The weather has been unseasonably warm, much like the rest of the USA, except for Alaska. The temperatures here on Shelter Island have been in the 30s for much of the last four to five weeks and is teasing the wildlife.
We have seen raccoon tracks indicating that they are coming out of hibernation. One climbed up onto our second story porch on Wednesday to look for bread crumbs we had put out for the chickadees.
Our chickadees started gathering nesting materials, so we hung a wedding gift that we received last fall.
Last Monday we had two visitors arrive early to our bay –
They didn’t stay around for very long, which didn’t surprise us. We don’t have that many fish in the bay and there are not the marshy grasses that they like to tuck themselves into. They generally nest a few bays down the shore, but it’s frozen up right now.
Initially Hugh thought they were tundra swans, but when he pulled out our newest bird book, The Crossley ID Guide, which is fabulous!, we quickly realized that the distinctive orange bill indicated these swans as being mute swans. (If you’re a birder, check this book out – Richard Crossley has created an amazing bird identification guide that shows multiple images of each species in their natural habitat. It’s not the old Peterson-type field guide.)
Early last summer, when I was volunteering on the Schooner Manitou in Traverse City, MI, I had the chance to get a few nice pictures of a pair with their cygnets.
But the winter still blows and the snow and temperatures still fall. Enough that I can find a few glimpses of winter’s beauty.
And there is enough snow to find tracks of coyote as I walk to work.
I love winter so much.
When visitors come they quite often ask, “How long does snow stick around?”
“Funny you should ask,” we say regardless of the time of the year. “We still have some. Would you like to see it?”
We then hand them a plastic container from the freezer, full of the previous winter’s snow.
This year it has been disappointingly warm. There have not been the deep long days and nights of sub-freezing temperatures so the shoreline has been almost devoid of ice. Last year it extended a good ten to twenty feet into the lake. Not this year. From now until the last remnant of snow melts, I’m going to enjoy it as much as possible.
I should go fill up my container with this year’s snow before it’s all gone, for good.