Curly Leaf Pond Weed
Curly-leaf pondweed is a non-native, invasive species and should not be propagated.
Curly-leafed pondweed is a perennial plant that is native to Europe and gets it name from the rippled or wavy nature of its submerged leaves. The leaves are alternate, oblong 3/4 to 4 inches long and ¼ to ½ inch wide. Mature leaves are toothed with a distinct midrib with paired parallel lateral veins, nearly translucent. Stems are flattened and branching. Fruits are seldom found, they reproduce from small “burr-like” vegetative structures that from a the base of some leaves. Curly-leafed pondweed can be an aggressive invader that can cover large portions of ponds.
Submerged portions of all aquatic plants provide habitats for many micro and macro invertebrates. These invertebrates in turn are used as food by fish and other wildlife species (e.g. amphibians, reptiles, ducks, etc.). After aquatic plants die, their decomposition by bacteria and fungi provides food (called “detritus”) for many aquatic invertebrates. Since fruits are not usually present on curly-leafed pondweed, it has little food value to wildlife.
How Lake Ice Melts
- In the late fall, the lake loses heat to the atmosphere, and then on a day or night when the wind is not blowing, ice forms. The ice gets thicker as long as the lake can continue to lose heat.
- In most Januaries and Februaries, snow both reflects sunlight and insulates the lake. With a thick snow layer, the lake neither gains nor loses heat. The bottom sediment is actually heating the lake water slightly over the winter, from stored summer heat.
- Around March, as the air warms and the sun gets more intense, the snow melts, allowing light to penetrate the ice. Because the ice acts like the glass in a greenhouse, the water beneath it begins to warm, and the ice begins to melt FROM THE BOTTOM.
- When the ice thickness erodes to between 4 and 12 inches, it transforms into long vertical crystals called “candles.” These conduct light even better, so the ice starts to look black, because it is not reflecting much sunlight.
- Warming continues because the light energy is being transferred to the water below the ice. Meltwater fills in between the crystals, which begin breaking apart. The surface appears grayish as the ice reflects a bit more light than before.
- The wind comes up, and breaks the surface apart. The candles will often be blown to one side of the lake, making a tinkling sound as they knock against one another, and piling up on the shore. In hours, a sparkling blue lake, once again!
Loon Fun Facts
- Do Loons Mate For Life?
Loons do not mate for life in the typical sense that swans and geese do. If both the male and female survive the winter (they migrate separately), they will annually return to the same lake and re-unite. However, a loon’s allegiance is to the nesting lake , not it’s mate. If the last year’s mate fails to return, the loon will select a new mate.
- Loon Enemies:
- Humans (can be worst enemy or best friend)
- Raccoons (attracted by garbage, they patrol shorelines for an easy meal of loon eggs and young chicks).
- Gulls (also a scavenger that eats both eggs and young chicks).
- Ravens and crows (sharp eyed egg robbers).
- Large fish and snapping turtles (eat chicks).
- Intruders Beware
Giving the tremolo call, standing upon the water (penguin dance), rowing with their wings across the water, splashing before a dive, and trying to look large are all desperate maneuvers loons use to distract intruders from a nest or chicks. If not left alone they may abandon their family in helpless frustration.
The Winter Loon
A winter loon molts to a nondescript gray plumage, rarely calls, loses the red in it’s eye and fishes all day. Its as if the loon reserves it’s charisma for the North Country it symbolizes.
Generations of North Country visitors have been enchanted by the calls loons reserved for lakeside summers. At any time, day or night a loon’s powerful voice might echo through the bays and islands of some misty lake. The calls are haunting, sometimes mournful, and always wild. They also have meaning. For loons, four basic calls convey specific messages.
- The WAIL sounds like a wolf’s howl. Loons wail to contact each other over long distances. This call is usually heard in the evening and often when a loon on the nest wails to exchange places with its mate.
- THE TREMOLO sounds like a quavering laugh and is typically used when loons are annoyed or alarmed. Loons also use the tremolo as a social greeting and when in flight.
- THE YODEL is the most unusual, longest and complex of the loon’s repertoire. Its slow, rising note, followed by several undulating phrases, is given only by the males. The yodel is used either to establish a territory or, when coupled with a “penguin dance” (wings cocked and extended, body raised above the water), to scare away an intruder.
- THE HOOT sound is a soft, intimate, one-note call loons use to communicate with each other and their chicks in close quarters.
- The Trumpeter Swan was hunted for its feathers throughout the 1600s – 1800s, causing a tremendous decline in its numbers. Its largest flight feathers made what were considered to be the best quality quill pens.
- Swans can live a long time. Wild Trumpeter Swans have been known to live longer than 24 years, and one captive individual lived to be 32.
- Trumpeter Swans form pair bonds when they are three or four years old. The pair stays together throughout the year, moving together in migratory populations. Trumpeters are assumed to mate for life, but some individuals do switch mates over their lifetimes. Some males that lost their mates did not mate again.