Sunday, July 31, 2011

July 31, 2011

There has been a little more activity around Lake Wicwas in the past week, including with the weather.  There were very strong thunderstorms earlier in the week, with large hail and high winds.  I discovered three trees blown down across the trail in just one half-mile section of trail.  Several inches of rain fell over the week, and the lake level is now back up to spring-like levels.

I encountered a lot of birds this week.  One morning, picking blueberries, I was annoying several birds, as well as a beaver who was slapping its tail at me.  Even when you know what that sound is, it is still startling when you hear that sudden ker-splash in a quiet morning.  Then the chick-a-dees were scolding me loudly from the tops of the bushes, as I was keeping them from their normal rounds of breakfast fruit.  And a few minutes later, I heard an unusual clicking sound I didn't recognize.  Looking for the source, I found it to be a blue jay that was also angry with me.  It was making a fast clicking sound, like baseball cards in bicycle spokes - a new one for me.  Finally it flew off , sounding its usual call.

We've had lots of humming birds this year frequenting the flowers on the deck, as well as the humming bird feeder. 
Ruby Throated Hummingbird

I also got a good look at a heron from the kayak before he took flight.
Great Blue Heron

The baby loon continues to grow rapidly; now it's about half the size of the parents.  I didn't get any good pictures this week though. 

Something I haven't heard all summer is an owl.  It's interesting to me how much one year is different from another.  Last year we heard owls almost every day, and this year, not a one. 

Finally, I caught this raccoon walking down the road late at night.  It's clear he had just come from the lake, as his legs and belly are still wet.
Plus, another beautiful summer sunset.

Friday, July 22, 2011

July 22, 2011

Lake Wicwas Heat Wave!  Today was the hottest day yet this summer, and in fact the hottest day in the past few years.  At our house it hit 100.6 degrees.  At least the humidity was little better today;  yesterday it was so humid (71 degree dew point) that at 10:00 last night is was still 87 degrees!

The temperatures change the patterns of wildlife as well as humans - there's not much life to be seen during the days.  But at about 10:30 at night, I heard a lot crashing out in the woods.  I listened for a while not knowing what was making the noise, but it was too dark to see anything.  Eventually curiosity got to me, and I turned on an outside light, expecting it to scare the creature away, but it continued to come closer.  A few minutes later a good size deer stepped out of the woods, unfazed by the light.  It then spent the next half hour or so crashing around in the woods beside the house - they certainly aren't quiet animals at night like they are during the day.
White Tail Deer
Unfortunately, the heat doesn't slow down the insects.  I think the deer flies this year are as bad as I've seen them.  The mayflies hatched out this week in the heat as well;  I found this one right after it had emerged from its shell.
Something else that likes the heat are the blueberries, at least the ones on the shoreline where they can keep their feet in the lake.  There's a great crop this year:  large, plump, and plentiful.  If you haven't gotten out yet to pick a cup for blueberry pancakes or muffins, now's the time.
Also, all the humidity in the air - especially high levels this year due the flood waters in the Midwest evaporating and blowing our way - has made for some more very nice sunsets.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

July 17, 2011

It looks like July of 2011 will go in the books as a great summer month at Lake Wicwas;  the beautiful weather keeps on coming.  Thankfully there has been enough rain in the thunderstorms to keep the lake level full.  It's only starting to go down a bit now.

All the animals are growing rapidly, including our new loon chick, although the parents are still watching out for it very carefully.  When a boat approaches at all closely, the adult still swims out to the opposite side of the boat from the chick and puts on a good display.  When one boat came into the cove, the parent put on a ridiculous porpoising show, lifting its body high out of the water, diving down forward, and repeating multiple times.  There's no way someone could ignore that show, which is just what they want!

I watched one parent and the chick for quite some time one morning this week.  They were fishing quietly until the parent saw a boat come into the cove,

 at which point the parent told the chick to keep its head down while it went out to do its job,
 which junior obeyed quite well.
 The adult put on its show,

and when the coast was clear, the parent returned, and junior said, look dad, I can do that too! 

Dad then spent the next few minutes giving a grooming lesson (I think junior saw me on the dock!),
 with junior following dad's every move.
Once they were clean and well fed, they headed out down the lake to see what mom was up to.

The water spiders are growing as well, as proven by the exoskeleton that was left on our dock.
Water Spider

And today, a heron flew off the shore - I just love how these prehistoric looking birds spread out their giant feathers to get enough lift to fly.  They also seem know know they get more lift if they fly low against the water until they pick up more air speed.  (Do you recognize anyone in the background?)
Great Blue Heron

Sunday, July 10, 2011

July 10, 2011

The inhabitants of Lake Wicwas were treated to another fabulous week of summer weather this week.  The weekend topped it off with two crystal clear, dry sunny days.  Friday night gave us a nice rain storm, but by dawn, it had cleared out and the sun was shining.  It was a bit breezy, which gave the sailors a nice weekend to enjoy.  Good news:  the new loon chick continues to do well!

