“Brown cliffs with deep green lakes in the hollows, flat blade-like trees that waved from root to tip, round boulders of grey stone, vast crumpled surfaces of a thin crackling texture—all these objects lay across the snail’s progress between one stalk and another to his goal.” ― Virginia Woolf, in “Kew Gardens”
Another month, another walk around Kezar Lake in Sutton, NH. Two walks, in fact, on the 13th of April (high temp of 74F, low of 39F) and on the 22nd (high of 76F and low of 44F).
The lake ice was receding and deteriorating on the 13th.
Mud persisted …
… but the rock cairn was finally uncovered, and some of our rocks and shells from the fall remained.
Just liked the art of this.
The biggest surprise that day was sighting this Eastern Comma butterfly (Polygonia comma)! It’s one of the earliest we see around here.
By the second visit on 22 April, the ice was out.
The “beach” picnic area pathway was once again accessible, after a winter of deep snow-cover and another month of treacherous ice.
False hellebore (Veratrum viride) was emerging in a wet spot, as well as coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) flowers, whose leaves come later.
And some ferns.
The cairn was beautifying.
Garter snakes had recently been born, but sadly, the five or six I saw that day were all dead on the dirt road. I don’t know what happened. Poisoning? Cold? Cars (though they don’t look very squished)?
To my further dismay, the Sutton town road crews had piled dirt up over a foot high in the road, preparing to spread it out for road maintenance, just at the time of the “big night” — the night (or nights, a different one for each species) with rain and low temps over 40, when amphibians move from their winter dens to their vernal breeding pools: “Amphibians such as wood frogs and spotted salamanders, some of the most common amphibians in the Upper Valley [of New Hampshire], have what is called ‘breeding site fidelity.’ This means that they return year after year, to the same pool to breed and lay their eggs. Sometimes, these pools are the very same ones they were born in. For many amphibians, the up to a quarter mile journey means crossing at least one road.” (More here.)
A foot-tall obstacle only adds to their chances of not making it across the road before being hit by a car or nabbed in the open by a predator. Maybe the “big night” had already happened here for each species by 22 April — I sure hope so.
Not this year but three years ago on 8 May 2016 spouse rescued this red-spotted newt (Notophthalmus viridescens) from the dirt road here.
Featured image: dirt piled into a ridge
This is one in a series of posts revisiting field trips taken from January to June 2019, as described here.