There's no doubt that this winter season has started off with a huge white bang. Storm after storm has repeatedly dumped major precipitation on our area, at times making travel precarious and more than a bit hazardous. We''ve had extremely cold temperatures for this time of year and the weather is already taking a toll on the local wildlife. The snow was so deep earlier this week that it was up over the bellies of the yearling deer and squirrels have now become aboreal creatures, avoiding the ground whenever possible.
While out viewing area rivers earlier this week, we came across many wild turkeys that were walking down the plowed roadsides- they refused to fly into the deep snow, despite the oncoming traffic, and we sadly viewed a few carcasses that told the story without words. (My hubby always moves them off the road so wildlife that is drawn to the roadkill won't become roadkill as well) The same can be said for Ring-necked Pheasants and most other gamebirds. We've viewed more pheasants this past two weeks than we have most of the year- all walking down the middle/sides of roads. When snow becomes this deep, it's not only difficult for wildlife to get around, it's also difficult for them to find sources of food. When salt trucks hit the roads, large swirling flocks of Snow Buntings and others gather around the salt/grit mix hungrily. Since we're in an area where there are plenty of dairy farms that routinely spread manuer over the snowcovered fields, we're seeing good numbers of birds around these areas, especially Horned Larks. The manuer provides much needed nourishment.
We viewed the tell-tale tracks of river otters and fox and the nearby white pines held a few busy Golden-crowned Kinglets. Several Ruffed Grouse were feeding on small buds in the taller reaches of the trees that line the riverbank, and we spotted one lone Hermit Thrush. So despite the hardships, our winter-world is quite beautiful, and quite full of delightful sights and sounds. (I'm still ready for spring though!) ;)