Friday, September 9, 2016

Out and About: Round Lake Nature Notes Summer 2016

           Sometimes I find it hard to leave Round Lake to go somewhere else to hike, paddle and bird watch. There’s so much to see and do here, whether it’s the water, woods, gardens, or trails, that I’m happy to be home and out and about. A constant sighting this spring and summer has been Rabbits! I think there’s a cottontail in every garden, yard, wooded edge, and trail this season. I have one that visits daily and nibbles the Lupines and chews a specific patch of grass. It sits very still in the yard as we come and go. It is undetected by the dog. The mild winter, without extremely cold temperatures and lots of snow cover, helped rabbits and their young ones readily find vegetation to eat. They start reproducing in February and keep on hopping until fall. New development and habitat loss have likely caused more cottontails to move into the village too. Development has caused a greater number of garter snakes to be on Bob Sweet’s property than in the past. For the very first time, Florence Cruz, who lives near the new development, has had two broods of Blue Birds in her nest box at her home on Cleveland Avenue. Gil Rigney was happy to see a Bluebird drinking from the birdbath in her yard. We can provide cover, food, water, and nesting spots in our village gardens to help wildlife through this habitat change.
      Then there’s the chipmunks. They are everywhere! I remember a time when it was just squirrels, Round Lake’s very first residents. It seems that those of us with vegetable gardens all have a chipmunk raiding garden story. From grape, cherry and even the large tomatoes, to ground cherries, strawberries and even hot peppers. What did they devour of yours? In my garden the squirrels sit on the tomato cages and take bites out of the beefsteak tomatoes. The chippies take the husks off the ground cherries before enjoying them. With the hot peppers they stop at the seeds which are the hottest part. But if they didn’t, that would teach them. I don't remember such bad behavior from them in the past, do you?
      I am always eager to see Monarch butterflies around and finally had a first of the season sighting at my milkweed on July 28th. A female flew over all fifty plus of my milkweed plants, stopping and doing what looked like laying eggs. The next day I found an egg on the underside of a milkweed leaf, where Monarchs typically place an egg. I started watching and photographing the egg and then the caterpillar. Unfortunately, the caterpillar disappeared after several days. It was too soon to be off forming a chrysalis but hopefully it got to that point. Photos are on my blog. I did see Monarchs through the month of August in my garden, down on the outlet and at the Round Lake Preserve. It's great habitat for them there with Milkweed and wildflowers growing in the fields up from the Anthony Kill. My friend, JudySelig, reported sightings around town and in her garden on Washington Avenue, as well. Thanks to Aaron Morris who spreads different kinds of milkweed and butterfly weed around the village by giving it to friends and neighbors. I definitely saw more Monarchs this season than last. Let's keep planting Milkweed! I have plenty of pods of seeds I'd love to share. Let me know. Jane, I remember you want some!
      Lastly, the lake is such a wonderful, bird watching, fishing, full moon rising, sunset and sunrise, relaxing and beautiful place to be. Whether you go down to the boat launch, preserve, or get on the lake in a boat, you are rewarded with sightings (Great Blue Heron, Great-crested Cormorants, Bald Eagles, Kingfishers, Ospreys, and more) and just a quiet calm get away. Enjoy it all Round Lakers! Why would we live anywhere else? Hope everyone had a wonderful summer, Diane.

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