Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Out and About: Round Lake Nature Notes November 2014

We started November still not having a frost and were able to continue to enjoy blooming flowers and decent temperatures. Finally on November fourteenth, we got frost and snow flurries. Several days later, the temperatures took a nosedive into the twenties. There was light snow mixed with rain. Thankfully, we did not receive the huge amounts of snow that the Buffalo area did and hopefully, we never will. Where would it all go here in the village? If such a snowfall was to happen, I know that Round Lakers would make the best of it. We would help each other dig out our walks and cars as well as, shovel off heavy snow loads from porch roofs. Snow sculptures, forts, and snow people would be everywhere. But wait! We might have our opportunity as I am now hearing of a storm coming in for Thanksgiving. Fingers crossed that it stays well under a foot.
When the leaves are off the trees, bird, paper wasp, and squirrel nests are all revealed. The squirrel nests are the round leaf balls we see usually in the crook of trees. They are called dreys. These nests are made up of leaves attached to small twigs or branches. An inner nest consists of grass, moss, leaves, and pine needles. The opening is most times against the trunk. Squirrels make these at the end of summer or early autumn to keep warm on frigid winter days and nights. The drey is not sheltered enough to have January babies in them and instead tree cavities are used. The drey is fine for the June brood. Look for these nests all around the village. Once you notice them, you'll see them everywhere. Last winter I watched European Starlings poking their bills into a drey most likely, looking for insects to eat. Sometimes squirrels will abandon the nest if there are too many lice and fleas in it.
Another thing to look for at this time of year are vole tunnels. They are runways dug underneath the grass or soil and appear slightly mounded above the ground. The tunnels lead from a sheltered area to a tree where the vole can chew the bark and roots without being seen by predators like foxes and owls. There is one in Schoolhouse Park right now. If you face the park and walk up the left side, it is on bare ground. Hope you spot it. Also, skunks have been out nosing around for grubs and earthworms in the park. They put their noses to the ground and dig with their front claws, leaving a hole the size of their nose. While still in the park, walk back beyond the labyrinth on the east side and you might see some Eastern Bluebirds flitting around in the trees. I saw four of them the other day in this spot.

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