Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Winter Gatherings

Here at Hidden Lake a brisk snowfall gently dropped a small accumulation across a white-to-black melting landscape showing a backdrop of black tree trunks and a winding ribbon of dark gray water, curving between lighter gray ice packs and shore-lined edges of disappearing white.
As the accumulation became difficult to ignore on our deck, all the reds and grays and browns of various birds were a frenzy of feathers all wanting the choice pieces of black sunflower seeds scattered by hand and foot across the wood. 
The green small suet feeder hanging from an outside corner of our dining room cedar siding was a choice hub of pounding as well. Whichever bird has the longest bill also stays on the suet as four other species of woodpeckers await their turn after the Northern Flicker has its fill first and then flies away.
Next in line is that wonderful winter rarity: the Red-headed woodpecker. Only one of the two redheads who came regularly every day together comes alone now and often just minutes before complete darkness here after 6pm. Where does the singular beauty of this individual go all these long cold nights?
Out in the open water a lone male Mute swan spends his almost his entire day making sure all the honking Canada geese make their stay here a temporary one, chasing one and then another in low aerial circuits past our shore and around the lake in wide oval circles. What endurance to keep this going the entire day and even into the nighttime hours. After doing so, he often lands with a long skid across the ice and into the open water. I rather think he enjoys it all!
Today a large white-capped and brown bird stood alone on an ice edge, plunging with talons stretched into the dark surface water, attempting to grab an obvious morsel. The Bald eagle is not a common visitor here but I believe it comes more often than I suppose.  After sitting at the ice's edge for a short while, up come those 6 foot wings and with some effortless beats the majestic bird wings up and down the lake's edge into a large overhanging oak tree.
Also along the ever changing edge between ice and water comes a new threesome of finely detailed white, brown,black, and tan colored duck, all with feathered hoods raised as if in a show of prideful beauty. These are Hooded mergansers. Two males vying for the attention of one other not so generously colored. They circle her to show off and she tries to get around them. I first spotted their winter gathering yesterday.

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