Sunday, May 11, 2014

May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day!  Mother nature gave her best today, providing all mothers with a fabulous day at Lake Wicwas - warm and sunny with a deep blue sky reflecting off the water.

The warmer weather has brought along the trees, as more buds are swelling and starting to pop.  The Red Maples are the first to have pushed out early, tiny leaves.
May 9th

And then just two days later, they are already exhibiting the familiar structure of the maple leaf.
May 11th
The Sweet White Violet is blooming in the sunniest locations and the Canada Mayflower and some ferns have sprouted, adding some green to the otherwise brown and drab forest floor.  .

The lake is still high, and the outlet flowing rapidly;  the streams emptying into the lake are full and wide.  The high sun and open canopy allows more light to penetrate than during any other season, which aids in warming the ground, fostering the growth of the new plants.

And my now good-friend, the garter snake was out enjoying the sun again as well.

Watching the surface of lake I noticed little wakes being made by small animals, thinking at first it was a snake, but soon realizing there too many of them and their travel pattern wasn't consistent with a Water Snake.  So I took my first kayak trip of the year to investigate.  They were made by an insect about half an inch long, which I think is the Water Boatmen.  I couldn't get a picture but here's a photograph of a Water Boatmen from the North Carolina State University web site.
Water Boatmen (NCSU photo)

Continuing along the shore of the lake, taking advantage of the high water and lack of pond weeds, I saw many turtles sunning themselves wherever a spot providing good exposure.  This log had six or eight turtles all lined up it, which I didn't notice until I heard them splooch, splooch, splooch, one after another into the lake.

Soon their scout came back up to see if the coast was clear.
Painted Turtle

I identified a new shoreline plant that is blooming around Lake Wicwas.  This is known as bothLeatherleaf and Cassandra, and is an evergreen member of the Heath family.  It is responsible for much of the deep red and maroon color that appears all along the shore of the lake in the late fall when its foliage turns.
Leatherleaf or Cassandra (Chamaedaphne calyclata)
Meanwhile, at the bottom of the lake, plant growth is starting as well;  in the shallows I could see the pond lilies putting out leaves that will soon rise to the surface.

Pond Lilies Sprouting from the Lake Bottom

The flycatchers and song birds are arriving in large numbers now;  I watched a group of them doing acrobatics as they feasted on bugs over the water, and the raspy call of the Phoebe is heard frequently.

Last night I captured a picture of a fox;  it still had its bushy winter coat on.
Gray Fox

I suppose it is still cold in their den, and with nighttime hunting, a warm coat is in order for a little bit longer. 

Back up at lake level I came upon the male Wood Duck in the cove near its nesting site.  No sign of mom - she's at home working at the nest.  I'm sure dad is out finding her something special to bring her for a mother's day treat!
Wood Duck

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