Sunday, December 13, 2015

December 13, 2015

It was rather gloomy around the lakes region this week with lots of humidity and plenty of continued warmth to go with it.  Fog was the notable climate condition, with this a common sight:
Fog envelops the conservation area behind Lake Wicwas

It has been, as the saying goes, good weather for ducks;  a few Mergansers appeared on the lake to prove the point.  It looks like a group of two males and one female.

One of the males appeared to be showing off.

Which seems to have worked, as the female selected him to sail off with into the mist.

Later in the week, when the sun did come out for moment, a lone female Hooded Merganser stopped by the lake to do some fishing on her way to her winter home.
Female Hooded Merganser

Both the male and female of this species are quite striking and always a treat to see.  The inland hunting season for ducks ends today;  I hope she made it - I heard gun shots this morning!

Although I didn't see much other wildlife - no owls this week - I did come across lots of their signs, showing I was on the right path.  Here are some of the signs the animals scattered around Lake Wicwas this week.

Coyote scat showing lots of fur

Coyote scat, two flavors, one rather large, and exhibiting somewhat different diets.
Large coyote scat with more vegetation

Next, scat from one of the coyote's winter prey, a white tail deer, and again two versions indicating the varied diet as the season changes from lush summer foliage to dry, winter forage.
Summer foliage produces soft, clumped scat
Dry winter feed produces the more recognizable deer droppings
More scat - this is from a bird - probably last week's Barred Owl, as it was not sprayed out over a long area as a hawk would do, but rather dropped straight down by an owl.

And finally, some small trees with their bark recently chewed by a porcupine fattening up in case winter ever arrives.
Porcupine teeth marks are horizontal (deer marks are larger and vertical)


You can find this if you walk on the lower-ledges section of the Red Trail in the Hamlin-Eames-Smyth conservation area.  But be warned, the heavy rains and wind have taken down some trees and re-routed some of the streams near the Maple Grove.
Tree down across the Red trail north of the maple grove
New stream route and erosion

Soon the trail crew will have it cleaned up.  This week they were working to clear out drainages along the Beaver Loop (Blue) trails.
Meredith Conservation Commission members ensuring the trails will drain this winter and next spring

Dave Anderson published a nice article titled "How to See More Wildlife" on the Society for the Protection of NH Forests website;  he gave permission to link it here.  Click here to see his suggestions for the next time you head out into the woods.

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