Friday, March 17, 2017

March Snow!

Well that was definitely a snow storm! We had heavy snow and wind throughout Tuesday and Wednesday, and then when it was all over, Thursday morning was clear, bright, beautiful, and very snowy:

The reported snowfall in the area was around 15 inches, but there was so much wind that some spots (like a patch of yard next to our house) ended up with almost no snow, while other spots (like the garden bed out front where some hopeful daffodils were thinking about blooming a couple of weeks ago) are now under 3-foot snow drifts. So I didn't get very far when I somewhat foolishly tried to walk in the Roy H. Park Preserve on Thursday morning without my snowshoes. I'd forgotten how hard it is to walk while repeatedly sinking into almost-knee-high snow! Before I turned around I was at least able to admire the walls of snow-covered conifers:

And I enjoyed these dainty alder catkins (not yet in bloom) that were dangling next to the path:

When I got back home, I strapped on my snowshoes and added another layer of clothing (it was sunny outside but the wind was intense!) and I headed back out to walk along the fields near our house. I wasn't about to miss out on one of the only substantial snowfalls we've had this winter!

I love the combination of snow and bright blue sky, and this sky was amazing:

The wind really was strong. Big clouds of snow kept blowing off the trees on a neighboring hillside:

And when I turned around after 15 minutes or so of walking, the wind was already working on filling in my footprints:

A Turkey Vulture soared overhead, showing off wing and tail feathers that look like they could be made of steel:

What a cool sight: huge majestic Turkey Vulture and huge billowy clouds:

One more picture:

I'm glad I got to enjoy these post-snowstorm sights. Today has remained sunny and beautiful, and our neighborhood American Kestrel even stopped by again, looking extra handsome in the bright afternoon light:

With all the sunshine, the snow is already on its way out. I'll be curious to see how long it takes for this snow to fully melt!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

American Kestral and Red-winged Blackbirds, Pre-Storm

It's snowing heavily outside right now, and many places around here (and the roads, too) are closed to wait out the storm. This is only our second real snowstorm of the winter, and it's the middle of March! Have I mentioned that this winter is weird?

Yesterday afternoon, while the weather was still calm, a male American Kestrel showed up to hunt along the road next to our house:

A kestrel has been hunting in our neighborhood on and off all winter, and I wonder if this is the same bird. Either way, he's such a gorgeous fellow, and his fancy costume looks especially bright amid the still brown-white-gray landscape. He flew off to perch on the roof of a neighboring house, a tiny raptor on the lookout for a meal:

Somewhere off in the woods, a flock of Red-winged Blackbirds was making a lot of noise. I couldn't easily see the flock, so I'm not exactly sure how many birds were out there, but they were certainly vocal! I don't think I've ever heard so many Red-winged Blackbirds calling at once! Here's a recording:

I hope all these birds (not to mention the Spring Peepers I heard the other week) are hunkered down somewhere safe in all this snow!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Confused Winter Weather

This is my first winter in central New York, so I don't know exactly what the winters here are supposed to be like. But having lived in other not-too-distant locations, I have some guesses about what a normal winter should be like, and I'm fairly certain that this one is not it.

When I last posted, in late January, we'd had more than a week of warm, wet weather, and no snow. Well, the snow did return soon after that, and it stuck around for a while. We never had more than a few inches on the ground at a time -- never enough to get out my snow shoes -- but it did make for some nice wintry scenes. I especially enjoyed seeing the dark fertile fronds of Sensitive Fern (Onoclea sensibilis) sticking up out of the snow like flags at the Roy H. Park Preserve on January 30:

And then it got warm again, the snow melted, and it started feeling decidedly spring-like! On the afternoon of February 24, we walked walked along the fields near our home wearing sweatshirts:

A very handsome American Robin was foraging among the dead leaves and wet ground, and it perched on a convenient rock long enough for a photo. I've never noticed such a perfectly clean dotted-line ring around a robin's eye before. What a beautiful bird:

On the same walk, I thought I heard a Killdeer calling, although I never saw it, and I definitely heard a lone Spring Peeper peeping. And things just kept getting more spring-like. I heard a whole chorus of peepers a few days later. Red-winged Blackbirds showed up and started calling. Bulbs were sprouting up in gardens.

And then yesterday... snow and frigid temperatures returned. Today was sunny but with a high of 16 degrees F (and a blasting wind that made it feel close to 0). This might actually have been one of the coldest days of the whole winter. The fields that looked so much like a prelude to spring a few days ago are now white again. They're still beautiful, though, especially with that strip of blue sky:

I hope the daffodils in our yard will be able to handle this weather roller coaster:

I love winter, but this has been a very strange season, and now that I've had a taste of spring I'm ready for winter to be finished. March means the start of growing greenery and flowers and birds and amphibians.... Here we go!