We’ve had a rough winter in New Jersey, with well over 20 storms passing through since December. Here at the southern end of the state we’ve escaped the worst of the ice and snow, but today’s storm got us, dropping about six inches. I shoveled the front walk, the driveway was still passable without shoveling, as Ellen proved with her car. Good thing, I shouldn’t be shoveling the driveway, bad for my back.
After our snow work we went for a walk in the woods behind our house. I don’t go there most of the year because there are plenty of ticks, but in winter that’s one thing we don’t have to worry about. Ellen is well bundled.
We had rain last night before the snow, and the changeover left a thin coating on the trees, like this American Holly, which grows throughout the woods in our area. The Robins that winter here get by on the berries when the ground is covered or frozen and they can’t dig for worms.
No matter the weather, our boys Tigger and Leo want to go out on the screened porch to watch the birds and squirrels at our feeders, but this snow thing on the porch floor is an unexpected hazard.
Tigger didn’t stay out long. Leo lasted longer, dancing from one pair of feet to the other, with lots of shaking and licking the cold toes.
He did enjoy watching the birds, but before long he was at the door wanting to come back in. We stayed in the rest of the day, too.
Yesterday, after spending the morning at the Brandywine River Museum, Ellen and I drove four miles west on Route 1 to the massive estate and botanical gardens, Longwood Gardens. From spring to fall it deserves a day of its own to walk the garden paths, but in winter the Conservatory (entrance above), a huge enclosed greenhouse, is the thing to see, and from now to March 30 they have hundreds of their orchids on display. After a fine (if expensive) lunch at their restaurant, Ellen and I spent a few hours walking the many paths inside the Conservatory to see the orchids and the many other plants. A great tonic for winter weather. Continue reading
There’s an unusually large number of Snowy Owls coming down from the Arctic tundra to northern North America this winter. Some come most years, but this year it’s a major irruption (the technical term). You can read more about that HERE. Birders, of course, all want to see those cool owls, and many non-birders enjoy seeing them, too. It’s the “Harry Potter” bird now, thanks to the books and movies. I’ve been hearing about them for many weeks, and today Ellen and I finally saw one in Cape May on the chimney of an apartment complex. Hope you’ll pardon me if I don’t say exactly where. There’s been some controversy about owls being harassed by people who want to get close to them, so exact whereabouts are being kept pretty quiet. If you’re in New Jersey, the best and most reliable place to see Snowy Owls is Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, a little north of Atlantic City. A birder I spoke to today saw three there yesterday.
This particular Owl has been seen at various places around Cape May recently. We had good looks at him (probably a young male), though much of the time his head was facing away from the sun — and us. We heard that earlier he had disappeared for a while, then reappeared with a gull he’d caught, and proceeded to eat, so this bird is having no problem surviving. A resident noted he can have all the gulls he wants!
That should make him pretty happy!
Photos © Todd Klein.
Yesterday afternoon our cats Tigger and Leo were acting agitated while looking out through my sliding door at the back yard. I followed their gaze and saw an immature Cooper’s Hawk sitting on the rocks beside our small pond. It stayed there for quite a while, clearly a young bird who wanted to catch one of the songbirds coming to our feeders, but not sure how to go about it. I often wonder how many young hawks survive, they seem particularly bad at catching their prey. Probably a lot of them don’t survive. Continue reading
Photos © Todd Klein.
The weather was nice today for December, in the low 50s, sunny, and no wind, so Ellen and I went for a walk on the beachfront promenade at Sea Isle City. There’s something both beautiful and melancholy about beach towns in the winter, when places like this are almost haunted by the crowds of summer. Continue reading