Thursday, August 20, 2015

August 23, 2015

Oh, the dog days of August are here - and I love it!  Hot, hazy, humid days;  calm, quiet, still afternoons;  peaceful nights with the sounds of nature in the air - the past couple of weeks have endowed us with  classic late-summer New Hampshire weather.  Perhaps you saw some shooting stars during the Perseid meteor shower on one of those warm nights.

The heat and humidity may not be appreciated by all creatures, but one group, the fungi, thrive in this kind of weather, marking a time when it becomes interesting to take a look at your feet as you walk the pathways around the lake where various fungi emerge from the soil.  One of the most recognizable is the Indian Pipe, a skinny white fungus that grows tall and obvious in many places.

A very different fungus is one that is wide, flat, and shiny - one I think is a member of the family known by names like Shelf Fungi, Bracket Fungi, or Artist Shelf.

It certainly would be a useful platform for an artist to place her paints as she works in the forest.

I'm not one to pick mushrooms from the forest floor to eat, but I do enjoy the tremendous variety of size, shape and color they contribute to the walk.  And if you do like to forage for mushrooms and want to learn more from one of the most notable experts, the Lakes Region Conservation Trust is sponsoring a Mushroom Walk with Rick Van de Poll in September.  While you're on the LRCT web site you may notice they are also sponsoring a guided paddle excursion - right on Lake Wicwas no less.  It happens this Tuesday, August 25th, and the details on how to register for the trip are on the same page.  I will be there!

Here are a few more samples I found during this simmering stretch of fungi-favorable weather.

Black and White:

Red and orange:

Hard and shiny:

And just emerging from under the ground clutter:

Meanwhile high above my head, an Osprey flew through the thick atmosphere;  I caught a quick picture as it went overhead.  Only after later exploding the picture did I discovered that it had been on a successful fishing expedition at the lake.

Then later, I found this splat on the forest floor.

It is most certainly a raptor expulsion of uric acid.  Hawks, owls, and other raptors expel their solid waste via the familiar pellets one occasionally finds on the ground, but they must excrete their liquid waste and uric acid in liquid form.  I don't know for sure this is from an osprey, but based on its location just a few feet from shore, I expect it's from an osprey sitting on a branch at the water's edge looking for an unsuspecting fish to swim underneath it.  The osprey love these hot, still days where they have a clear view down under the surface of the lake.

Another benefit of this clime if you're a warm water lover:  the lake temperature this week was 83 degrees at the surface!  And even one more perk:  rainbows as the afternoon showers blow over the lake.
Looking west over Lake Wicwas - Photo courtesy of Bill Thorpe

I do love these dog days of summer! 

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