I’m mindful of migrating waterfowl and have been searching surface waters for an interesting subject. Needless to say, snow, frigid temperatures and the return of ice have made that close to impossible. Of late, I’ve spent more time in my “truck blind” than afield.
Mallards in a snow storm
Canada geese on ice
Hooded mergansers on a precious spot of open water
Many of my posts are linked, directly or indirectly, to the elaborate water transportation system engineered in New York State in the 19th century. The network of canals, reservoirs, feeder canals and associated wetlands that once transformed the movement of coal, agricultural products and people across New York and Pennsylvania are now critical wildlife and outdoor recreation resources that define the Central New York region.
Wood Duck on the Chenango Canal
A small section of the Chenango Canal (originally a 97 mile long feeder to the Erie Canal that operated from 1836 to 1877), has stood the test of time. It is now listed on the National and New York State Registry of Historic Places. The massive, chiseled stones in this aqueduct provide a vivid historical perspective: Immigrant workers from Ireland and Scotland, aided by mules, oxen and horses, built the entire canal by hand. At the height of the construction, there were 500 laborers per section, toiling for $11.00 a month.
The remains of a 19th century aqueduct on the Chenango Canal
A bright, sunny Valentine’s Day arrived after our latest snowstorm. More snow was on the way, so I had a brief window of opportunity to capture the beauty of a snow-covered landscape in sunshine and shadow.
My search ended with this scene, a small stream meandering through a swampy wetland. Unfortunately, the image is incomplete: I couldn’t capture the surreal peace and calm associated with this beautiful place.
Deer in this area have yet to be physically stressed by deep snow. However, more snow is on the way and the availability of palatable food resources will soon reach an annual low. In response, deer can be seen searching for food around the clock, especially in habitats where concentrated food sources like standing corn are absent.
Deer searching for waste grain in a snow-covered field
Deer tend to throw caution to the wind and frequent bird feeders when natural foods are scarce. This one, young and curious, investigated our backyard bird feeders this afternoon. Two or three others, less tolerant of human activity, will visit in darkness.