Thursday, January 5, 2017

Deep freeze done? #phenology

I'm going way out on a limb and speculate that today will be the nadir of the Winter of 2016 / 2017, at least as far as temperatures go. The weather forecast calls for a gradual but erratic improvement in temperatures for the next ten days or so, which include, by the way, a Friday the 13th a week from tomorrow. The days are lengthening, on the rare occasion that the wind stops blowing at the same time the sky isn't cloudy, a bit of warmth from the sun comes through the atmosphere. Let's just keep telling ourselves that Spring is inevitable even if the journey there is excruciatingly slow.

one of the local red squirrels
one of the local red squirrels
Photo by J. Harrington

The red squirrels seem to really appreciate the (heated) bird bath as a water source. The suet feeder is keeping woodpeckers, black-capped chickadees and nuthatches happy. Someone, probably the Pileated Woodpecker, stressed and bent one of the hinges on the suet feeder door, so that got fixed before a fresh chunk of suet was inserted. I'm not sure where the goldfinches have gone this Winter, few, if any, have been seen, and still no sign of Cardinals.

male Pileated Woodpecker
male Pileated Woodpecker
Photo by J. Harrington

Watching the front feeder this morning, it was pretty well abandoned until about 10 am. By then the sun was up and the wind was down, at least a little. I'm hoping that delaying the dog walks until past mid-afternoon will make them less uncomfortable for all involved.

The snow cover is shallow enough that the deer should be able to move around, but so far there are few tracks behind the house and only one brief early morning siting this year. None of the neighborhood turkeys have been seen this winter either. Much as I enjoy reading, I'd rather spend my days watching wildlife. As the weather warms, maybe we'll see more and I'll be able to get some fresh photos without risking severe frostbite.


Behold the gloomy tyrant’s awful form
Binding the captive earth in icy chains;
His chilling breath sweeps o’er the watery plains,
Howls in the blast, and swells the rising storm.

See from its centre bends the rifted tower,
Threat’ning the lowly vale with frowning pride,
O’er the scared flocks that seek its sheltering side,
A fearful ruin o’er their heads to pour.

While to the cheerful hearth and social board
Content and ease repair, the sons of want
Receive from niggard fate their pittance scant;
And where some shed bleak covert may afford,
Wan poverty, amidst her meagre host
Casts round her haggard eyes, and shivers at the frost.

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