Our region has seen single digit temperatures, ice, snow and flash freezing. OK, it is January, a winter month, but still this is far too cold for this area and I think we are in shock. I have kept the bird feeders full, as they are emptying them almost within an hour of being filled. Same goes for the suet cakes hanging in the trees.
My yard is full of evidence of nightly visitors, deer tracks, fox tracks, raccoon and opossum. That is the opossum track to the left, notice the tail drag in the middle. Their ears and tails are naked, getting frostbitten on nights like these. They crisscross and circle in search of food and shelter from the bruising cold winds and frigid Arctic air. I always loved tracking in the woods after it has snowed. So many stories are written on the glistening surface just waiting for someone to read them.
It snowed considerably the first year I worked as a Park Naturalist in Rock Creek. And my first journey into the woods was amazing. I remember walking deep into the hickory oak forest and finding a small pile of Red Shouldered Hawk feathers on the ground, the snow spotted with blood. As I looked around I noticed another grouping of feathers about 12 feet away, and then another. And here and there the wing prints of a large bird, one who had landed with its prey, plucked for a while before taking off again with its heavy load. Further and further I tracked until I finally found my culprit. A great horned owl’s nest, high in a dead white oak tree, the base of which was strewn with owl pellets and fresh feathers. I stood in awe of such a majestic and efficient predator. A silent killer whose wings were capable of carrying a meal almost its own size, a shark of the skies where everything was considered fair game, including other owls. I stood there for a while until throughly chilled, picked up a feather and owl pellet and headed back to the nature center, memorizing my path as I went. I knew I would return there to check for owlets in another month or so and to see what other prey the Great Horned Owl had found. This adventure cemented my love for raptors and owls in particular.
This week a Snowy Owl appeared in downtown Washington, DC. It appeared unconcerned that it stopped all traffic, vehicle and foot, as people gazed on in amazement. How marvelous….
The cold is lingering into this coming week, a perfect time for reading a book or two or three. Here are the books I reviewed this week.
Monday, Jan. 27: The Dreamer by M. King
Tuesday, Jan. 28: The Fall by Kate Sherwood
Wed., Jan. 29: Long Time Gone (Hell or High Water #2) by SE Jakes
Thurs., Jan. 30: Refined Instincts by SJ Frost
Friday, Jan. 31: January 2014 Best Covers and Book Review Summary
Sat., Feb. 1: Bloody Love Spats by Valentina Heart