Sunday, April 3, 2016

April 3, 2016

The New England roller coaster of weather continues unabated.  April first fooled us with a beautiful 70 degree day, only to have the temperature drop by 40 degrees (Apr 4 update:  make that 55 degrees - it was 16 overnight on Sunday) and usher in 40 mph winds and snow squalls today.  But when it was warm, the sights and sounds of spring were all around.

A few bulbs were blooming in the warmer spots.


Tiny lichen were starting to come to life among the greening moss,
"British Soldiers" lichen (Cladonia cristatella) are only about half an inch high
and mussel shells are appearing on the shore line, left by raccoons, or perhaps muskrats.
Crustacean shells left over from a fresh seafood dinner

And on Friday, the first amphibians made their presence known as the Wood Frogs emerged from their winter slumber to call for mates in the thawed vernal pools.  Every year I am fooled (it was April first after all) by their call - I still think there are ducks ahead as I approach.  But each year I realize a little more quickly, that no, these are the frogs!
video

Other sounds of spring were unmistakable, for one the raspy call of the first phoebe of the summer - always the first of the insect-catching birds to return, but also a warning that the bugs are close behind.

Yesterday I saw my first pair of Great Blue Heron, landing awkwardly in the top of a towering white pine on a small island in the lake.  And earlier in the week I saw a large flock of Turkey Vultures - at least 20 of them - flying right over downtown Laconia just past Opechee Bay.  The next day there were three of them circling over Lake Wicwas.
A couple of Turkey Vultures circle overhead


Just when I though the migratory birds had moved past, another flock of ring-necked ducks stopped by, this time a pair as well as two males accompanying a female, hoping to win her favor.
Male ringed-neck ducks wooing a prospective mate
Hmmm,  how do I choose....

There was also a pair of Buffleheads - which I don't see very often - napping on the lake.
Buffleheads getting some needed rest on their voyage north

And one more sign of spring, summer even:  our first thunderstorm.  It was followed by a beautiful calm evening with mist flowing over the lake and then, the summer's first rainbow.   April-fools or not, summer is getting closer.
The summer's first rainbow

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