Sunday, February 12, 2017

February 12, 2017

The February full moon is known as the Snow Moon, and this month it is being true to its name.  We seem to have escaped the ugly pattern of freezing rain after every storm, and have been getting storms with light, dry snow, ending with cold and windy weather. 
The Snow Moon rises over Lake Wicwas

One of the perks of a good winter is being able to explore areas that are simply out-of-bounds in the summer.  You may recall that the 2016 Lake Wicwas Paddle Regatta brought us to the beaver dam on Blake Brook, one of the two main tributaries that replenish Lake Wicwas. 
Blake Brook and the beaver dam in a slightly warmer season

Well, the cold temperatures have frozen Blake Brook sufficiently to brave traveling up the brook to the beaver dam, though I still kept away from the higher-current areas as water does flow out from the dam all winter.  But once at the dam I was able to climb up over the dam and explore the beaver pond impounded behind it, and found that I wasn't the only one enjoying the fresh snow:  there were otter tracks running all over the pond.
River Otter tracks on the Blake Brook beaver dam

The otters had run up and down the pathways between the rushes, bounding a step or two, then sliding along on their bellies.

These have to be the most playful, fun-loving creatures on the lake.  Did you happen to see the Smithsonian article about the prehistoric ancestors of our river otters?  They weren't quite as cute as our current version.

The squirrels also appear to be playing in the snow, but in reality they are searching diligently for food buried under the latest covering of snow.

Even though they tunnel under the snow in search of sustenance, they come up often to look out for danger.  And they better, as the bobcat was back again yesterday, lurking along beside the house, ready to ambush the squirrels at the bird feeder.  But this time it got spooked it before it nabbed its breakfast - and before I got a picture.

Of course a bobcat would be happy to catch a careless bird on the ground, or maybe this nice fat woodpecker on a feeder. 
A downy woodpecker with its feathers ruffled (by the wind)

I'm pretty sure a bobcat would have no trouble leaping up to a low feeder if a distracted bird didn't see it coming.

The humans were out enjoying the snow and the frozen lake too.  One group had quite a party down near the boat ramp last weekend, complete with music, bonfires, skating, and ATV-pulled sled rides for the kids.

And another family has built a pretty impressive fortress on the ice, including a sentry to watch guard over it while they are away.

Finally, I know I'm in a special place when I'm looking skywards (because I'm raking snow off the roof!) and a bald eagle flies through my line of sight, soaring majestically right over the house, it's white head and tail glowing golden yellow in the late afternoon sun, contrasted against an azure blue sky.  I bring a camera on most adventures, but not to shovel the roof, so you'll have to paint that picture in your mind.  It was one of those moments when I stop what I'm doing and just reflect on the world we've been given.

More snow is in the air today, perhaps the biggest storm yet this winter.  The Snow Moon is working it magic!

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