A Winter Wonderland in January, 2019

Snowstorms, wind and bitter cold can greatly reduce wildlife sightings in our winter landscapes. Wildlife numbers reach an annual low, most surface waters freeze, and  animals conserve energy by moving less and living in sheltered habitats. Adding to the difficulty of wildlife viewing in winter is the ethical constraint that demands minimum disturbance of animals that are trying to survive four or five months of resource scarcity.

Sometimes I respond to the challenges of winter by photographing wildlife around backyard feeders, then shifting my focus to landscapes when out and about. Such was the case most of this month.

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Wave ice on a partially frozen pond

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The peace, quiet and virgin landscape that follow a heavy snow create the illusion of  the isolation and solitude associated with a wildland journey

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With the right perspective, blue skies dress up surface waters, adding color to otherwise monochromatic scenes

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Over time, spring water seeping and freezing over a limestone rock face takes on a life of its own

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A favorite cattail marsh, the tussocks accented with a blanket of deep, fluffy snow

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A small, nondescript creek morphs into a thing of beauty when buried in snow

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The visual effects of subzero temperatures and morning sun on local waters

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Dense vegetation along a fence row, performing double duty: wildlife habitat and wind reduction; these are drifts on the lee side (1 of 2 images)

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Powdery snow, blown and drifted across corn stubble on the lee side of a brushy fence row

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The sentinel: An old, battered sugar maple tree that refuses to concede to wind, snow, ice, salt and grazing cattle. She still sparkles in a coating of frost.

Photos by NB Hunter (January, 2019). © All rights reserved.

 

 

35 thoughts on “A Winter Wonderland in January, 2019

  1. Breathtakingly beautiful images of a landscape that couldn’t be further from my own environment, where we are enduring the driest summer for thirty years and our daily temperatures reach between 32 and 42 degrees Celsius!

    • Thanks Anne. Sorry to hear about your weather extremes. The ecological impacts of conditions that severe must be devastating, with long-term effects. Hope things soon change for the better.

    • Wow! Thanks for that, Mary. Now I’m motivated to follow up—–if these nasty winter rains go away. This weather must be hard on wildlife, especially songbirds. This morning I discovered a bunny sheltering in the garage and saw no birds at the feeders. I’m usually greeted by 2 or 3 dozen – juncos, cardinals, doves, etc. – at first light. Disturbing.

  2. “The peace, quiet and virgin landscape that follow a heavy snow create the illusion of the isolation and solitude associated with a wildland journey”
    You’ve captured my favorite feelings of newly fallen snow. Beautiful story, Nick.

    • Thanks Liz. In recent years our winters have been a roller coaster ride, fluctuating between snow and cold rain. Winter residents are well adapted to cold and snow – songbirds fluffing their feathers at night, grouse roosting under the snow where temps are moderated, birds and mammals sheltering in holes and tree cavities, etc. But, I don’t think the same can be said for adaptation to cold, freezing rain. That is a real concern of mine.

  3. Each photo captures something so special and transporting. The beauty is awesome but so is the cold! Tough times for animals, birds and other creatures – and humans too. It is hard to believe that even well-adapted creatures can survive so many months of such cold and limited resources.

    • Thanks. I like the term “transporting” because that describes many of my winter experiences very well. Early winter isn’t too bad. Most wildlife have fat reserves and good habitats continue to provide food and cover. It is late winter that defines carrying capacity as survival of the fittest comes into play and populations reach an annual low.

  4. Yes! I’ve found and photographed them on 3 occasions, starting with an “irruption” into the Northeast in 2014-2015. If you go to the Search box on my blog and type Snowy Owl I think you’ll see some of my favorites. Every nature lover should have a chance to see these magnificent birds of prey!

  5. Stunning photos, Nick, and I enjoyed the descriptions too. I like the unique scenes of the cattail marsh and the limestone rock, but the fluffy snow and creek scenes were much appreciated too.

  6. Only one thing rivals the beauty of snow in natural settings: watching it fly out of my snow thrower at 1 or 2 cubic feet per second in man-made settings!

    You have an uncommon eye for nature, and pleasant comments and descriptions for the images, helping put us there beside you. Thanks for your work.

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