Sunday, February 24, 2013

February 24, 2013

Lake Wicwas has been enjoying a good weather pattern the last few weeks, with storms coming at least once a week.  Several have had nice snowfall, although there have been scattered days of warm weather which has reduced the base a bit.  This weekend another moderate storm came through, dropping 6 to 8 inches of snow from mid-day Saturday to Sunday evening, and it's still snowing lightly. 

This snow was a much heavier with a lot more water content which will have much more staying power and will provide a good base.  Hopefully this will permit the Laconia Dog Sled races to be held next weekend - they have been postponed twice.  Keep an eye on their website ( to see if they will be held on March 1-3 per the latest plan.

With calm winds the snow stuck to the trees providing a nice sweet frosting

and bowed down the pine branches.

It's February in the Lakes Region.

All winter we've been watching the red squirrels.  They must have had a good summer, as there is a very healthy population;  yesterday there were six of them out sharing the yard.  They build pathways and tunnels under the snow so they can travel safely as they search for dropped seeds.  It's fun to watch them disappear under the snow then pop up a few yards away. 

They also spend a lot time scanning the horizon for predators, making sure the coast is clear before they eat.

Looking for Trouble

Snack Time!

And this is why:
Cooper's Hawk

Today a Cooper's Hawk flew down to see if it could catch one of these tasty morsels for its lunch.  It landed under the deck right next to one of the tunnel networks and sat motionless, waiting.

Of course, there were no birds or squirrels to be seen for a while.  But eventually one of them popped up out of hole, not seeing the raptor with its great camouflage - undoubtedly that's why the hawk landed under the deck where there was no snow.  But this bird was impatient, and went after the squirrel before it traveled two feet from the hole, and it easily scampered back under the snow, leaving the hungry bird to review its tactics.
A missed Opportunity

The hawk realized it had lost its opportunity of surprise and soon flew off for other hunting grounds. 

So life goes on in winter at Lake Wicwas.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

February 10, 2013

Well now it's looking like winter around here.  The blizzard of 2013 was kind to Lake Wicwas.  It gifted us with about 15 inches of beautiful, fluffy powder, yet even with the strong winds there weren't any significant power outages - both results of the cold temperatures which kept the snow light and not sticking to the trees.  But the wind sure did blow the snow around.  Here's the view looking out the door on Saturday morning.

Callum and I took a snowshoe excursion as the snow was winding down, but not the wind - we were well prepared with warm clothes and goggles.  In the woods the wind wasn't too bad, but out on the lake it was pretty wild.

Back to reality, the work started.

Sometimes it seemed pretty futile,

But Callum was a great help!

And the wind created impressive sculptures.

By late afternoon the sun was breaking through, allowing the late sun to illuminate the pristine snow with a pink glow.

Followed by a brilliant winter sunset.

The storm stole the headlines from what was supposed to be the event of the weekend:  The Great Meredith Rotary Ice Fishing Derby.  Some hearty soles braved the weather on Saturday, but not us - we waited until Sunday, which brought a beautiful post-Nor'Easter New Hampshire day.  Temperatures were near thirty degrees, the wind was calm, and the sky was clear and blue.  Meredith Bay had turned from a hockey town to a good size village on the lake.
Winter  Village on the Ice  (Compare this picture to last week!)

There were bob houses of all sizes, from the elegant and well landscaped,

to the austere (but with a nice front door),

to the large, peaceful, and comfortable - complete with two stories.

We were there around noon time, so there weren't a lot of fish on the board yet, but I'm sure it filled up by the end of the day.  The largest at the time was a 3.8 pound pickerel;  yesterday there was a six pound lake trout.  As a note, all the fish are taken to the Squam Lakes Science Center where they are used to feed the animals there.

Late morning on the Leader Board

There's nothing like a bluebird sky after after a winter storm.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

February 3, 2013

Winter fun on frozen water!

The big event in Meredith this weekend was the New England Pond Hockey Classic.  This annual tournament includes 200 teams from every New England state, as well as teams from as far away as Canada, Washington DC - even Florida - and the weather was just about perfect for them.  The frigid weather of the prior week was broken with a 50 degree heat wave and heavy rain on Wednesday.  But just in time the cold weather returned, and the ice conditions on Meredith Bay were beautiful.  We visited the event on Saturday, and it was quite the scene.
2013 New England Pond Hockey Classic on Meredith Bay

20 hockey rinks back to back, with games in progress on each one,

Just of few of the 20 Rinks

except when the sweepers were out clearing a rink that had built up too many shavings.
Clearing the Ice between Games

There were people everywhere, some walking, some on skates;  food of all types being served for players and spectators, and of course, a beer tent (this is hockey after all).

There were cars and trucks and ATVs on the ice.
Back Side of the Food Court

A Plethora of Emergency Vehicles were on Hand

Even a helicopter made the show.
Close Air Support

It was definitely worth going down to see the all the action.  And the bay will be just as busy next weekend, as the ice rinks are taken over by fishermen for the Great Ice Fishing Derby - be sure to check that out if you're in the area.

Over at Lake Wicwas, the ice surface isn't quite as good, as there was snow cover on the lake before the warm weather and rain.  But the snow did saturate sufficiently that one can skate all over the lake, with large glass-smooth sections followed by some careful gliding over the bumpy spots in between. 
A Rare Skating Opportunity in February

A check on the ice thickness showed 12 inches - less than usual at this time of the year.

There was no hockey on Lake Wicwas, but the ice fishing is picking up.  There are half a dozen bob houses on the lake, with a small community growing between Bryant Island and Sheep Island, as well as in other locations on the lake.

Fishing Community between Bryant and Sheep Island

Not to be outdone by Lake Winnipesaukee, Lake Wicwas had its own air force this weekend, with an airplane bringing much needed supplies to the fishermen (more beer?).
The Wicwas Air Force

All this excitement and the derby is still a week away - I expect even more activity then.

And then there was this action taking place today:  Motorcycle Ice Racing!
Motorcycle Ice Racing on Wicwas!

A gang (that was the term they used!) set up a good size oval track right in front of the boat landing and was having a grand time. 

Their bikes are set up with some serious steel studs screwed into their tires.

After a few laps the course had to be scraped

before the next round could begin.

Here's a short video of the action.

There's no reason to be bored in New Hampshire in the winter!

I'll close with some quieter scenes that Jack Frost left on the windows this morning.