Sunday, February 09, 2014

Winter's Grip!

Winter's grip on southern Wisconsin remains strong, yet there are phenological hints and cues serving as signs that spring isn't too far off. They may be subtle, but they don't go unnoticed by the naturalist. At Pheasant Branch Conservancy, Northern Cardinals are singing and beginning to establish and defend territories.

Cedar berries

Since the winter solstice, the length of day has increased about an hour and ten minutes. That's real progress isn't it? Still, even when the sun has reached solar noon, the shadows remain very long. We're definitely earning spring this winter season. It's been a long time since I've experienced a winter as harsh as this one. I've seen more snow, but not such constant bitter cold. I've gotten so used to below-zero temperatures that 10 degrees Fahrenheit doesn't feel all that bad!

The creek corridor

Northern Cardinal

Many songbirds frequent the little springs near the Conservancy Condos, but this morning a Cooper's Hawk was perched nearby. Four White-throated Sparrows were perched in the tangle just above the water keeping a sharp lookout. An American Robin was there, too, preening its feathers after having taken a bath in the comparatively warm water. The hawk flushed when some other people walked by, giving the songbirds a little respite.

White-throated Sparrow

American Robin

I came upon a Tufted Titmouse that was perched perfectly still while absorbing warmth from the sun. Looking at it through my spotting scope, I could see it breathing. I anticipated it would likely stretch its wings before taking flight. And so it did!

Tufted Titmouse

Pheasant Branch, Dane, US-WI
Feb 9, 2014 9:00 AM - 12:30 PM
25 species

Canada Goose
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Great Horned Owl
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
American Kestrel
Blue Jay
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
American Robin
European Starling
American Tree Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

All images © 2014 Mike McDowell

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful. While I often find myself retreating from the cold this winter, there is something comforting and familiar in the unrelenting snow and frigid temps...these are the sorts of the winters that defined my childhood...a familiar Wisconsin winter that is has become all too infrequent.