Saturday, January 5, 2013

January 6, 2013

Happy New Year! 

January brought the winter's first mass of cold air down from Canada, with temperatures on Thursday and Friday right around 0 degrees Fahrenheit.  It was enough to finally get Lake Wicwas frozen.  As late as January 1st  there was still a large open section of water in the middle of the lake.
January 1, 2013

It froze over that night, but as we saw in Rindge, the ice will be treacherous for a while - ice fishermen and snowmobilers take note!  The difference in the time of freezing is easily seen in the varying surface colors and textures.

The cold temperatures have kept the snow dry and light, which has made for great tracking;  it's enlightening to see just how much activity takes place around Lake Wicwas that we are never aware of.  There are fox tracks everywhere criss-crossing the woods looking for rodents.
Fox Tracks

Frequently one finds where a fox dug in the snow hunting for a mouse, or a left a marker for their territory.
Fox Hunting

I enjoy seeing them follow my ski tracks for long distances, knowing I made their travel a little easier;  you'd think they'd show a little courtesy in return!
Fox Scat in my Ski Trail

I saw a group of four good-size turkeys strutting down the road in the middle of the day.

Later, out on a walk we saw their tracks going back and forth across the road, up into the woods and back down looking for food.

They scratched in the road often, looking for acorns,

and scratched up large piles of leaves that were buried under the snowbanks, leaving quite a bit of evidence of their passing.

We also saw a set of deer prints, along with numerous squirrel, mice, weasel and otter tracks.  A hole in the ice along the shore was an active spot for an otter, with tracks, slides, and a latrine close by.

River Otter Signs
Entrance and Exit Holes
Otter Slide

I took a walk with my nephews up to the beaver dam in the Hamlin area, and found dramatic evidence of beaver activity - large areas cleared of trees, including some of the largest trees cut down I've seen.  There are several large red oaks that were cut most of the way through, but left standing.  Could they just be practicing, or wearing down their teeth for the winter?

Note the bark chewed off the felled tree in the background.  If you have a chance to get up there, poke around and take a look.

We also found some weasel tracks,
Long-Tailed Weasel Tracks

and large areas where the deer had dug around in the snow and leaves looking for acorns.  Look at the size of this area:

White Tail Hunting Grounds

Let's hope the weather stays cold so we can get out on the ice soon - the Meredith Fishing Derby is only five weeks away, and Meredith Bay is wide open.  A bit more snow would be nice also, to build up the base for skiing and snow shoeing.

Enjoy the winter of 2013, and keep warm!

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