I put on my snow boots and trudged through the CRP this afternoon. About 8 inches on the ground on average--sometimes over a foot. I tried to walk around the perimeter, sometimes balancing on old ski tracks, sometimes even sliding across the icy crust. Not much active wildlife but lots of evidence of past activity.
For example, holes in the otherwise smooth crust, far from the tracks of dogs and snow walkers like me. Upon investigation, pretty clearly outlet holes for something with underground/snow tunnels (meadow mice, I assume).
This dirty trail went between the exposed swamp water and a burrow at the base of a dead tree.
And I'm guessing an otter did this.
Finally, bluebirds. I was able to get extremely close (in fact, they practically flew into me). Pure sweetness.
Yes, I am a sweet little pine siskin, kind and GET OFF OF MY FEEDER!
Well, nothing is sweeter than me, a little goldfinch, always mild and GET OFF MY FEEDER!
A little tension on this cold afternoon between the turn-takers and the feeder hogs. The goldfinches and the siskins tend to tolerate each other but the titmice have been battling them all day long. The fiercest skirmishes, though, seem to be intraspecies.
Mill Street in Dover runs along the Charles River. During the winter you can see many ducks and mergansers (common and hooded) seeking refuge along the banks there. The mallards and mergansers don't get along (the mallards exerting that "I'm going to swim towards you" pressure).
No point trudging through the woods and fields the day after a snow storm. Go to the coast for your taste of bird goodness. A brief trip to Marblehead scored a common loon, surf scoters, eiders, and a common merganser (seen through binoculars, poorly photographed). Back to Salem and its lovely powerplant just in time to catch this blue jay-hawk interaction. (click on images for more detail).
Coolidge Reservation, a Trustees property in Manchester-By-The-Sea, offers many gorgeous ocean views, especially if you come with new eyes, as I did this afternoon. Distant yet clear views of cormorant islands and diving bufflehead families. And here's another story about the difference a pair of binoculars makes. I glimpsed a pair of ducks on a rock right off shore. I moved to get a better view and spotted another. Picking up the binoculars I immediately see the obvious thing I missed--a black and white eider drake. This is an eider family. I watch for a little while and I see some movement. Little pigeon like shapes. Could these be purple sandpipers? They moved up the rock (giving me better views). Why did they move, you ask? Because of our last hidden creature, a black duck, who came to rest a while with the eiders. (Note: I managed to simulate my experience through crop and zoom. The important point is--I wouldn't have "seen" anything to photograph had it not been for the binoculars.)
For as long as I can remember, my walks in Pittsburgh have always had bookstores at the end of them. This year, for the first time, I actively sought out green spaces. Schenley Park, while dominated by joggers and dog walkers, has some attractions for bird watchers (the white-throated sparrows are particularly abundant this time of year). Indeed, there is active feeding going on (which keeps the cardinals close at hand). My favorite view, was a pair of hawks, perched on a telephone pole high above Panther Hollow. One of whom displayed a striking gap in its plumage when in flight.