On Thursday evening I had an opportunity to get a good look at the deer that has been around our house lately.  We had a good staring match for quite some time.  It was completely locked onto me, but content to remain frozen while I raised my camera for a few pictures. 
White-tailed Deer

It  was so still it didn't even chew the foliage it had in its teeth.  Only after I continued walking did it bound off into the woods, snorting its annoyance with me.

There are many water flowers blooming around the lake edges now, all visible from a kayak paddling along the shores.  The water lilies are particularly pretty early in the season when they are fresh, and before the bugs get to them.  There were quite a few  honey bees out over the water collecting nectar from them.
Fragrant Water Lily
The pickerelweed are also fresh, showing there bright yellows eyes on the top of their petals.
I also found quite  a few rose pagonia, which have become rather rare due to degradation of their habitat.  Having them on Lake Wicwas is another sign of how fortunate we are to have such a healthy ecosystem here.  
Rose Pagonia

We were also treated to a beautiful summer sunset to end a perfect day.

Monday, July 4, 2011

July 4, 2011

Lake Wicwas enjoyed a beautiful summer weekend for the Independence Day holiday, with just a bit of wet weather on Sunday.  Today was picture perfect, with lots of boating activity all over the lake.  Just about everyone was on the water except for the sailors, as there was very little wind.  We even had a sighting of the Lake Wicwas Steamboat out for a cruise.  All the activity keep the loons quite agitated - I expect they will be glad to have the busiest weekend of the year gone by.

There have been a lot of hawks around this year, which are great fun to watch.  But we also had a visit by a couple of turkey vultures, one of which flew so low we could barely get a picture of it.  They are tremendous birds with wing spans of six feet or more; very impressive when seen soaring directly over head.
Turkey Vulture

Sometimes though, the best place to see wildlife is right through the windshield of your car.  On Saturday evening, at 7:45pm, Dustin saw a black bear amble across the road in front of him as he was driving up Livingston Road just past Meredith Center.  And yesterday, I saw a deer bound across Marion Lane at about 5:30 pm.

No pictures of the large game, but here's a pretty flower blooming - I don't know how an Ohio Spiderwort made it to New Hampshire.
Ohio Spiderwort
We got to see the full flotilla of geese gathered together today - all 24of them.  Their appears to be five families:  two have three goslings, one has six, and the fourth only has one.  Plus there was family of three adults with them. Too bad they are so overwhelming - they really are pretty birds on their own.

By the way, Google Maps has an updated satellite image of Lake Wicwas, which was taken this spring, just before the ice came out of the lake.  You should take a look at it - the resolution is outstanding.  You can see the ice receding from the edges of the lake, and if you zoom in you can see snowmobile tracks, and even snowshoe tracks left on the melting ice.  Here's a link.  (You may have to click "satellite".)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

July 2, 2011

The loon chick has made it through its  most precarious first few days, even with lots of lake activity due to the great weather over this holiday weekend.  This evening the family came by again for an evening fishing trip, and the chick is already noticeably larger - its parents must be feeding it well. 

They seem to be giving it a little more space now, with the little guy hurrying along behind as fast as it can.  I'm surprised that both parents almost always dive together, leaving the chick alone on the surface - maybe they team up to scare their prey towards each other.

We saw them feed the chick a couple of small fish; each time a parent came up, the chick would hurry over to see if it had a meal.  It looked as though the adult injured one minnow, and then put it in the water next to the chick so it could learn how to grab it for itself. 

When one parent came up with a large fish, the chick wanted that one too, but no, this fish was kept by its owner. 

I had to put in this picture of a cormorant, taken early in the morning with the sun low on the bird - it shows its well-adapted feet, with webs for swimming, yet still able to grasp tree branches for roosting.

Friday, July 1, 2011

June 30, 2011

Lake Wicwas has a new resident:  a new baby loon!  One chick hatched some time over the last few days, but we first saw it today.  Linda took most of these pictures from the deck, as the new family spent most of the afternoon fishing in the cove.

Every now and then one of the parents would come up with a tiny fish in its mouth and feed it to the chick.
Bringing a fish

In the evening only one parent was babysitting, while the other must have been out getting some private time.  The chick would ride on the parent's back until the adult dove, leaving the chick looking very small and vulnerable, floating all alone in the middle of the lake until the parent popped back up.

The Proud New Parents:

I heard reports of two eggs on the nest;  I will post more information as I get it.  The last time we had a successful nesting on Lake Wicwas was in 2007 - that year there were two.