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afghan2

In addition to sitting by the fire, keeping warm and reading, I’ve passed winter hours with a few crochet projects. I started the granny square afghan, above, while riding on the train during out September trip to Vancouver. That’s Arthur, admiring the finished product.

rainbow2

This rainbow afghan was a gift for the newest addition to our family, granddaughter Coralie. The primary-colour rainbow pattern is a favorite of her mom.

rainbow1

Coralie seems to approve too. Here she is, giving it the baby taste-test.

And finally, here’s another patchwork-style afghan, which I just finished this weekend. That’s Buddy relaxing and enjoying a little wash in the afternoon sun.

afghan

snowbuntings

Snow Buntings

 

We think of migratory birds flying south to Florida or Central America, but for some birds, this is the south they migrate to for the winter. Snow Buntings (Plectrophenax nivalis) breed in the far north on rocky tundra, but winter across central North America. As I drive along country roads, it’s not uncommon to see flocks of Snow Buntings fly up in a rush from the roadside as the car approaches. This flock was foraging farther into a field and when they didn’t take flight, I had the opportunity to record them with this photograph. These birds are sporting their winter plumage, with buff and black points. You’ll find more information about Snow Buntings linked here.

sitter

Stair Sitter

 

Winter Sightings

garden

Halfway through February! We are well along on our journey through winter. Every day, the sun sets a little later and it is cheering to still have daylight at six in the evening. Still, the view out the front door is daunting. It is hard to believe that the July garden, pictured below, is just a few months away.

garden2

This annual transformation from green abundance to snowy slumber, and then back again, is like a miracle, amazing to observe. Still, in February, the snowy days drag on relentlessly.

snowlevel

I went out and measured the snow depth in one of the passageways cleared by the snowblower. We have about 16 to 18 inches of snow right now. Certainly, the plants will be glad of this deep blanket because temperatures have been brutal, with a frosty wind making -20C and lower temperatures even more biting.

bluejays

Another annual miracle is that tiny birds can survive these punishing temperatures. I stock the bird feeders daily, and in return, I am rewarded with a view of their comings and goings. I put out peanuts, both shelled and unshelled, and large stiped sunflower seed for the blue jays. They watch for me, and when I venture out to the feeder, a shriek goes up. With a whirl of wings, a flock of these noisy, clamourous, beautiful birds descends upon the feeder.

chickadees

A steady stream of busy chickadees attends to the two silo feeders stocked with black oiled sunflower seed. I often fill these feeders twice in a day to meet demand.

birds

A mixed seed combination attracts a variety of birds to the platform feeder and the driveway. There are American Tree sparrows, juncos, redpolls, goldfinches, mourning doves and a few cardinals. Adding a few crusts of bread attracts a pair of crows, who, like the blue jays, watch for my arrival.

pileated

A pair of suet feeders attract a number of Downy and Hairy woodpeckers, but recently we had a first: a visit from a large Pileated Woodpecker.

owl

Last winter, there was an unusual movement of Snowy Owls south of their usual range. This year, I have spotted just one, this female, perhaps the same one that I saw last year, who favors the top of a hydro post to look out over the fields.

animals3

Animal activity is not so conspicuous. However, I did see this trio of muskrats early in the winter, just before the river froze over for the season.

ermine

This unfortunate short-tailed weasel, dressed in an ermine-white winter coat, was found on the driveway one morning. These little carnivours are reportedly quite common in Ontario, but it is unusual to see one. They travel and hunt mostly at night, in areas with good cover, where they seek out small prey such as mice and voles, amphibians and bird eggs or nestlings. They are reputed to be fearsome, fierce hunters.

coyote2

My most surprising sighting of the winter was this coyote. I spotted it one day as I was driving home along the St. Lawrence River. It was far out on the ice, looking back to shore. As I watched, it made up its mind to travel on, and set out across the frozen water, leaving Canada and heading toward the American shore.

coyote1

evening

Serene Evening

 

window

Winter Window

 

steamfog

Steam Fog

 

Steam fog, also called sea smoke (or in this case, river smoke) or frost smoke, is formed when very cold air mixes with a shallow layer of saturated warmer air over a body of water. As the warmer air is cooled beyond the dew point, it can no longer hold as much water vapour, and the excess condenses out, producing a steam or smoke effect. On a recent very cold January day, I snapped this photograph of a smoking St. Lawrence River.

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