Thursday, July 5, 2012

July 5, 2012

Independence Day yesterday, and it was quite a day.  From a rainy start, to an absolutely beautiful day, to a violent summer thunderstorm, this July fourth had it all.

Independence Day!
Celebrations and Bar-B-Ques and enjoying the lake were the themes of the day.

In the evening, prior to man-made fireworks, nature provided her own firworks with a very impressive lightning display that was immediately followed by high winds and torrential downpours - three quarters of an inch of rain in maybe fifteen minutes.  The storm left wires and trees down, and much of the lake without power.  There was a wire down across Meredith Center road, and several trees blown down around the lake, including this oak and cluster of maples that pulled up a good chunk of shore line. 

Storm Blow-Down

After the storm the temperature dropped and the humidity went up, making for a misty morning today with sunbeams shining through the forest.

I looked up a couple of creatures I found around the lake this week, including the real name of these insects we call "mosquito eaters":  Large Crane Fly (Family Tipulidae).  There are 10,000 individual species in this family.
Large Crane Flies

The female has a larger abdomen than the male, as it is full of eggs;  it also has a pointed tail as seen on the female on the right.

And of course, they don't eat mosquitoes, although some species, when they are in the larval stage, will eat mosquito larvae, so they're a good insect.  They look a bit scary, but are harmless and don't bite or sting.   They are an important food source for birds, amphibians and reptiles, keeping the widlife round Lake Wicwas well fed, so when one sneaks into your house, shoo it safely out the door!

One of their predators might bt this little toad - a Fowler's Toad, I believe.
Fowler's Toad
A Crane Fly might look like a big meal for this little guy, but I'm sure it could manage.  The Fowler's Toad, a race of the Woodhouse's Toad, is named after Samuel Fowler who founded the Natural History Department at the Essex Institute om Salem Mass.  Fowler discovered it in 1843 [].

A couple of butterflies - Duskywings I think - were enjoying the nectar in Linda's bright blue flowers for their meal.  They in turn may become some other animal's dinner.

I have also seen deer around lately, though no fawns.  There are lots of signs of their browsing as well.  These poor trees are really having a tough time;  first the beaver cut them down, and when they tried to put out some stump shoots to survive, the deer coae along and stripped the stalks of their leaves.

All they left is bare, chomped-off shoots.
Deer Browse

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