Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Winter Carries On

Winter keeps chugging on, as one expects in this part of the world.  Sometimes, we get a day of reprieve that reminds us that eventually, spring will come.  This past Saturday was one of those days.  The temperature reached 12 °C (54 °F for all you folks south of the border), which is very unusual for mid February.  The temperature rarely rises above freezing at this time of year, so it was a delight to be able to spend a part of Saturday outside.  Marc helped me clean out the chicken coop, which was very much needed.  It's hard to clean it out in winter when the chicken poop freezes solid!  We had a couple of days of just above freezing toward the end of the week, and coupled with the Saturday temperature, that was enough to allow for clean out.  Usually we do that job with the wheelbarrow, but you can't really do that when there's as much snow on the ground as there is now.  So, it was bucket brigade - four buckets pressed into service and I filled them while Marc took them to the compost heap across the yard.  The chickens are happy, as am I.  

I was also easily able to clean and refill the duck's "pond" because the hose was working.  

Often in winter I have to use buckets for that task, so on a day when I can use the hose, I take advantage!  The duck was likewise very happy.  I couldn't resist taking pictures of him doing his duck aerobics in the fresh pool.

He gets very energetic about it.

I see an orange foot!

The recent heavy snows had actually encased the edge of the pond until the warmer temperatures, so I couldn't dump the contents of it without damaging it.  The brief thaw allowed for a proper clean-out. 

Here's what they mean about 'water off a duck's back' - it just slides right off!

He was a very happy duck.

The robins were also continuing to visit the mountain ash (rowan) tree out front.  I was delighted to see them although I worry about their ability to survive this year, given the depth of the snow cover, which is over the top of many plants they might otherwise eat dried berries from.  They stayed busy with the tree for about a week or 10 days, and then just like that, they were gone.  I took some more pictures of them as well as a short video, because I was so entranced by their visit in such large numbers.  At one point I counted nearly 40.

Also on the warm day, I went looking for winter insects.  I know, that doesn't sound intuitive, but there are some species that will emerge on warmer days, so I wanted to see what I could find.  Of course, there were vast numbers of Hypogastrura species springtails (also known as snow fleas, but they are not fleas, and thus that's a horrible common name for them).  They can be mistaken for 'dirt' on snow, but they are actually very dark blue.  See the 'dirt' on the snow?

Here's a close up of the 'dirt' - tiny springtails!

I also found another species of springtail that was new to me - an Isotoma species (probably Isotoma viridis). This one is about 3 times the size of the ones in the picture above.

In addition, I found a winter crane fly (Trichocera spp.) and a wolf spider.

Of course, the next day, it was back to freezing, and today it was a chilly -12 °C (10 °F), but I managed to get out for a good ski - 7 km in total on my local trails.  It was a great day for it. The trails were freshly groomed.  The snow is very deep - we have a good 3+ foot base of snow under that trail.

Lovely to be out on a sunny day enjoying the exercise and fresh air in the woods.


porkpal said...

I love the duck antics!

Marigold said...

Oh, so much snow! But what lovely pictures when the sun is shining. :) And who knew insects would be out? (Well, obviously you. :)) Mr. Duck is truly enjoying himself. Where does he stay if his water is frozen?

Claire MW said...

Mr. Duck (Sir Francis, to be precise), has an immersion heater in his pond (errr...kiddie pool), so it doesn't freeze. But it does freeze all around the pool and sometimes I can't empty the pool as a result. It is challenging to refill the pool when I can't use the hose. But, ducks need open water to clear the little holes in their beak (like nostrils) so he always needs to have water available.