Sunday, July 23, 2017

July 23, 2017 - Lightning Strikes

Meredith and much of the Lakes Region was treated to a dramatic electrical storm on Monday night.  There were thunderous lightning strikes, sometimes two or three in quick succession, and almost two inches of rain fell in an hour or two.  Harry Clymer sent me a chart showing the areas where lightning struck, which indicates three hit around Lake Wicwas, though Meredith Village really won the jackpot.

Somehow Debby Crowley was able to capture this incredible picture of a bolt that appears to have struck the surface of the lake south of Bryant Island.
Lightning over Wicwas - photo by Deborah Crowley
Thank you Ken and Debby for sharing that!  Fortunately there was no reported damage and I'm not aware of any significant power outages.  I looked for signs of strikes around the lake but didn't find anything.

The lack of rain lately has let the earth dry out a bit, but given such torrents of rain, most still ran off into the streams and lakes, and Lake Wicwas immediately rose four or five inches.  A quick check of the loon nest showed that their kingdom had become smaller, but it was still intact.
Its world looks a little smaller today
Like a dog, on a hot day a loon will cool itself by breathing with its mouth open.  The cool water below will help cool the egg while the parent protects it from the mid-day sun.  The parent may take a quick dip if needed before being spelled by its mate, but it won't be off the nest for long lest the egg cook in the hot sun.

Neil Crimins had observed on Sunday that the loons were augmenting their little island, dredging up mud and debris to build up the land.  It's fun to think they knew a storm was coming and were preparing for it, but more likely the island had been eroded by waves over the busy, beautiful weekend and they were just doing some restoration.

I continue to watch this year's premium crop of Black Cherries, and this week they are starting to ripen - perhaps two weeks behind the blueberries.

I hope to be able to determine who consumes them in the coming week or two.  Certainly birds will get many of them, but I expect the neighborhood bear will also get his or her fill.  I know it's still around, as it made a return visit to the yard to take out our second bird house.
The scene of the crime
It takes a big bear to bend that heavy steel stake
At this point, we have decided to post the houses "No Trespassing - Crime Scene" and board up the doors.  Not that their nests elsewhere are necessarily safe from predators, but we don't want to attract bears to human areas, and at least we won't feel complicit in crimes they commit elsewhere!

And just to make sure there's no doubt, one morning this week I came almost face to face with Mr. Black Bear.  I heard crunching the woods ahead of me on an early morning walk, and assumed it was a deer since I was in an area where I frequently come across deer at that time of day.  So I raised the camera hoping to get a picture in the dim light.  But instead of a deer poking its curious head out, it was a tremendous black bear.

Bears have poor eyesight, but stupendous sense of smell and excellent hearing.  One click of the camera and even at that distance it heard the shutter and looked right at me.

For all of two seconds - then it turned tail and bolted off into the woods.  It stopped not too far away, maybe 50 yards, but a couple of loud shouts and it was off and running far up and over a hill.  It must not have been a mother with cubs or it would have collected its cubs before it ran so I felt safe, but nonetheless decided to continue my walk in the opposite direction.

I've had this experience before - upon a bear hearing or smelling me it runs away a few yards, then stops and looks back as if to make sure it really needs to alter its planned route for the day, then decides, yup, it's time to go and disappears off into the forest.

As the ruckus caused by the bear dissipated, the tranquility of early morning returned, the rising sun bathing the world in soft, silken light, revealing, as it always does, a bounty of beautiful scenes.
The mushrooms love this weather  (Fly Amanita)

A yellow-bellied sapsucker soaks up the morning sun

Eastern newt, red-eft phase
Pickerel Frog
And finally, an old birch tree creates a home for new life to flourish.

Be sure to enjoy this great summer weather - we're already into the last week of July.


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