Sunday, February 27, 2011

Making the Best of It

Egad! MORE snow! Another 4 or 5 inches last night, after more than a foot on Friday. My friend Sue and I are agreed that, despite being real winter lovers, we're getting pretty tired of it. Ah well, at least it was a little sunny today with the temperature climbing to almost balmy by noon. Let's make the best of it, Sue, I said, inviting her to meet me at the Betar Byway in South Glens Falls. The byway is paved and plowed so the going would be easy, and with lots of berry-laden thickets there along the path and flowing streams running into the Hudson, the chances were good we might see some interesting wildlife.

For sure, I did see a very interesting old barn, near the parking area at the north end of the byway. Such a handsome structure. How could I not have noticed it before?

There were lots and lots of birds in the trees and thickets today. Flocks of robins and English sparrows flew from treetop to treetop, while somewhere off in the woods we could hear the purring call of a wren. Tufted Titmice were filling the air with their loud three-note whistles, and the high pique! pique! pique! of a male cardinal drew our attention to him poking about among the bittersweet vines, even before we saw his brilliant red plumage. I think Sue managed to get a photo of him but I could not. Most of the birds did a very good job of hiding among the shrubbery, where our cameras always focused on the twigs instead of the birds.

So wasn't it nice of this mockingbird to hop right out into the open?

We didn't wear snowshoes today, planning to mostly stick to the path, but of course we had to wander into the woods to check on some skunk dens Sue found last year. She had seen some activity around the dens just lately, so we wondered if we would find footprints in this fresh snow. Nope. We found the holes, but Mr. Skunk seems to be waiting for better weather before he comes out again. He would probably find it hard going in this knee-deep snow. We certainly did.

But the difficulty of wading through snow was just part of the fun. And how else could we have made it out to the riverside where the bluebirds were hanging out?

Because of poor eyesight, I would never see these birds if Sue didn't point them out to me, which is only one of the many reasons I cherish her companionship. But I am ever so grateful to her for lending me her eyes. For sure, I would have missed seeing this tiny feather today, just a faint blur on the snow to me, until I saw Sue bend to take a photo of it. Then the macro lens of my camera helped me to see it too.

I don't know what kind of bird this feather is from. What strikes me is how fine and downy it is, almost like fur. I'm glad the birds have these downy feathers to keep them warm, but I'll bet that they, like us, are growing weary of winter and are looking forward to spring.


Ellen Rathbone said...

You have certainly had more than your share of snow this winter! My goodness. And it is amazing, isn't it, how things like, oh, buildings, just magically appear where they'd never been before! Especially old buildings. I suspect aliens are behind it. :D

Louise said...

I wonder if you're getting the rain that we're getting this morning? If not, it's probably heading your way. This time of year, Winter and Spring seem to battle for supremacy. I'm glad that Spring will eventually win. It can't come a moment too soon.

I didn't know that mockingbirds Wintered over. And, I don't see bluebirds around here, I think it's too wooded. Glad you had fun in the woods yesterday, in spite of the snow.

Anonymous said...

Those are great shots of the beautiful birds! I don't think I've ever seen a mockingbird, or even a bluebird in my wanderings through the woods and riverbanks!!!

The Cranky Crone, she lives alone! said...

Wow! when the snow melts you sure are going tohave a lot of water!
I have never seen a mockingbird before, so thanks for the lovely shots.

Jens said...

Perhaps a Pollack can be derived from that photo of the twigs with nearly-hidden bird?

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Ellen, there's a simple reason I never saw that barn. I parked at the opposite end of the trail from where I usually do. But I admit that doesn't disprove your alien theory.

Louise, we're getting that rain today. As for the mockingbirds and bluebirds, these are both migratory birds unless they find a good food source to see them through the winter, which is why this byway is such a great birding spot. Lots of berry bushes and vines, plus running streams.

Hi Rain, hi Cranky -- thanks for your comments. I probably wouldn't have seen those birds, myself, if my friend hadn't pointed them out to me. Plus, my camera has a pretty good zoom lens.

Hi Jens, could be, although it has fewer colors than did the dogwood photo you altered so masterfully. Always good to hear from you.