Sunday, January 31, 2016

Dark Water in Winter

I'm endlessly fascinated by the relatively rare (in Minnesota) sight of unfrozen water in wintertime. The contrast to the snow on the banks makes the water look so dark and mysterious, and the bare trees are beautiful when reflected. My friend Adele and I went for a walk on Saturday and I captured these scenes.

In the first photo, you may be able to see a group of mallards at the back.

As my friend Adele and I looked down at this next bit of the creek on Saturday, it almost looked like a summertime scene where skimming insects leave constant dimples and ripples on the water -- but this was late January, so insects weren't a possibility. We soon realized that there was very fine drizzle, which we hadn't noticed until then, making the drop marks on the water.

This next one is a crop of the photo above. Click the photo to see the larger version showing the many overlapping ripple marks.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Watching Birds on Winter's Coldest Morning

It was about -15 F. when I spent some time watching birds at our feeders and in nearby trees this morning. Our coldest days tend to be cloud-free, so the light was good. Since I take many of my feeder photos through my living room window, I do some color correcting afterward to take away the dullness that the window and its glare can impart.

I love female cardinals. This one's red eyebrow is illuminated, matching her beautiful red bill. She's accompanied at the feeder by a goldfinch and, barely visible, a house finch.

This female white-breasted nuthatch caught my eye because, unusually, she was head-up on the trunk of our big maple tree, rather than upside down as one usually sees nuthatches. She's well-fluffed for maximum insulation from the cold.

This male house finch is also doing a puffball imitation to keep warm.

And this bright-eyed chickadee sat in the same position for quite a while. Was he or she miserable in the cold, or doing just fine? Our northern birds seem to handle the cold remarkably well, Here is a good overview from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology of some of the ways birds cope with severe cold, which include not only fluffing up those down feathers but eating as much as possible and sheltering from the wind.