Sunday, April 10, 2016

April 10, 2016

I don't know how the word got out to the avian community, but Lake Wicwas has become the hot hook-up spot for ducks this spring.  This week there was a flock of 32 Ring-necked ducks cruising the lake like teenagers in their hot rods looking for dates. 

We counted six females in the group being courted by the males, a discouraging five to one ratio. 

The flock tended to separate into smaller groups, each one focused on a single female.  If a drake felt it wasn't making progress with the female in its platoon it moved on to another to try its luck with someone else. 
Quite the handsome escort

At one point I thought a whole group flew off, but then I saw that two ducks had remained. 
The two love-birds are on the left

Did the female finally make its selection, so the others left for more fertile ground?
Now they have the cove to themselves

We were treated to a touch of snow on this first week of April, just enough to leave a perfect canvas for animal tracks.  And as if to say thank you for stopping the proposed hunting and trapping, a bobcat walked right past the house that night, leaving a beautiful set of tracks in the snow.

The print below exhibits all the discriminating features of the bobcat paw print:
A faint circle around the print left was made by the cats fur

It is 2" long, almost perfectly round, and doesn't show claws (unlike canines, cats can retract their claws and usually do so when they walk).
Note the double lobes on the foot pad and graceful, round toes

A canine would surely show claw marks in this snow.  Also, note the boomerang shape in the foot pad behind the toes.  A fox would show a pyramid shape here.  Finally, the double-lobe pattern at the front of the pad print is another trait unique to the bobcat. 

I have only once taken a picture of a bobcat.
Photo from November 2010, taken in the same location as today's tracks
I followed the tracks for over mile, thinking as I walked how sad it would be to follow a bobcat trail only to come across one of these beautiful animals killed or suffering in a trap.

Another unusual find in the late snow was a set of beaver tracks, this where a beaver crossed from the mill brook below the dam on Lake Wicwas into the lake.

A dangerous crossing for a beaver
On the west side of the road was a perfect print of its feet, and a large flattened mark where its broad, smooth tail smacked down onto the ground. 

This is probably one of the critters that drive the town workers crazy by stuffing all manner of branches and grass into the dam trying to stop the flow!

The dusting of spring snow had the added benefit of bringing a bounty of gorgeous sights to the lake.
A white pine seedling collected its share of the snowfall

April morning after a snow

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