Sunday, January 6, 2013

Still Snowy!

I'm amazed at how well our snow from last Saturday has stuck. I'm used to seeing snow turn to grayish mush and disappear after a few days around here, but it's been a week now without any new precipitation, and the snow still looks surprisingly pristine:

Osbornedale State Park gave me lots of things to explore yesterday morning, lot least in the snow itself. Criss-crossing with the people-trails (full of boot prints and ski tracks) were many sets of deer paths, where hooves left deep, clear impressions in the snow:

And much of the snow under the brush showed the tracks of little hopping sparrows (there's even a perfect pair of avian footprints on the left in this picture):

All the usual winter birds were out and about, including this male Downy Woodpecker (so cute!):

And several White-throated Sparrows gave me somewhat unusual views. This bird happened to take off just as I snapped a picture, showing (who knew!) yellow feathers under its wing:

I watched a couple of these sparrows munching on bittersweet berries -- these plants are invasive, but the birds do seem to like them. [Edit: To clarify, there are two species of bittersweet, American and Oriental, and it's the Oriental Bittersweet that's invasive.] I love the bird's clinging claws in this picture, and its brightly-patterned face with the goopy red berry; too bad about all those branches in the way:

Mmmm, goopy berry:

Unfortunately, it looks like we'll have slightly warmer temperatures and possibly some rain in the next few days.... I'm glad I got out to enjoy the snow while I could!


  1. Lovely images, beautiful shots of the sparrows. Have a great day!

  2. Great pics. It can be hard to tell the difference, but there is a native American bittersweet and an oriental bittersweet. Oriental bittersweet
    has yellow capsules surrounding the fruit, while those of the native bittersweet are orange.

    1. Good point about the bittersweet! I'll update my post to make that distinction, since the oriental is the invasive one -- I tend to assume that most of the bittersweet I see is oriental bittersweet, but I didn't actually look at this plant closely enough to be able to say for sure. Thanks for the comment!

  3. Another diagnostic difference between the native and alien bittersweets is that the native one bears its fruit in terminal clusters, while the alien one bears its fruit in axillary clusters along the vine. Sadly, the alien species has pretty much supplanted our native bittersweet, which is more and more difficult to find. At least the birds like to eat the alien fruits, although the birds do help to spread the bad bittersweet by pooping out the seeds. Lovely photos of those birds, by the way.