Sunday, September 6, 2015

September 6, 2015

Last week I commented on the large mats of Bladderwort in the lake.  It's not just Lake Wicwas, but many lakes are experiencing this phenomenon this summer.  Marge Thrope sent me an article on the subject written by Amy Smagula, NHDES Exotic Species Program Coordinator, in the Volunteer Lake Assessment Program newsletter (click here to read it).  Amy says aquatic plants have boom and bust years just like terrestrial plants, and 2015 is the bladderwort's time for glory. 

The autumn harvest and gathering has commenced in the Lakes Region;  an audible indicator is the annual pine cone drop which is now taking place in the pine groves around Lake Wicwas.  It's not the trees themselves dropping their cones, but rather these little rascals cutting them off the branches so they fall to the ground where they gather them up to store away for a cold winter day.

The originator of the term "squirreling away"
You hear it far off on a quiet morning, the cones bouncing off all the dead branches on its way from tree-top to forest floor.
The White Pine - Nature's pinball machine

It sounds like an old-time pinball machine where each branch rings up another 1000 points on the scoreboard.

This will be the source of those piles of pine cone shells that will appear on the snow this winter.
Midden Pile under a favorite lunch branch

(Sorry to use the "W" word - and to show snow.)

On August 16th this year I noted some of the berries around the area, including the Hobblebush viburnmum with its bright red fruit.  Now, three weeks later, those berries are turning black.

I find it interesting there aren't any berries that are part black and part red - it seems each berry changes color almost at once - maybe overnight?

I also showed evidence of bears eating berries of some sort, and this week I found signs of fox doing the same.

The berries in this scat look suspiciously like those viburnum berries, but that's just a guess.  You may have also noticed that this fox left its calling card right next to an antlion dwelling - that little cone in the sand where the antlion excavated its trap to catch unsuspecting ants - just like Sarlaac, the giant antlion in the Star Wars movie "Return of the Jedi".)

One more fruit bearing plant that is ripening at this time:  the Indian Cucumber.  The root of this plant is edible, but the berry is not.
At least not to humans -  I don't about animals.  If squirrels eat them, you can be sure this guy will be watching to make sure you don't steal its food if you lean down to take a look at it.

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