Sunday, November 27, 2011

November 27, 2011

Bald Eagle

A fantastic sighting of a Bald Eagle was caught this week at Lake Wicwas!   A resident of Chemung road took this picture and gave this account: 

Taken on a walk 11/26/11 on Chemung road, just past where snow machines cross Chemung road on the south side of the road. Someone threw a turkey breast down over the 'edge-of-road' bank. Crows were picking at it which drew attention and he looked up to see this LARGE bald eagle watching....  The eagle left and we waited and we spotted a turkey vulture in a tree in the swamp.

It's fantastic to have so many nature watchers around the lake!  Thanks for sharing.  (If the photographer gives permission, I'll credit you with the photo - leave a comment or send me an email at

Sunday, November 20, 2011

November 20, 2011

Yesterday morning around 8:00 I was treated to an amazing experience:  A family of four River Otters taking a tour of Lake Wicwas.  I first noticed some ripples emanating from the shore, but they were larger and more numerous than the ducks usually make along the shoreline.  Looking for the source though, I saw nothing.  Then a head poked up out of the lake about 25 yards from the shore, and I assumed it was a beaver even though they don't usually dive, but rather swim on the surface.  But suddenly three other heads appeared, started romping around with the first, and it was clear they were otters.
River Otters

The four of them then proceeded to swim across the cove, diving for a stretch, then surfacing again to play.  They would raise their heads high above the water to look around, and then lunge at one another, diving up and down with their backs arched as they dove, and their long, tapered tails following along behind.

Otters seem to be the polar opposite of beavers.  Beavers are very focused on their work, always swimming purposely in a straight line, knowing exactly where they intend to go.  Otters on the other hand are very playful, spending a lot time just seeming to enjoy themselves.  Maybe it's the difference between being an herbivore where one must store up a whole winter's worth of food when it's available, versus being a carnivore, where fish are available year 'round.  Otters are extrememly capable fishers, leaving them lots of time to play.

I was too mesmerized watching through binoculars to pick up the camera until they were almost around the point.  One of them started to run up on terre firma, but then came back down and they all disappeared around the corner into the next cove to continue their morning escapades.

Otters often have four offspring, so it's possible they were siblings - I don't know if parents stay with their mom this long into the season or not.  It was another of those wonderful nature moments we are so fortunate to be able to experience in this unique habitat. 
We also had the first sighting of northern birds migrating south through New Hampshire, with a pair of hooded mergansers stopping by Lake Wicwas for a rest and a food stop.
Hooded Merganser
Other than that one pair or mergansers, we saw two pairs of mallards.  Also, the forest birds were more visible, with chick-a-dees, nut hatches and woodpeckers more active than in recent weeks.

We again found more fresh beaver cuts near the lake, including one witch hazel tree which was cut so recently that its sap was still flowing.  Closer inspection revealed a swarm of small flying insects feasting on the readily-available source of high-sugar content fluid.  I have no idea what species of insect it is, but they appear to be vegetarians, which is good by me!
Insects Feeding on Fresh Beaver Stump

This afternoon we checked on the status of the work at Child's Park, and found the building fully enclosed, the water fountains installed, and the playground being constructed! 
 The playground is really neat, with good sturdy structures representing key landmarks of Meredith Center:  The Meredith Center Fire Station and the Meredith Center Store.  The kids will love it!
Child's Park's New Playground

Sunday, November 13, 2011

November 13, 2011

We were away last week, enjoying some lovely southern hospitality in South Carolina.  The mountains and the lakes in the western part of the state create an environment much different from the low country one usually envisions when thinking of South Carolina;  It looks a lot like New Hampshire. 
Lake Jocassee, South Carolina

The trees still had beautiful color, but it's starting to reach the end even there.  
Lake Keowee, South Carolina

Back in New Hampshire, we found November had arrived at Lake Wicwas, but at least the snow was gone!  All but the resolute oak trees have disbursed their leaves, and many of those oaks will hang onto them right into spring.
Many of those leaves are gathering at the edges of the lake, while others have already sunk to the bottom, preparing another layer of organic material for the animals that live in and on the mud at the bottom of Lake Wicwas.
I didn't see any deer around this week, though I heard a few single reports from rifles, as deer hunting season is in full swing now.  There are still lots of water fowl on the lake;  there was another constant stream of ducks swimming by the shore, including this group of mallards.
They spent a long time dabbling in the leaves at the bottom of the lake, with sometimes four or five DA's pointing skyward at the same time.
And our newest loon is still hanging around.  It is now diving like an adult, staying underwater for long periods of time and surfacing sometimes 75 or 100 yards from where it dove.  It continues to grow larger, so I guess its parents taught it well.  It now has a bright white chest, but still gray plumage elsewhere.

Lake Wicwas' Maturing Loon

The native Americans called the November moon the "Trading Moon" - seeing the moon set behind bare branches for the first time in seven months is another sign that winter is rapidly approaching.
Trading Moon