Lots of birds have enjoyed our feeders this winter. The feeders are set up so we can see them from our main windows throughout the day. A tiny Northern Pygmy-Owl has been terrorizing the even tinier Common Redpolls. Red Crossbills (yes, their bills are crossed) show up most every day and there is, occasionally an American Goldfinch. Most years we have lots of goldfinches and House Finches but not this year.
On days when the temperature gets up to freezing and the sun is shining the honeybees will work at cleaning out their hives. It seems so strange to see dead bees in the snow. It’s supposed to be a good thing – an indicator that the live bees are keeping things tidy in there.
We had a tree-climbing expert come in and install a new nest box from Nice Nests, high up in our biggest dead ponderosa pine tree. Hopefully the kestrel that was here earlier in the winter will return and raise some young birds in it next summer.
American Kestrel nest box
Common Redpolls and Pine Siskin
Here it is February already – more than a month into the new year. Time goes by so quickly. I made lots of images last month and finally got around to editing them.
We continue to get lots of snow and it is deep and perfect for winter activities. Ken’s brother stayed for a few days and tried his AT gear and his snowboard on the hill above us. It really made me want to get some back country skis.
Some days have had snow falling all day long and others have been brilliantly sunny. The frost and icicles have been amazing. Of course, we’ve had our share of shoveling. A friend gifted us his used snowblower and it was just in time. We were nearly overwhelmed with the amount of work. And then we had to have a big front loader come in and move the big berms left by the plow guy.
Here is a sampling of images from around our hillside.
Ken watching from below
frosty serviceberry leaves hanging on
It’s deep out there
You think this is deep? Now you can’t even see the window!
The river below us
Yesterday Juliet and I went birding in the Conconully and Okanogan Highlands regions of our county. Birding was slow with not a lot of active birds around but the light on the snow-covered hills was enough to make us stop repeatedly and comment about the beauty that lay before us.
We were surprised to find a Yellow-rumped Warbler along the Okanogan river and closed out our birding day watching a Short-eared Owl hunting at dusk.
I wonder if this is a type of sun dog?
The Okanogan Highlands offer endless vistas
A glorious sunset before we had to go down into the fog-filled valley
And at the end of the day we were wowed by the same sort of colors we saw early in the morning when we descended from the Loup into the Okanogan Valley
After two years of lower than average snowfall, this season we are happy to see lots of snow on the ground with more on the way. We rang in the New Year with below zero temperatures and clear skies and glimpses of northern lights. I enjoyed time with our friends and did not try to get photos on that frigid night!
The skiing on groomed trails is wonderful and up until this week, skiing in the hills and backcountry has been marvelous! It made me wish I had some more rugged skis with skins for climbing the hills. A few days ago the temperature warmed over thirty degrees and it felt downright balmy at 34° Fahrenheit. Of course, that sort of ruined the two feet of powder snow, leaving a one inch crust on top of it. It makes it very hard to get around once you are off the beaten path. Even for dogs but Sky seems to manage.
Speaking of dogs, Luna had to have surgery last week to remove a cracked tooth and an unusual growth on her side. The growth is benign so we can quit worrying about that. Whew. She has had to be less active and is missing her dog friends and skiing at Big Valley but the stitches need to time to heal. Hopefully in another week or so she can resume her regular fun activities.
Winters can be hard on the native birds so we put out black oil sunflower seeds, nyger seeds and suet for the songbirds. That also attracts raptors like hawks and kestrels who might try to take advantage of the situation. We figure that they all need to eat and are happy to see the diversity of species.
Frost on the snow
We’ve grown a few pretty impressive icicles!
Classic skiing above Pearrygin lake
So nice to be among live ponderosa pines!
More new Snow
Sometimes Sky has a hard time finding sticks with all this snow cover
Sky normally sits up straighter than that.
When will we get cookies?
Common Redpoll and American Goldfinch
This American Kestrel is pretty efficient at hunting Mourning Doves
Female juvenile Northern Goshawk
She’s probably hitting the Mourning Doves pretty hard too.
We already have a good layer of snow on the ground – enough to last us most of the winter, I imagine. And today it’s snowing some more. We had a nice walk in the white stuff while Ken got out his classic skis to make some trails around our hill. It’s a nearly black and white world around here.
Look! I found a new stick!
Oh look, there’s Ken!
Are you taking all that home with you Luna?