Sunday, October 2, 2016

October 2, 2016

The young deer I saw last week with its juvenile spots fading away isn't the only animal around the lake that is showing signs of change.  The loons are starting to molt, shedding their summer feathers and in the process losing their distinctive, sharp black and white summer attire.  Their heads seem to be the first to go, giving them a wise, gray-beard look.
Loons are starting to molt

By the time they head out to the Atlantic Ocean for the winter they will be drab gray all over - no need to impress the opposite sex if it's not mating season! 

I saw our resident pair out in the very middle of the lake grooming themselves;  it was a calm day and the lake was speckled with small feathers drifting gracefully along.  
The fine inner down that keeps them warm in cold waters was evident, and some of them left no doubt that they came from a loon.

 At one point I got a look at a foot in the air which showed two bands on it, one white and one silver. 

I thought it was not our resident pair, knowing the female has a green and a red-and-white band.  But John Cooley from the Loon Preservation Committee informed me that our loon has both legs banded, and this is in fact our female.  I had never seen her right leg before, but now we know:  green over red and white stripe on her left leg, and white over silver on her right.

There were a few other animals out on the lake enjoying the calm, warm summer day, including Canada Geese and this Painted Turtle relaxing on a rock in a sunny spot.
Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta)

Did you notice its shy friend poking its nose up from behind the rock?

The flora is much more flamboyant in displaying their autumnal changes than the animals - no need for them to be discreet.  Winterberry has matured into its bright red color which really stands out and will last well into winter - unless the birds eat them all first.
Winterberry (Ilex Verticillata)

The fruit on the Mapleleaf Viburnum is not so bright, but just as distinctive.
Mapleleaf Viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium)

This fruit, like the winterberry, is not considered edible, but is a food source for many birds as well as mammals. 

The foliage around the Lakes Region is still in the early stages of their change as seen from this view from the White Mountain Ledge in the Hamlin Conservation Area.
Even to the north there is little color in the trees

But many of the loners are already rebelling against summer, proclaiming their autumnal independence from the laws of photosynthesis.
A lone maple makes a rebellious statement in the Chemung Forest with Ladd Mountain watching from afar

  Change is everywhere around Lake Wicwas.

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