Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A Frightfully Frigid Winter Interlude

Winter is becoming a bit freaky across the country creating whirlwinds of bone-chilling chaos and disasters in many states.

Here, icicles dangling like dangerous claws, can be likened to imaginary bars of winter's bitter prison blocking healing warmth. 

Pruning will fill up much of February and March if days warm enough to hold pole clippers and saws.

What was I thinking to plant a climbing hydrangea on the beautiful Shagbark Hickory . . . a good trim here and there will open to view some of the striking textured bark. Still, winter does reveal the beauty of this marriage. It is summer when the groovy Shagbark is lost to me. Lichen alters another tree's bark, as noted in the distance, on a sound and solid oak.

Bearing up to the cold, resident buteos choose cherry and oak, standing tall within the north and easterly fields, as their lookout perches. A juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk eyes the frozen solid ground, and the human not too far away within warm barn-studio walls.

The Red-shouldered Hawk feels uncomfortable with my presence and so takes flight towards the forest and river below.

Our more frequently viewed buteo, sighted just a few minutes after the Red-shouldered flew off, prefers the distance of an oak firmly holding along the eastwardly slope. Red-tailed Hawks are always welcome by this community member but not so appreciated by most birds of our habitat.

Red-tailed Hawk 

I am never surprised to see crows, blue jays and even hummers and tree swallows chasing buteos. New Year's Eve day showed me yet another bird or flock of birds in chase of a hawk. Cedar Waxwings are barely visible in the top tier of the oak the Red-tailed Hawk is also occupying.

A closer look above and their shapes become perceptible but not their mood for only moments after this shot, and too quick for my capture, about twenty or so waxwings were in hot pursuit of the Red-tailed Hawk.

Soon, after the chase, the Cedar Waxwings began doing what waxwings are most often seen in pursuit of . . .  harvesting and gulping down little crabapples. I did not know they had such pluck to chase a hawk away.

I am shooting through a glass pane and still cannot escape the watchful wary eye of at least one of the waxwings. 

The crabapples are delicious and nutritious treats . . . with or without snow cream. 

Another winter surprise is the sighting of a Carolina Wren . . . I had no idea they overwinter here and have been told, by a serious ornithologist, that if it gets too cold the wrens will just die, for they will not think to fly further south. This little fellow already made it through the minus 13 F night a bit ago. It is about 4 degrees Fahrenheit right now, as I write, and I do wonder how this Carolina Wren is keeping warm. I hope homeless folks too are able to find safe shelters in order to stay warm throughout this chilling winter spell. 

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