Sunday, October 11, 2009

Too Early Winter

It warmed up enough for icicles to drip near the back entry and from the front porch roof.

Teasel gobbled her "tea" and finished up for those who were hesitating. She is now sleeping off her excesses, opening a bleary blue eye when I suggested that she has over-eaten and considerably "stretched" her stripes.

The Flicker's tree

Juncos bouncing under the bird feeder.

This one has a pink-gold blush on the sides which suggests it is an Oregon Junco. We may also have the "slate-colored" race here or variants of the two groups.

Dirty icicles still hang from the truck, which has been inside the garage since our return on Friday afternoon. The running boards are treacherously ice-covered.

I hung out towels on the porch line, had to put them in the dryer to finish.

The cats have become bored with the misty landscape beyond the windows and decided in the wee hours of Friday morning to do some landscaping of their own. Prime suspects are the kittens, Jemima and Chester, probably encouraged by their father, Charlie.

Another morning wrapped in grey snow clouds. A half-hearted sun struggled through for a few hours then gave up and retreated. There has been no wind today, but it is raw with a penetrating chill more suitable for January.

The juncos have come early to the feeder. We haven't usually seen them until later in the season. These bouncy small birds have the common name "snow birds." They are in the general classification of "Dark-Eyed Juncos" and may be a variant of the Oregon Junco. Several of them flew against the dining room picture window yesterday leaving tiny imprints of feathers, and one fell to the ground its neck broken. I moved it this morning, feeling a bit sad at that loss of cheerful life. I'm sure had it been a starling I wouldn't have spared a moment's grief.

A flicker landed on the log wall of the garage, braced itself and whanged its long black beak against the wood, but flew off when I inched my way through the mud with my camera. I have been seeing a crowd of long-billed mottled birds which wouldn't stay still long enough for me to get a good look. Grandson D. came in this afternoon and announced that they are the flicker's "babies"--mottled adolescents. He has just returned to say that the flickers are lodging in the dead tree at the far side of the small pasture where the irrigation ditch loops. As we watched the bobbing and pecking of the juncos a pair of Mallards coasted toward the pond. At the last moment they noticed the skum of ice coating most of surface, wheeled around the open end and landed with a splash in the cold water.

As dusk creeps in, a few flakes of snow are twirling gently on the moving air, the tops of the foothills are disappearing in a wrap of cloud-cloaked white. The nearer landscape is an expanse of snow, save along the ditches where mud and spent brown grasses weave a wide swath. Against this monochrome the trees stand out, broken branches hanging, in a dry rustle of green, dull gold and bronze.
There are good pictures of several "races" of juncos in the slide-show at this link.


  1. I can't believe that you already have snow and ice - it will be a long winter for you if it carries on this way. Your bird population must be glad of the feeders. New England was still warm and pleasant when I left and here it's the same. Just as well as I have the whole garden to sort out and clean up before we get winter weather!

  2. One our recent additions .. HP .. waits for any sign of disintrest and rushes in. Shame she doesnt just sleep it off ...she fills her tummy so full that 10 mins later she is sick ... now I have to seperate her at meal times.

    You are having a really early winter ...maybe Spring will be early too. Love your photos and narative ...have never heard of a Juncos cute. Starlings I do know and love their metalic sheen ... having seen them devour berries on trees and bushes I can see why they might be disliked.

    The cats are telling me that breakfast is late so I better go before Bilbo takes over and types a message lol xx

  3. What a lovely post, but sorry that your winter has arrived so early and stayed. Your cats seem to have invented some new ways of spending their time . . . creatively . . .

    Sorry I've not been up to much on my blog or comments recently. This viral hangover is horrid - been to the Doc's today for medication so hopefully will turn the corner soon. Meanwhile, no energy or breath to do my walking . . . and a woolly brain doesn't help creativeness.

  4. I love your writing. You are truly gifted. Are you a writer , maybe?
    I love Teasel and his stripes! Thank you for becoming a follower of my blog. I am honored. I try to blog two or three times a week, but just can't manage every day. I will be blogging at least twice more this week. The 17th is our golden wedding anniversary and I'll have a few photos to show. Sure do hope spring comes early for you. We've just had our first week of cool weather (in the 60's ) and I'm already looking for summer again!

  5. Thank you for the comments. I find myself thinking that we could all sit down with cups of tea and chat for hours.
    Rowan: glad the weather in NH stayed nice for you, the fall "colors" must have been at their peak. If it stays warm, sorting the garden can be a good task.
    Angie: we have a cat--Raisin--who does not know when her stomach is full--a very sensitive stomach--she makes a dreadful noise and then erps.
    BB: woolly brain or not, your posts ALWAYS give me ideas to ponder and explore!
    Chris: I'm not a writer except in the sense of loving to craft ideas and observations into words. There is always a running commentary inside my head, fitting descriptive phrases to convey what I see around me. Some of it now lands on the blog, most of it runs round in my mind--which is sometimes rather tiresome--like a recording that has been put on "repeat."