Sunday, March 1, 2015

March 1, 2015

The first day of meteorological spring!  Rather than the vernal equinox, March first is the day that meteorologists consider the start of the spring weather season, and hopefully the worst of winter is behind us.  Perhaps we turned the season with the coldest night of the season on February 14, with a low of 20 degrees below zero.  And we went a whole week without snow falling on us, so maybe change is in the air.

February 14 - Coldest Night of the Year

The coldest days of winter always seem to be the most beautiful, with the brilliant blue skies contrasting against pristine white snow.  Dressing appropriately and selecting a journey to take advantage of the sun and wind, I inevitably discover peace and inspiration on a such a day.

My nephew asked me recently why the sky is blue, and though I knew it was due to the atmosphere scattering blue light more than other colors, I had to look up a few of the details.  For example, why is the blue less intense near the horizon?  The reason is that light from that angle has bounced around many more times, both within the atmosphere and off the surface of the earth, so the colors have all been mixed back to together again, restoring more of the other colors in the process. 

Even with no fresh snow for a week there are not many animals moving around in the deep snow cover.  I saw fox tracks repeatedly traveling the same trails that have either been plowed, or packed down by skis or snow shoes.

One fox found something in it travels, as indicated by a small chasm it had excavated in search in of meal.

There was no evidence to indicate its effort was fruitful.

I also found quite a few sets of weasel and mink tracks where they have been circling the shoreline in search of prey;  it's a good tactic, as I watched a red squirrel travel the same route earlier in the week.  Eventually the two will meet up and the chase will be on!

Mink tend to travel along the shoreline.  This mink worked its way along a long stretch of shore;  it knows where all the streams enter into the lake, creating open spots of water.

A Mink on its Daily Circuit around the Lake

This track may be from a mink making its way back from a hunting trip on one of the islands in Lake Wicwas.

Ermine and long tailed weasels stay more in the forest.  This is a spot where a weasel jumped out of tree and left an imprint in the snow as it worked its way through the woods, traveling in the trees wherever possible to circumvent the deep snow.
Likely Imprint from a Least Weasel

While walking along the shore line myself, I noticed the cones of two different types of pine tree still attached to branches hanging over the lake. 
Red Pine


And emerging high above the edge of the lake, the moon had transformed itself in just a week, already half-full in that cold, blue sky.
And did you notice?  It was still light at 6:00 tonight.  Yes, change is in the air.

No comments:

Post a Comment