Sunday, December 12, 2010

December 12, 2010

With just a dusting of snow Friday night, Lake Wicwas instantly transformed into its winter colors.  Sadly, with warm weather and rain on Sunday, it didn't last long.  

Pileated Woodpecker Hole in White Pine
But Saturday was a beautiful day.  Linda and I spent a long time watching a pileated woodpecker working on a dead birch tree, hacking out wood chips, and circulating around and up and down the trunk.  Nearby I found the results of it seeking an insect nest in its favorite tree, the white pine. 

A large pile of fresh wood chips, some as large as four inches long, are trademarks of the pileated. 

Pileated Woodpecker

I didn't get any pictures of the bird today, but here's one from last fall, investigating a stump right in our front yard.

Side Trotting Red Fox Tracks

The snow also brings on the best season for animal tracks.  The most common is the fox; this set of tracks along the edge of the lake is a red fox travelling in a “side-trotting” stride, where it does not direct-register, so the hind track falls ahead of the front track.  Here, the smaller, hind track is to the right and ahead of the front track.

On Saturday I took a long trip on the Arbutus Hill trail again, but even with the snow I saw no signs of wildlife.  I did find a very nice outlook near the summit of Arbutus Hill, looking east towards the Corliss Hill, with the Wicwas Lodge (Lakeland School) clearly visible.  Then, on the way home, right on Chemung Road where it passes between the lake and the swamp, an owl flew out of a tree right over me.  It flew low along the road with slow, silent wing beats until it arced to the right over the swamp towards lake Winnisquam.

View of Corliss Hill from Arbutus Hill

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