Sunday, February 04, 2018

Fresh Snow!

"Snow falling soundlessly in the middle of the night will always fill my heart with sweet clarity."

― Novala Takemoto

Pheasant Branch Conservancy

Given the nasty wintery weather, I didn't think I was going to go out at all this weekend, but the snowstorm finally moved out of our area late morning. The system dumped 4 to 6 inches of new snow along with some drifting. Gusts meant a wind chill of -5 when motivation finally won over to gear up and head out for a long hike. The sun and blue skies were irresistible.

The prairie parcel was quiet, save for a female Northern Harrier that coasted over the south slope of the drumlin. Oddly, I didn't find a single American Tree Sparrow. Perhaps they're all at the Conservancy Condo feeders on account of the snow. I looked for the Northern Shrike in the dogwood patch, but it wasn't there. I noticed an adult Bald Eagle soaring overhead once I got back to the trailhead. Still, pretty quiet.

I've been hoping for a pretty snowfall on a weekend so I'd have an opportunity to do some scenic photography this winter. Perhaps we're finally over our "fake springs" and this snow will last through February. Oh! It's February! Spring is right around the corner, but this kind of weather makes it feel still so far off into the future.

And then there were songbirds...

Tufted Titmouse

Northern Cardinal

American Tree Sparrow

And more lovely redpolls!

Common Redpoll

Common Redpoll

Facing away from the trail, the Great Horned Owl was doing her best to keep her eggs warm:

Great Horned Owl

The wind was blowing snow off the conifers as I traversed the section of trail south of the overlook. I tried to photograph it, but I couldn't quite capture what appeared to be a million tiny diamonds glistening in the late afternoon sunlight. The wintery shapes, patterns, and textures visually change as I walk, but also as time goes on. Change is constant. In a few days the same walk may render a different experience―the feathered players may have the same roles, but sing from a new stage.

Pheasant Branch, Dane, Wisconsin, US
Feb 4, 2018 11:30 AM - 2:30 PM
32 species

Canada Goose
Ring-necked Pheasant
Northern Harrier
Cooper's Hawk
Bald Eagle
Red-tailed Hawk
Mourning Dove
Great Horned Owl
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Blue Jay
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
Winter Wren
American Robin
Cedar Waxwing
Lapland Longspur
American Tree Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
White-throated Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
House Finch
Common Redpoll
Pine Siskin
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

All images © 2018 Mike McDowell


  1. Stunning photos! What you wrote to sum up the experience is also beautiful.

  2. Sounds like a lovely hike, Mike. I have yet to see a redpoll this year. I love the photos of the wind-sculpted snow. Of course the birds are beautiful. That is a nice list of birds!