Watching Ice Melt, Holly and Tasha Playing - UPDATE April 24, 2019

I was working fine until the ice intrigued me. By midday, all the ice had melted from my visible end of Woods Lake.Tasha and TedTasha and Ted At 2:30 PM, it was ice-covered again with the temperature 71°F. Then I saw that the ice was moving. An acre of ice had broken off from the other end and was blowing across the lake. Black ice. I had to get a picture. A piece had lodged against the dock where I could see how thick it was—2 and 5/8ths inches thick and made up of vertical shards each about a quarter inch in diameter. The shards barely held together in their melting condition. Out of the black water, they were shining pieces of clear ice.

Then I noticed why crows, eagles, and other birds sometimes land on melting ice to forage. As the surface of the ice melts, anything trapped in the ice is released and stays on the surface. This piece of ice had tiny (1/2 inch) white worms and a big tadpole.

Tadpole in iceTadpole in ice Half inch worm in iceHalf inch worm in ice Black ice on woods lakeBlack ice on woods lake

Then another acre of ice broke free and was blowing my way. I had to see what happened when it hit the first acre of ice. It sounded like tinkling bells as the shards of black ice piled up bright white in the collision zone. Looking farther, the bright shards were piling up where the first piece of ice was being pushed harder into the shore.

Black ice blowing byBlack ice blowing by Black ice sheets collidingBlack ice sheets colliding Black ice out of waterBlack ice out of water

Meanwhile, gulls were landing on the black ice and a loon had 80% of the lake ice-free for diving for food. Being the biggest piece of open water in the area. Ducks were landing for brief periods: a beautiful male wood duck, 3 common mergansers, 2 hooded mergansers, and a couple mallards—all too far away for decent pictures.

Loon on woods lakeLoon on woods lakeAt the end, a small piece of black ice blew by with the back end of it being broken up by the wind and waves that were pushing it, and the front end pushing through the calmer water it was protecting from the waves.

I had never watched spring break-up like this before.

Going back inside, I found good news. Holly and Tasha had a good, friendly play session. A relief. Then Tasha went over and said hi to Ted through the fence. Glad to see things clicking.

Thank you for all you do.
Lynn Rogers, Biologist, Wildlife Research Institute and North American Bear Center