Tag Archives: snow

Mystery Tracks

I stood looking down from the bedroom window at the snow.  The pristine blanket of white was broken by a trail leading from the woods down and around the top of the property.  I squinted against the blandness of white on white. The tracks followed the edge of the mountain laurel, stopping at the sandbox then making a beeline to the bird feeders before wandering off through the arborvitae hedge to the neighbors yard.  What the heck!  I threw off my robe, gathering clothes as I headed down the stairs.  I wanted to see if I could tell what they were, so I grabbed my camera as I headed out.

Well, I don’t know.  They look sort of like cat prints. But big. Maybe 2 inches across. I didn’t see any claw marks, so I don’t think they are a dog.  Have you seen bobcat prints? How big are they?  There is a Weimaraner that lives up the hill. Could it be her?

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Ratty dines out

I just learned the answer to the burning question.  How do muskrats eat in winter?  It is the question that is keeping you up nights, I know.  While I was at the Liberty Loop of the Wallkill National Wildlife Refuge today, I saw a muskrat trot across the snow and burrow into a footprint.   Very smart I thought, since there is a hard crusty layer of ice on top of the snow.  I walked over to peer at the dark lump and all I saw was scuffed up grass and a tail.  Being vegetarian, he had burrowed into the snow to get at the grass underneath.

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Then, with his tummy full, he was off. “Home Again, Home Again, Riggity Jig.”  He reminded me of Ratty from Wind in the Willows.

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His little snow covered den looks cozy doesn’t it.

muskrat-den

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My World – snow spot

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Can you guess what this is?

Not a footprint.

Nothing fell from the trees.

Not a squirrel butt mark.

I’ll give you a hint….

Think small, really small….

Give up?

It is a chickadee snow bath wallow.

I looked out my window to see a Black-capped Chickadee taking a snow bath.  By the time I dashed to the garage to get the camera out of the car and made it round the house; the Chickadee was long gone, but its tub was still there.  Pretty cool, huh.  Now that I know they do this, I’m on the lookout.  I’d love to get it on video.

To see what is happening in other parts of the world, check out Show My World.

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Birding in a Blizzard

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Tufted Titmouse

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Black-capped Chickadee

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Slate-colored Junco

A blizzard has struck the northeast.  We are predicted to get 12 inches of snow.  I did not go to work, so I sat snug and dry in my garage  taking pictures of my local backyard flock hustling for food.  Garages make great DRY bird blinds.

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MoDo in the snow

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The storm

Jeff eased the truck to a stop and reached down to put it into 4-wheel drive.  He rubbed his eyes; it had been a long night. The snow was coming down now as tiny glittery crystal shards. He peered through the windshield calculating whether he would be able to get up the drive.  24 inches was a lot of snow.  He lowered the plow, revved the motor and started up the long hill.

Six more houses to go-then home.

The west wind howled around the house and blew snow across the road as he finally turned into his driveway.  Lowering the blade and starting to scrape, by force of habit he glanced up at the house for lights.  There was a faint glimmer in the kitchen; he shrugged, he must have left the light on over the stove.  That was not like him, but he had stumbled out when he got the call.

After finishing the drive, he parked down by the garages – ready to leave again for the next round.  He gathered up the shovel and salt to start clearing the walk.  As he came around the side of the house, the front door opened a crack and a hand with a steaming cup of coffee reached out.  He stopped stunned.  He knew that hand.  His son, Mike, must have come home during the storm.  He smiled gratefully, took a big gulp, burnt his tongue and set the mug down on the porch.  He hoped Mikey would stick around for a while this time.

As Jeff  started to shovel a path to the back of the house, he noticed the indentations in the snow.  Apparently Mike had been out to fill the feeders sometime during the storm.  The feeding stations were packed.  There were birds perched on the branches of the trees and shrubs.  There were Cardinals and Juncos on the ground eating seed.

Suddenly they all scattered.

Jeff looked up scanning the sky.  It must be a hawk, but he saw nothing.  A few of the finches settled back down on the Nyger sack.  A Downy Woodpecker hadn’t moved from the suet cage that hung from a nail hammered into the oak.

Jeff stamped his feet and rested the shovel against the house.  He stretched his back.  His shoulders ached.  He turned to go in the house when a brown hawk streaked across the yard.  The birds disappeared again.  The downy looked up and froze, its beak smeared with suet.  The Sharp-shinned Hawk flew off banking to make another run.

The Downy flew up to the underside of a large horizontal branch and hunkered down.  It became a flat black and white smear.  Jeff froze too.  The Sharpie flew past the oak again completely ignoring him. The Downy did not move.  Jeff could see it; but hidden under the branch, the Sharpie could not.  The hawk circled a few more times, and then flew off still searching.

Jeff picked up the stone cold mug and opened the door to warmth and the smell of bacon. The snow had stopped but the sky still looked ominous.  He was ready for breakfast and a nap.  He glanced through the window as he shrugged out of his coat and saw the downy  once again up to its beak in suet.

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