Sunday, December 14, 2014

December 14, 2014

A few more traces of snow this week provided a surface that left evidence of more animals traveling the hills and shores of Lake Wicwas - but no bears!

This seemingly distinctive bird track was left on our deck one morning (and no, it didn't find any bird feeders). 

My first thought was a crow even though we've never seen crows on the deck, but there are other birds that leave a similar track, including the Rock Dove.  But the size and shape are closer to a crow, so that's my best guess.

I had a couple of other bird sightings this week.  A pretty Pileated Woodpecker flew along beside me on a stretch of Chemung Road before it banked off into the forest.  And this morning I caught glimpse of an enormous bird flying over the lake.  It landed far away, high in the top of white pine.  It had the size and behavior of a bald eagle, but through the binoculars it clearly didn't have the right markings.  I concluded it was probably a Golden Eagle, and I have read about recent sightings of Goldens in the area.  After it had landed, a smaller - yet still good sized bird, probably a crow - was harassing it, diving at it in the tree.  With each pass the eagle stabbed at the diving bird with its massive beak, and seeing that weapon, the attacker never got very close.  The eagle was eating something, so I wonder if it had taken a meal from the crow.  It's also possible the crow was just trying to drive it from its territory.  Either way, the crow only made a few passes before it gave up and moved on.  I captured some poor pictures, but with the far distance it was the best I could do.  With better ice I would have tried to get a closer approach, but not yet.

Speaking of ice, the center of the lake hasn't made much progress in freezing over.  The temperatures continue in a narrow range - five or ten degrees below freezing over night, and five or ten degrees above freezing during the day, which isn't conducive to ice forming.

Most of the edges of the lake have been frozen for some time, but there are plenty of openings where the Otter can come up on shore for some play time.  There is quite a bit of traffic on particular otter trail,

and one of my wildlife spotters told me there were several otters playing on the snow down by the dam.  He saw them out playing in both the morning and the late afternoon, enjoying the warm weather while it lasts.  (Thanks Callum!)

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