Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day 2016

Memorial Day brings a time to give thanks for all we have in this country;  it is so easy to forget the sacrifices so many have made for us.  This grave of two revolutionary war veterans is barely visible from Chemung Road, but is well maintained.
From Chemung Road
Grave of Jonathan Leathers and Hilliard Shaw

The hot weather this week set the stage for quiet early-morning paddles on Lake Wicwas.  On two occasions I watched Baltimore Orioles enjoying the fruits of spring on Sheep Island. 
Baltimore Oriole (female)

Get a grip on life

They were hopping from branch to branch, plucking off delectable, energy-rich insects from the pine trees. 
Where is it hiding?

There it is
This a synergistic service, removing damaging pests from trees while nourishing themselves, keeping nature in balance.  Orioles are known predators of tent caterpillars, and this seems to be big year for those unsightly insects.
Tent caterpillar nest in a denuded tree
They look like easy prey once they get out of the tent.
Caterpillar mass after they outgrew the nest

Tent caterpillars may completely defoliate a tree, but unless it is otherwise stressed, the tree will usually sprout new leaves and survive.  I've seen a scarlet tanager frequent the vernal pool where this nest is located.  Many other animals feed on these caterpillars as well, as unlike the non-indigenous gypsy moth, tent caterpillars are native to New England.  A Michigan study by the Conservation Resource Alliance found that on average, one bear eats 25,000 caterpillars in a single day!   (They determined this by sifting through their scat - how's that for a job?)

If any nests are built over the lake, and a caterpillar should fall onto the water, these guys would be sure to gobble it up!  (This one's for you, GameFisher316!)
Largemouth Bass on their nest in shallow water (location not disclosed!)

After depositing her eggs, the female bass will depart, possibly placing more eggs in another nest with another male;  this increases the odds of passing on her genes.  The male will stay at the nest to guard the eggs and protect the minnows when they hatch.  At least until he gets hungry - then he will likely eat plenty of his own young.  [Ref:  William K. Johnke, Dorbil Publishing Co, 1995]

If you were out around the lake this weekend you probably saw lots of flowers:  lilac, cherry, jack-in-the-pulpit, and everyone's favorite, lady's slippers.

Now an update on the loons:  they still appear to be in search of the perfect nesting site, as the pair remains together, out fishing and doing home inspections.  Early Saturday morning one popped up near me to say good morning.

And there is good news and reason for optimism:  on Pleasant Lake, 30 miles southwest of Wicwas, the loons have re-nested after abandoning their first nest due to eagle harassment.
Pleasant Lake loon on their custom-built floating raft.  Photograph by Kittie Wilson

Finally, Meredith Center held a Memorial Day service at Oakland Cemetery today to once again remember, on this Memorial Day, all those that served and sacrificed to secure our safety and freedom. 

Thank you.  We remember.

No comments:

Post a Comment