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Tag Archives: winter

Last month, as we longed for 2020 to end, I was inspired to put up a 2020 Christmas tree in the snow. It was a dead, burned pine from the 2014 fire. It had finally fallen over and I dragged it home through the snow and set it up where I could see it from the house. I even put a few decorations on it. It still stands out there. We also had a lovely evergreen inside the house.

Two days ago, as the dogs and I returned from a walk, I noticed something new in my tree. Not any bigger than my fist, it was a Northern Pygmy Owl. We were going to have to walk near it to get in the house and I was surprised that it didn’t leave its perch even though we were barely social distancing. My camera was inside ready for this moment. I have seen a pygmy owl here a couple of times in the last month and had hoped for a good opportunity to photograph it. Many others are seeing them here in the valley. I wonder if there is a bit of a pygmy owl irruption this winter? Last year I did not see any. Yesterday I saw one from the ski trail and couple weeks ago, I saw one while walking in the hills across the valley.

I saw it again late yesterday afternoon as dense fog rolled in. It was perched in a live pine with a fine view of the bird feeders. These tiny owls generally weigh less than 2 1/2 ounces and are ferocious predators, sometimes taking California Quail and Northern Flickers. The Cornell Lab has more info on Northern Pygmy Owls here.

 

Yesterday was just lovely! Blue skies, new snow, sparkles everywhere. New snow makes the world seem fresh again.

The dogs have been enjoying the weather recently. Nights are very cold and in the morning the snow is firm enough to support their weight. Mine too. Daytime temperatures are well into the forties so all in all, it’s a lovely time to be out and about!

The weather is notorious for being gray this time of year and sometimes, there’s just not enough snow for it to really seem like winter despite the cold. And once the highway closes for the winter, it is hard to get above the thick layer of clouds into the sunshine. These photos are from earlier in the month at Washington Pass before the highway closed. We were not alone. Lots of folks were skiing and walking and playing with dogs and everyone was happy, especially the dogs. Someone asked if my dogs were puppies. They sure act like puppies sometimes.

American Kestrels are the smallest falcons in North America. This tiny raptor has a wingspan of 22 inches and weighs 4.1 ounces. It eats small mammals, insects and today it ate a finch from our feeder. This bird is a male because of the blue on its wings. It was minus four this morning before the sun came out. Normally this bird has a sleek appearance but it fluffed its feathers in order to keep warm.

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