Last weekend we went by the Great Horned Owl nesting site in the Whitemud Ravine. Since the beginning of March the female has been in her cavity every day with the male perching high up in a nearby pine tree. This time, however, there was not sight of the female in the cavity. It is unlikely that the female would leave her tree, particularly during the day. A quick scan of the nearby trees revealed that the male was sitting in the same spot where I saw him the previous week. It is even more unlikely that the male would be there if the female would have left the nest. I concluded that the female indeed must have been in the nest, but quite likely was hunkered down inside the cavity making it impossible to see her from the outside. Based on our experience from last year nesting it appears that the cavity is quite deep as it was able to accommodate the large female and two sizable chicks.
It is not often one is catches a chickadee just chilling. They always seem to be on the move, never stopping, never resting and never perching long enough for you to aim your camera, focus and get a good picture. Today it was my lucky day though as I encountered this fluffy little fellow just chilling on a branch. Maybe it had had its fill of sunflower seeds and then found this sunny spot where it just contently perched and watched the world go by.
At the same snow covered tree log where someone had placed sunflower seeds where yesterday’s Pine Siskin was having a snack a White-breasted Nuthatch swooped in for a quick bite as well. While the Pine Siskin took its sweet time staying put while it ate, the nuthatch had a markedly different strategy. As soon as the Pine Siskin had left the Nuthatch swooped in. It eyed the seeds, picked up one that had been hulled and took off. While the Pine Siskin was more of a sit and dine sort of bird the nuthatch was more of dash and grab type.
The Pine Siskins were out in full force today along the Whitemud creek. Despite the frigid temperature (-20 C) they were chirping away in the tree tops only taking a break to swoop down and gorge themselves on sunflower seeds. Pine Siskins are iconic winter birds in these neck of the woods and may look unassuming on first glance, but in the right light they are quite beautiful with bright yellows and olive green feathers.
Just as sudden as the spring temperatures arrived, they are gone and we are back in the deep freeze. This does not seem to stop the winter birds from making a racket through the forest. Most of them seem to be preoccupied with foraging. Nobody, however, seems too interested in these maple seed pods.
As we are inching our way out of the winter and closer to the first day of spring – which now is one week away (March 19) – some days definitely have spring in the air , but others not so much. This picture is just a few days old from the Whitemud creek right after another fresh layer of snow had fallen. A few mild days late and the snow is gone (again), but the temperatures are dropping again. It makes me wonder how plants and animals are dealing with these repeated false starts.
So in yesterday’s post the picture showed the big all terrain machines the crews are using do reconstruct the Whitemud creek after the beavers’ handiwork. Today’s picture shows what the reconstruction entails. While much of the terrain is blanketed in a fresh coat of snow one can still make out the field of boulders that now line the left bank of the creek. This is the outside of the meander where the erosion is the highest. It appears that shrubs have been planted along the base of the boulder field, likely to stabilize the slope further. In the pat I have seen lots of beaver activity along this stretch of the creek. It is going to be interesting to see how the beavers will take this change to the scenery.