Journal for January 23, 2014

The new year has brought a us a lot of cold weather.   It was -18F when we got up this morning, and it’s managed to get up to -5F on this sunny afternoon.  So we haven’t been spending much time outside.  We still walk twice a day, unless it’s very windy, but that’s about all.

The first photo – January 1, 2014.



We did have a few days last week when it was warm enough to go snowshoeing.  I walked up the bluff behind the house and visited last fall’s savanna clearing project.

indian grass savanna


And then walked along Buffalo Ridge.

buffalo ridge


It was pretty windy on the ridge, so I headed down into the woods.  I found an animal den in one of the hollows.

animal den


The den was about 12 inches in diameter, and it had ice crystals around the edges, showing that warm air was coming out.  (When we had woodchucks living in the cliff behind our house, we could always tell which holes were occupied in the winter by which ones had rims of ice crystals.)  There were no tracks around this den at all, so the animal must be one that hibernates completely during the cold months.

animal den 2


On warmer days we sometimes find spiders or insects in the snow.

Sac Spider – possibly Clubiona

1-12-14 spider


A Winter Cranefly

Trichocera 1-12 14


3 Bald Eagles in one of the trees at Willow Bend

bald eagles


We’ve also had a Great Blue Heron visiting our creek.  It usually comes by about once a week.  Here it is on January 23.

great blue heron 1-23-14


We did the Golden Eagle count last weekend.  Unfortunately, Saturday turned out to be terrible weather for birding.  Lots of people braved the bad roads and poor viewing conditions, and they did see eagles.  Mike and I did our counting on Sunday, when the roads were cleared of snow, and the sky was clear.

The results from our part of the count:
Golden Eagles – 7
Bald Eagles – 23
Red-tailed Hawks – 5
American Kestrel – 1

(I’ll post the totals from the whole count once Scott announces them.)

Quite a few people made it to the After-the-Count Party at our house.

Scott – organizer of the count



Andrew, Steve and Bill

Andrew Steve Bill 1-18-14


Jerry and Carol

Jerry Carol


Dale, Anne, and Emily

Dale Anne Emily


Here are a few more scenes from our winter walks.  This is East Center Valley Prairie, looking north.

east center valley prairie 2


Also East Center Valley Prairie – taken from the same place but looking south, toward the road.

east center valley prairie


Morning sun on Sumac Prairie

morning sun on sumac prairie