Dragonfly Moult

This dragonfly just crawled out of its nymph carcass. It chose the webbed strap of our colorful kayak cart to finish its moult and then dry off its wings in the sun.

In its nymph stage, just like in its adult dragonfly stage, these guys (or are they one guy) are fearsome predators. Google “dragonfly nymph feeding” and you can watch many YouTube videos that are a way too gruesome for my little blog. I don’t think anyone comes here to watch worms, tadpoles, and feeder fish be chomped and gobbled up by something that looks like it inspired Ridley Scott’s Alien.

With its moult complete, this dragonfly will eat just about every bug it can get its mouth near. It catches bugs like mosquitos, flies, mayflies by using its legs as a basket to dump food into its mouth. Dragonflies basically eat constantly, And they are among the most efficient predators on the planet. Some estimates saying they capture 95% of the prey they set their eyes on. One look at that mask of theirs (the large hinged lower lip) lets you know these guys mean business.

Oh, dragonflies don’t bite people unless you really really provoke them, say by holding them when they want to fly away. They seem to be drawn to colorful clothing. If one lands on you, just sit quietly and enjoy it.

If you watch birds, you are birding. If you watch odonata (the Latin name for the dragonfly species) you are oding. We enjoyed this weekend’s oding. Dragonflies are buzzing around Long Lake in great numbers right now.

Lookin’ lively

We’ve been seeing Bald Eagles regularly on the lake already this year. This one had been fishing. More likely scrounging.

A tasty morsel, for sure.

And there have been turkeys aplenty this year too. This tom was looking for a date and putting on quite a display.

Even though Bald Eagles may have untidy table manners, I am grateful that Ben Franklin didn’t win the argument about which bird should be our national symbol. Turkeys may be smarter in the bird IQ department. But there’s something about that head and beard that just don’t cut it for me.

A big snapper has been sunning on the small island just across from the public access dock in the lower lake.

If your small boat can make it through the narrow cut-through, watch for the trail of tamped down grass. Snapping turtles and turkeys. Two critters that remind that life is long on this planet earth.

Spring on Long Lake

This was the evening of April 29th. As the sun sunk low, the sky above the tree line was a faint yellowy orange. Then suddenly this color burst out. And the lake echoed the color, spreading it right to the edge of our paddle boat.

The final arbiter of all color descriptions is Crayola. First Yellow-Orange, then Orange, and then a deep beautiful Sunset Orange. The transition hardly took two shakes of a lamb’s tail. Amazing.

And the loons are back. Definitely a pair around what we call Belly Button Island in the north part of the lake. And another pair in the lower lake. There are singles stopping by too. This loon was swimming in the narrows last week.

From the sublime, to the sublime, to…well, the Canada Geese are back. Would someone like to board their dog on our lawn from early June to about mid-August? Golden Retrievers and Labs are especially invited to apply.

Juvie Bald Eagle

We’re getting into the single digits here on Long Lake. And I headed into last summer’s photos to bump up the lake and tone down the knitting for this post.

This summer we saw this juvenile bald eagle a number of times and Steve got some great shots.

We are confident it’s a young bald eagle, but please let me know if you think our ID is off. Here’s another view of his (or her) not-so-national-symbol-looking self.

Bald Eagles take a long time to put their majestic on full display. Between the ages of one and four years they look so little like their parents that they’re sometimes mistaken for Golden Eagles. Their flight feathers and tail feathers are longer than their parents’ and that can make them look even larger than mom or pop.

Juveniles, also called subadults, typically have dark feathers, a dark to dirty yellow bill, with gray to slightly yellow eyes. When a bird is sexually mature, its distinctive bright yellow bill, white head, and yellow eyes appear.

We hope that this young one will make a permanent home on Long Lake.

It’s fall now

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Pulling in the docks. Pulling out the boats. Getting the house ready for winter. Laying in a supply of wood for the fireplace. Steve caught this water fowl in a pose that all the Long Lakers can relate to. Where did this summer go anyway? Wasn’t it just the 4th of July?

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But there’s no mistaking it. It’s late fall and pretty soon we’ll be seeing Long Lake iced over. For now, we enjoy the morning mist over the lake and the spicy colors of our hardwoods.

We found this tiny snapper in our lawn a few weeks ago.

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Steve picked him up from the lawn and set him near the water’s edge. He watched him slip into the lake. A baby ancient.

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We hope he makes it.

And the fishing continues. At least for the diehards, like Jeff.

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