Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Winter Ramblings

Alrighty - I'm back on the scene here. Busy days - had a program with a garden club first thing in the morning my first day back - had to come in early to get the jeep and drive to the club's meeting (about an hour away). Today we had our first school group of the winter in for our tracking and snowshoeing program - great kids. So, at long last, I have a moment to get some stuff on the blog.

For lack of anything exciting, here are just some random shots from various walks while I was "on vacation."

First up, we have Ray's snowman, all completed. This was before all the wind and rain hit, so he's looking pretty good still.

Down at the pump house on the Hudson River, the mice had been very active. Now, admittedly, this could've all been the work of one industrious mouse. It had been over a week since we had had any snow, so these tracks could be the accumulated trips of several days/nights.

My friend Pat asked me to come by her house to identify some mystery tracks over the weekend. They turned out to be from the neighbor's dog. But, I also got a tour of the property to look at other tracks. Fox and birds dominated, but they also have a marten that visits regularly. Why? Here's the answer:

Hanging your turkey carcass outside is a great way to attract weasels and birds. Here's a chickadee enjoying a late morning snack:

After checking out the scene at Pat's, Toby and I went for a walk down along the Hudson. This portion is not a section I visit too often. Here we have the view downstream from the bridge. Lots of rushing water over frozen rocks.

Looking upstream from the bridge, things are a lot calmer. The ice is tempting to walk on, but I'm not quite that stupid - thin spots could be almost anywhere above that moving water.

The town has put a snowmobile trail along the river at this point (to the right side of the water in the above photo). I didn't hear any machines out there, so Toby and I walked down the snowmobile trail. I know that beavers, deer, moose, et al have all travelled this corridor, so I was hoping for some good finds. The first (and best) find was this lovely grouse feather:

Right after I snapped the photo, I heard a grouse take flight in the trees behind me. Dang! I was hopeful that I might see another one, but no such luck.

The buds on the speckled alder were swollen and fuzzy. Maybe the very mild weather we had early last week gave them some hopeful thoughts that spring was on the way. These were surely dashed when the temps plummeted several degrees below zero a couple days later.

Are these icy shelf fungi? Nope, just icy shelves! I suspect that the water from all the rain last week brought the stream level up, froze, and then the liquid drained out into the river leaving the ice high and dry.

We walked most of the way down the trail, but I could feel the wind picking up at our backs, so I knew we had better turn around soon. When we did, it was face-first into an increasing gale, and I didn't have a hat with me (who knew we'd go for a walk here?). Much of the trail is out in the open along the river, so getting back to the trees and seeing this (photo below) was a very welcome sight!

On my way back from the garden club's meeting yesterday, I stopped at a small wetland along Butternut Flats, a short stretch of road just south of Pottersville. It was a beautiful morning and there were some interesting things in the wetland, like this old nest that has seen better days:

What really caught my eye was all these raised ice shelves:

The wetland was filled with them:

I suspect their existence is the result of the same rain that made the ones I found along the river last week.

And finally, our special visitor from yesterday:

This sleepy barred owl put in an appearance just off our back deck and was here off and on most of the day. Apparently it was here for a while yesterday, too. It's probably scoping out the mouse (and squirrel?) situation at the bird feeders.

So there you are - a quick fix from the Adirondacks. Enjoy!


  1. It's great to have you back - I missed you last week! Lots of wonderful shots here. Love the ice shelves and the lovely feather, but your gorgeous, perfect owl takes the cake (though I suppose s/he'd prefer a mouse, really). That photo really shows off its excellent camoflage.

  2. Ha ha, I'm sure my neighbors would love to see our bird carcasses hanging in our yard.

    Great Owl Shot!

  3. Glad to have you back, Ellen, and to go on this walk with you through your blog. What a treat to have an owl in your back yard!

  4. All right now I'm going to have to eat turkey for the next week so I too can have a carcus to hang. Good idea, I never dreamed of hanging one out. For now the suet feeders will have to do.

    Missed your blog and I'm glad you are back.

    The grouse and the owl...the owl...well, just grand. Thanks for the nice walk.