Scanning the Stubble

Certain that the arrival of cold, wind and snow would lead to sightings of migrating snow geese in fields, I’ve kept a watchful eye on proven habitats: harvested corn fields. Crows, Canada geese and barren landscapes have been the rule; no snow geese to date.

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Crows in the stubble

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Wild Canada geese on a dairy farm

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Pasture tree in a storm

Photos by NB Hunter. ©All Rights Reserved.

Snowy Highlights, Feb. 2017

Most of our snow will be gone by the end of the week. There will be more, but I feel the need to post these wonderful winter snow scenes while they’re still fresh in my memory!

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Harvested corn field in winter

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Eastern Wild Turkey foraging for waste grain

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Spring-fed stream and geese, with a mature oak tree in the center

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Groundhog emerging from hibernation, 20Feb2017

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Woodland trail after a heavy, wet snow

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Young whitetail doe

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Small woodland stream, framed by mature hemlocks and sugar maples

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Mourning doves taking flight

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Woodland trail in sunshine and shadow

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A shed deer antler exposed by melting snow

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

 

The Color of Winter

We have four months of winter; I enjoy three of them. The earthy colors and vivid contrasts of uncluttered winter landscapes can be very appealing, even spectacular. Winter also affords us the opportunity to observe the behavior and coping mechanisms of resident birds and mammals as they struggle to find sufficient food and cover amidst dwindling resources. The “dormant” winter season is far from static; there’s a lot going on, and much to learn. I’ll share a few winter highlights from Central New York, captured in January, 2017.

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Northern cardinal foraging for grain near a backyard feeder

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Eastern wild turkeys searching for waste grain

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Round bales on a foggy winter morning

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Black-capped chickadee in a lake-effect snow storm

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Hilltop panoramic view of farms and woodlands

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American crow foraging on waste grain

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Morning sunlight on the Chenango River 

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Red-bellied woodpecker feasting on a commercial suet block

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Wild Turkeys in Early Winter

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In the snow belt of the North, agricultural lands provide critical winter habitat for wild turkeys. Not just any corn field or weedy fence row will do however. These large birds  – one of the largest in North America – also need spacious areas with a mixture of grain fields; mature woodlands; large evergreen cover and sheltered, southern exposures. Fields with spread cow manure are a welcome addition to the mix too.

With only a few inches of snow on the ground, our turkeys are unimpeded in their search for concentrated food sources. Flocks ranging from a few birds to 50 or more are often seen in the middle of the day walking, talking and “scratching” across farm fields.

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Waste grain in harvested corn fields is a staple (fortunately, the geese didn’t consume all of it in the fall).

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Bursts of “lake effect” snow often trigger intense feeding. Accumulating snow could eliminate this high energy food source in a matter of hours – and the birds know that.

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

 

 

The Winter Solstice

“We cannot stop the winter or the summer from coming. We cannot stop the spring or the fall or make them other than they are. They are gifts from the universe that we cannot refuse. But we can choose what we will contribute to life when each arrives.”     – Gary Zukavteasel16dec168647e5c8x10

“How many lessons of faith and beauty we should lose, if there were no winter in our year!”             – Thomas Wentworth Higginson

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“Kindness is like snow – it beautifies everything it covers.”     – Kahlil Gibran

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“There is a privacy about it which no other season gives you. In spring, summer and fall people sort of have an open season on each other; only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself.” ― Ruth Stout

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“It is the life of the crystal, the architect of the flake, the fire of the frost, the soul of the sunbeam. This crisp winter air is full of it.”     – John Burroughs

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“When snow falls, nature listens.”     – Antoinette van Kleef

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“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”            ― John Steinbeck

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“Winter, a lingering season, is a time to gather golden moments, embark upon a sentimental journey, and enjoy every idle hour.”     – John Boswell

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Photos by NB Hunter; taken in Central New York in December, 2016 © All Rights Reserved.

Patterns in the Stubble

Most of our corn fields have been harvested and miles of tawny stubble now dominate rural landscapes. The dormant fields are exposed, as are the flocks of birds searching for waste grain to fatten up for winter or migratory flights. Where fields occur near surface waters, large flocks of foraging geese are an inescapable landscape element.

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Rainy Days

Wind, rain and dark skies have settled in, arriving at the tail end of a beautiful display of flaming foliage in the countryside. I’m searching for the silver lining — while monitoring storm water and the erosion control practices on my woodlot.

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Photos by NB Hunter. All Rights Reserved.