Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Out and About: Round Lake Nature Notes April 2014

    I think winter has finally relented to spring, although I keep expecting one last snow shower or ice event. I went down to the lake on April tenth to snap a picture of the ice going out. I ended up being there for an hour and a half. As I ran across Route 9, I could see something large sitting on the ice way out across the lake. My binoculars helped me confirm it was a Bald Eagle. It sat on the ice by the edge of open water, doing nothing in particular. Meanwhile, in the choppy water a Common Loon repeatedly dove for fish. A Bufflehead, which is a black and white duck with a rather large head, bobbed along the waves by itself. Fifty or so Common Mergansers took flight, flew around, and splash landed. A Great Blue Heron silently flapped over the water towards the outlet.
    I ran home, grabbed another camera, hurried back, and still the eagle presided over the ice. Minutes later, it flew up and was greeted by another adult. They both settled back down on the ice. A juvenile eagle, lacking the white head, flew in and glided along the eastern lake shore. Enter the mergansers, all fifty plus of them. The ducks seemed apprehensive and nervous as they passed the eagles. They flapped their wings, dove under water and splashed around. With all the open water, I wondered why they didn't put more distance between themselves and the eagles. Instead they swam right along the ice and open water edge in close proximity to the two birds of prey.
    Suddenly I saw the ducks do an about-face. This time the mergansers seemed calmer, just swimming past the eagles, who were bolt upright paying close attention to the ducks. The scene reminded me of generals reviewing their troops. I found all this very entertaining and took way too many pictures. I have several on my blog. Finally I pulled myself away from the lake. Ice went out completely probably in the early hours of April twelfth. It was later than the last two years. In 2012 Ice-Out was March fourth and in 2013 it happened on March fifteenth.
    On April twelfth temperatures were in the seventies and the warmth lingered through the evening. Dan came in that night from dog walking and said I had to come outside and see something. We walked up to South Lawn where the party was hopping... in the puddles that is. The frogs were extremely loud and very active.  They leaped over and onto one another, while puffing out their throats and trilling. It was really riveting-haha! Judy Selig was at the same location a little later enjoying the frog chorus and in addition, heard the peenting sound of an American Woodcock bird. Dan and I heard one a week or so earlier further down the Zim Smith trail. Woodcocks are very hard to see as their coloration matches the leaf litter on the forest floor where they search for earthworms. At dawn and dusk in spring, males make a loud peent sound with a spiraling aerial display, twittering sounds and a steep dive back to the ground all to attract a female. Dan and I saw the bird flying around in the dark but trees prevented us from getting a good look at exactly what it was doing.
     So now you know that Round Lake night life is hopping and/or flighty depending on what you see when you're out and about. Happy Spring everyone!


No comments:

Post a Comment