could also have been the consumer of the clams - they are excellent swimmers and love all types of seafood.
Raccoon on the Prowl
Just 90 minutes later, so is the fox

Raccoons are also pretty vicious - if these two met up, it might be a good fight.  But with all the food sources around (raccoons like wood frogs too) at this time of year they would probably leave each other alone and go after the easy pickin's. 

Here's another sign that summer is coming - buds are swelling and turning red, here on blueberry bushes.

The winter of 2015 is finally setting on Lake Wicwas.

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