My brown winter boots are now a “rock salt” white. My jacket’s zipper is worn and sluggish from going up and over layers of clothing. Whether it was fifteen degrees below zero or a balmy fifteen above ( twenty felt like a heat wave) my dogs insisted on going outside to do leg lifts and squats. I saw a handful of fellow dog walkers out in the tundra. Some days dogs and their owners were unrecognizable because they were so bundled up. Despite the frigid temperatures and frequent snow storms, I found something each day that was interesting to look at and to take a picture of as I hurried along. The pictures are posted on my blog, Roundlakenaturenotes.blogspot.com.
Snow filtered through the pine forest settling on trees, shrubs and rocks and created all kinds of shapes: rippling, layering, sparkling and piling up and up and up! Hoar frost formed on the streams and roadsides in wonderful crystal patterns. Icicles outdid themselves this season. Freezing, dripping, melting, refreezing, some stretched the length of nearly two stories.
Bluebirds hung out on Foster, Ames, Andrews, and Bowman Avenues. They were a bright splash of color in a black and white winter world. A Northern Mockingbird feasted on rose hips from a multiflora rose on Ames Avenue. It may have spent cold nights in the chimney stack of a garage across from the rose shrub. I caught sight of it on the stack at dusk several times. Cooper’s Hawks hungrily eyed birds at feeders for their meals. While doing the Great Backyard Bird Count, I saw one snatch up a starling from the Steve Peterson yard on Andrews and take it to the frozen stream bed at the end of Peck Avenue to devour. On the last full day of winter, a Cooper’s Hawk came sailing low into my yard ( cold temperatures still) and plucked up a gray squirrel. The hawk brought it up to a tree branch in the Wade’s yard where it kept a death grip on the squirrel with its talons. It dined on it elsewhere. Pictures of both sightings are on the blog.
Great-horned owls were heard most nights around town and sometimes in the early morning. Alison Gibney called me one night to say she could hear them over by Alumni Hall. We met up to do an owl prowl and could hear three of them calling back and forth. We did not catch sight of one though as they were way up in evergreen trees and well hidden. I didn’t see or hear the Barred Owl to the south of the village as I usually do in winter. The Great-horned may have taken over the Barred’s territory.
The snow in the woods by South Lawn was crisscrossed with deer and fox tracks. On February eighth, I took a snowshoe hike along the old trolley line, which runs along the south side of the lake. The woods there also had lots of deer and fox tracks. There were at least a couple dozen deer beds in the snow, too. It’s a quiet spot for a winter deer yard with lots of twigs, nuts, lichen and fungi for deer to eat. Fresh beaver chew was spotted by the lake.
It was snowing the night that spring sprung. The next day I tried stabbing a pitch fork into the ground in my garden. Forget about it. Solid as a rock. Although we are still surrounded by snow mounds, ice chunks and a frozen lake, one can see a couple of signs of spring. I’ve heard and seen that Red-winged Blackbirds are back. My neighbor, Norma, has a flower bloom on the Hellebore plant in her front garden. There’s hope. Happy Spring Everyone!