Sunday, November 25, 2018

November 25, 2018: Winter Brings the Bobcat

Astronomical winter won't arrive for almost four weeks, and even meteorological winter doesn't begin until December first, but it sure looked like winter in New England this Thanksgiving.
Sunrise after the storm
Sticky snow dried out nicely once it got cold
Just enough snow to allow some November skiing

Change happens fast around here sometimes.  On Tuesday Lake Wicwas was mostly open water, but Wednesday the snow dropped in the lake made it look like the lake was starting to freeze over.
Slush on the lake about a third of the way across
But it was mostly slush, and when the wind came it blew all that away so the next day there was only ice in the coves.
Opened up again after the wind
But as soon as the wind let up the entire lake froze over save where the current flows toward the dam, and around the shore where earth retains the heat - that's what a couple of nights in single digits will do.  I will be surprised if it lasts the winter though, and I always wonder if it counts as ice-in if it opens up again.  My rule is no, it has to last, and with warm weather this week we'll wait to see what happens.

A frozen lake makes travel for animals much easier - even if we get a lot of snow because the wind will firm it up - and the lighter animals are already taking advantage of it.  Our local bobcat came by to hunt for squirrels yesterday.  We heard a ruckus outside in the early evening;  going to investigate we found the source:  squirrels high-tailing it for safety having seen a bobcat approaching on the lake.
Not taking much care to be covert
Seeing a bobcat is always one of the highlights of winter, and it didn't take long for them to show up this year.  We put up one bird feeder after the snow and the cold stretch, thinking the bears were in for the winter - time will tell if we're right, but so far, so good.  So, the squirrels are back in force (they never completely go away) and right on cue, the bobcats came to hunt.
Now it's on the prowl as it comes up off the lake
Creeping toward the feeders
Highly focused on something
But nothing here left to see
He/she will be back to hunt again!
I wonder if it was its first visit this year, as it didn't seem to be keeping its approach hidden.  Usually they creep along the edge of the lake using the blueberry bushes for cover.  That's the approach it took once it realized there was food here, but then it was too late.

So this cat went away hungry tonight, at least from our yard, though with the plentiful stock of rodents this year, I expect it won't have much trouble finding a meal.  I'm hoping for more sightings, and maybe even a chance to see a bobcat catch a squirrel under the feeder.  If this snow keeps up there will be lots of good stalking opportunities for the predator, and difficult escapes for the prey.

A late update: there were fresh bear tracks in the soft snow today. Bird feeders are back in the house.

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