Sunday, March 5, 2017

March 5, 2017

We were away from the lake for much of last week, visiting family and enjoying the sights of another winter playground.
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Impossibly blue skies behind Lodge Pole Pine and Aspen Trees
Colorado is beautiful but it doesn't have a monopoly on blue skies - this is from Ragged Mountain, right here in the Lakes Region, during our short spell of winter back in February:
New Hampshire has it's own bluebird days that rival anyone

Crazy cycles of weather have roiled the whole country the past couple of weeks;  in the Lakes Region  warm temperatures really took a bite out of the snow, but it also provided great opportunities to enjoy the outdoors.
Evidence of fun times on Lake Wicwas

Being away I don't have a lot to report on what happened around Lake Wicwas this week, but here are a few sights I found over the prior couple of weeks.
Woodpeckers working on a rotted stump near shore
An American Tree Sparrow dines in a light snow

A casualty of the winter's storms
A chick-a-dee grabs one last seed before the feeders come in to avoid the bears
Beavers doing more un-licensed logging - this time of pretty white birch

Back on January 1st when the bobcats came and took a couple of gray squirrels out of circulation I mentioned the squirrels would soon provide replacements with their first of two annual breeding cycles coming in late winter.  Well, I can't be sure this is mating behavior, but it sure looks like it:

It could be a couple of males chasing a female, or it could just be animals fighting over the food supply in the yard as their natural sources become depleted in late winter.  Either way, it's fun to watch, and the timing is about right for mating:  Gray squirrels usually give birth to a litter of 1 to 4 blind babies in March after a gestation period of 44 days.  [Ref:  New Hampshire Nature Notes, Hilbert R. Siegler, pg. 105]  Did you know that squirrels are considered a game animal in some states?  Hunting of gray squirrels was banned in New Hampshire between 1915 and 1935 but is now allowed from September 1st through December 31st.  [Ref: ibid]  I did find one small snack that some animal squirreled away in a little hidey-hole.

I wonder if the owner will ever come back to claim it.  Or if an oak tree will grow out of the middle of a Maple.  Now that would be something to ponder if one came across such a sight ten years from now.

It was cold at the end of the week, but we are into meteorological spring now, and one can feel it in the warmth of the sun, even on those crazy days in late February when the temperature hit 60 degrees. 
Not the usual lake surface for sunbathing
It won't be long now....

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