Ol’ Man Winter’s Last Gasp?

We had five or six inches of snowfall from yesterday’s storm (sigh). All in all, we haven’t had a bad winter, but I’m tired of the cold and snow and wish spring would get on with it. Here’s some pictures from my walk today. Beautiful, yes, but I’m hoping Ol’ Man Winter is packing his bags and heading out of town!

View through the valley of the Short Hills

View through the valley of the Short Hills

Autumn in the wetland by the brook

female cardinal

A female Northern Cardinal and Dark-eyed Juncos

Seadheads from last year's ironweed

Seadheads from last year’s ironweed

The beehives

The beehives

Path down to the back field

Path down to the back field

Are you as ready for spring as I am?

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First snow

A couple of days ago, we had our first snow of the season. The precipitation started as an icy mix, but quickly changed over to snow. Activity at the bird feeders had been high all morning so I knew the storm was coming. Birds have a special middle-ear receptor called the Vitali organ, which can sense even small changes in barometric pressure. By the time snow began falling, dozens of birds had converged on the feeders.

Dozens of birds
female cardinal

A Yellow-bellied sapsucker, a bird I saw quite a bit last year, but not so far this year, showed up at the suet feeder – I guess his natural food sources had been adequate until now, but the snowstorm had pushed him to come to the feeder.
Yellow-bellied sapsucker

The feeding continued heavily throughout the day as multitudes of birds jockeyed for position at the feeders or waited below to gobble up whatever fell to the ground. It was fascinating to watch the pecking order in action as bigger birds dominated smaller birds, males dominated females, and females dominated younger birds.

Still, it was clear that two Northern blue jays were at the top of the pecking order, at least for the time being. They chased off other birds and grabbed chunks of suet and sunflower seeds, eating them on a nearby branch or flying off to cache them.
Northern blue jay

Cardinals are often the last birds I hear at dusk after the other birds have gone up to roost, their lonely chip calls piercing the quiet of the evening. By now, the other birds were gone, but this solitary male stayed until darkness forced him to leave.
Northern cardinal

Moments later, all the birds were gone. Not a sound could be heard and the only movement was the softly falling snow.
IMG_1971

Each moment of the year has its own beauty, a picture which was never before and shall never be seen again.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Winter as seen through the eyes of my fellow bloggers

Sometimes winter can seem gray and dreary, but as the old saying goes, beauty really is in the eyes of the beholder. There is subtle beauty to be seen even in the starkness of winter if we take the time to look closely at the landscape around us. We see it in the splash of red of the cardinal, the sparkle and shimmer of frost on a withered leaf, the play on the light of frost and sunlight, or the exquisite design of a single snowflake.

Some of the most visually stunning photographs of winter scenes I’ve ever seen appeared over the past few weeks in the posts of fellow bloggers – and that’s what inspired me to do this post! I obtained permission from four nature photographers in my little corner of the blogosphere to use their exceptional portraits of winter to showcase the season’s beauty. I hope you enjoy them and they inspire you to get outside and see more of what nature has to offer.

Snö på torkade blommor stor

“The never ending snow”
Take a walk on the wild side

Comforting

“Comfort and Joy”
Life in the Bogs

Frosty tree

“Frosty Tree”
Still Life and Silence

SerenityOfNature
“Serenity of Nature”
Photo Nature Blog

Snowy tree trunks
“The never ending snow”
Take a walk on the wild side

Mr. Cardinal watches as the snow starts to fall.
“Beautiful blizzard”
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