Sunday, December 11, 2016

December 11, 2016 - Ice-in

Last week's bright wintergreen is now a memory, buried beneath the snow until spring - at least if the winter continues the way it is starting out.  On Monday we had a nice fluffy layer of fresh snow draped across the landscape.

Falling into the open water it provided ready-made ice which froze up over a good portion of the lake.

Then a strong wind a few days later blew much of it away, opening up the majority of the lake again.  Even with temperatures down into the teens, the wind kept the lake wide open as recently as Saturday.

No ice on the main body of Lake Wicwas on December 10
The wind does tend to splash water up near shore, creating interesting ice sculptures.
Rocks and branches coated in ice
But last night, with the wind abating and the air temperature dropping to 5 degrees, the lake did freeze over, with ice-in declared this morning, December 11.
Less than 24 hours later Mother Nature had put the lake to bed for the year

Every year the lake freezes up in a new manner.  This year the early ice in protected coves, followed by some moderate temperatures and sunny days created perfect circles in the ice with spider-cracks where water must have trickled off the surface, finding its way back into the lake.
Soon after sunrise

Later the same afternoon

Returning home from a Christmas shopping trip one afternoon I ambushed a rafter of turkeys that had discovered Linda's bird feeders.  They left quickly but calmly, and I was able to catch a quick picture of the last two as they strutted off into the woods.

They had been around long enough to thoroughly trample the areas around the feeders, leaving plenty of evidence - they are not a stealth bird, that's for sure.

Turkey prints are quite distinctive

Fresh, early snow is always great for seeing what animals have been out around the lake all year, often without any prior trace.  In addition to the turkey and the usual squirrels, this past week fox, coyote, rabbit (or hare), mice, deer, and otter all left their mark around the lake.  Here a rabbit and a mouse followed the same trail.

At this point an otter slid along on its belly right across the trail and down into the lake.
A River Otter belly-slide

All these tracks will soon be covered up, as more snow is forecast to arrive tonight.  It means there may be no skating on Lake Wicwas this year, but I'm starting to think:  snow shoes, cross country skis, and pretty sunrises.
A cold sunrise over Wicwas

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