Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Birds Of Winter

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

When Winny the Pooh and friends mentioned a blustery day it may have been fall, not winter, and their discussion occurred on Winds-day not Tuesday like today, but here on the mountain there is still no shortage of wind. It's still too dark to see the size of the snow drifts but the wind has not given up since last night's strong bursts. My anemometer is hanging at 11 mph and only slows to 4 for brief periods. A trip outside to empty wood stove ashes made me return to look up a wind chill chart and rub my hands together despite a pair of gloves. Karl the Wonder Dog came out for a brief visit, turned quickly and went back to bed. No "outside" for him yet.

Yesterday was a "stay inside day" and save for plowing the driveways and gassing up the truck again, we all stayed inside. The wind was brutal and even layered clothing doesn't avoid the possibility of frost bite with those winds. I noticed a group heading out for cross country skiing at the Martin Covered Bridge outside Plainfield village but they all wore face masks, and each dressed in black which seemed odd, a highly noticeable contrast to clouds of white snow.

The birds of winter interest me. The snow buntings are still here but only four remain now. They entertain me the way they scoot across the snow looking for small seeds. I would love to hear their voices but they only speak during mating season in the arctic tundra, far distant from Vermont. It would be fun to hear one say "I love you."

For days I have been seeing my favorite pine grosbeaks (up top) and they have been to our feeders only once earlier this season. Yesterday as the snow deepened, they appeared again, numbering six, then eight and then leaving. They are late this year as they usually arrive to eat the sargentii crab apples but flocks of robins and our wild turkey population took care of those much earlier in fall.

Blue jays are everywhere and they are noisy, wasteful, arrogant, bullying birds. I never understand what they are talking about but they come each morning within minutes of me spreading new food. I keep looking for a frequent visitor last year who had an injured wing but haven't seen him yet. I hope he is fine as he displayed strong courage.

If you aren't into house plants and gardening magazines and shows to get you through winter, consider birds. Cornell University has a great site to get you started. Bird feeding is no longer cheap but the entertainment is worth it.

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where the rising sun has dropped the temperature to 3.9. I can see that the snow fence along the back walk was once again worth the time to put up.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm
Forever using social networking because it works!

No comments: