Thursday, January 26, 2017

On the Bright Corn Snow

An Adirondack Barred Owl, seen on Moose Quest a couple of years ago

Whatever phenomenon you choose to blame for this oddly benign January, I am pretty much enjoying it. This morning the icy sleet and other forms of ultra cold water that blanketed the ground during the last storm had turned to corn snow, something we don't see terribly often and usually only in March.

It was fine to walk upon, requiring only a reasonable amount of care. Wildly stoked by the Rough-legged Hawk and Great Blue Heron I saw on one short bird walk a couple of days ago I decided to try a bit of owling. I didn't go far, just down to the Long Lawn, but out there is a whole nother world when the sun is still asleep.

I know we have Great Horned Owls, as I seem each year to find a few downy feathers where one has dived into something thorny after a bunny or a mouse. However, it is noisy  here by the house....what with all the highways...and all the best wildlife is up back in the woods. The odds of hearing or seeing one are pretty slim.

However, watching the way the faint light of false dawn and the nearby towns played on the snow and sent itself back to the sky, and listening to water trickling from the broken blind ditch, which has found an unfortunate new outlet near the compost bin...and thinking good thoughts and small prayers for friends and family members beset by illness and misfortune this season....was as rewarding as a good bird.

An Eastern Cottontail paused, momentarily mesmerized in the beam of my flashlight, which I had flicked on to see what was moving out there on the lawn. I switched it off to free him and he gamboled a few feet away before stopping to nibble on the frozen grass under the bright corn snow.

I will do a little real birding later, but Owl Quest was.....nice.....

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