A small but enthused group of hearty nature lovers braved the winter cold on Sunday January 23 to join the "Winter Wonderland" 4th Sunday of the month Bird and Nature Adventure at UW Lakeshore Nature Preserve led by Paul Noeldner and Chuck Henrikson and Friends host Anne Pearce. Several other folks joined for short periods along the way before heading back someplace warm out of the chill wind.
Most birds were taking shelter too but there were enough drumming woodpeckers that made appearances, cheery chickadees grooming oak treetop buds, chipping cardinals in bushes, and yank yanking nuthatches climbing tree trunks to keep cold fingers busy focusing freezing binoculars.
Other Winter Wonderland Wonders the participants enjoyed were walking in sparkling white fluffy snow that blanketed tree limbs and pine boughs, talking about the beautiful fractal patterns of snowflakes and the safe sheltered subnivian (beneath the snow) layer that sintering (coalescing) snow provides for hiding, feeding and shelter out of the wind for a host of wild things, seeing the freshly scattered tracks and trails of mice, voles, squirrels, deer, fox and bunnies that scampered about and dove into holes in the snow and cavities in logs and trees and looking them up in Critter Trax and iTracks apps, celebrating Squirrel Appreciation Day and admiring lofty squirrel dreys cleverly suspended in high branches, spotting an odd looking abandoned wasp nest missing the top half due to blue jays foraging for grubs, and scanning jagged ice edges on University Bay hoping to spot two Snowy Owls recently reported to be in the area from the frozen Arctic.
Winter birding and nature outings are always surprisingly fun and rewarding, just remember to dress warm. Inexpensive hand and toe warmers help when it is especially cold out and Chuck Henrikson showed everyone the latest and greatest solution, a USB rechargable hand warmer!
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