We didn't get a January thaw this year. We didn't get much snow in January either. But the month made up for the lack of snow with frigid temperatures. For most of the month it felt like we were living on the steppes of Russia, a la the Dr. Zhivago movie. Freezing temperatures, bitter winds.
February started with a good fall of snow. Since today was a balmy -10° C, I thought I'd go to the marsh—it had been a while. Not all our decisions are good ones.
Even though I wore a parka, toque, etc. and took hand-warmers, I still found myself wondering why I was traipsing around in the snow, camera in hand, with a bitterly cold wind blowing off the lake. But then, I always try to make it to the marsh at least once in each calendar month, and since I missed January, I thought it was mild enough to venture out.
I know it's always colder at the lake—the marsh is on its north shore—than it is in the driveway, I just wasn't expecting the difference to be as pronounced as it was today. It's the damn wind. It's always the damn wind.
Enough griping. I did get a few shots, but nothing to write home about.
The Chickadees are always a treat. They land on your hand with their gentle touch, pick out a tasty looking seed, look you in the eye to say thanks, and then fly to a nearby branch to enjoy it. No matter how cold it may feel to us, nature has given them the wherewithal to snub their beaks at cold temperatures. They always seem to be as happy as a kid in a candy store.
It was too cold to feed them by hand for long, so I cleared a spot and spread some seeds on the snow.
They have an uncanny sense of timing. Often as not, by the time I get them in the frame and hit the autofocus, they're gone... milliseconds before I was going to press the shutter button. I've had more shots than I can count of empty branches, where a split second before there was a Chickadee. They have a serious case of ADD, or an overload of caffeine. Contrast them with Mourning Doves.
Even in this weather, others drop by the feeders in the marsh and add seeds for our feathered friends.
One White-breasted Nuthatch was with the Chickadees. He was a shier one. The Chickadees were 'pushing him around'. He seemed intimidated. Caught him with his beak at an odd angle.
This Chickadee was doing 'the Nuthatch thing', clinging to the bark, half upside-down.
Snow sticking to the trees does make a pretty sight.
In Ghost Road Bush. Tall, straight trees... mostly Ash I think. They'd make good ship masts, which is where a lot of them were used in earlier times. I always think of Robert Frost's poem when I see a scene like this.
Here's the poem if you haven't seen it in a while. It's one of my favourites.
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
White-throated Sparrow. Thanks Gerry. He was amongst another group of Chickadees. Snow can make for a simple background.
Milkweed poking through the snow. Hard to see with the snow behind it, but it had a few seeds clinging on.
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Cold Lake Ontario. The water was 35° F today.
Despite my griping about the cold, I was glad to get down to the marsh to check it out. It was good to get back to a warm home with all fingers & toes intact though.
The Friends of Second Marsh web site...
A direct link to a map of the paths/trails in the marsh...
A link to a page that has my past posts re the marsh, in one place rather than scattered throughout this blog...
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