Thursday, January 31, 2013

Another Recent Sunrise

You realize of course that the only reason I can post sunrise pictures is because the sun doesn't rise very early, but never-the-less, when you get an interesting morning of clouds, the sunrise can be pretty spectacular out our windows.  This was a week ago or so.

Meanwhile of course we've had this crazy second January thaw.  In 48 hours it removed virtually all the foot of snow we had, again eliminating cross-country skiing and snowshoeing until it accumulates again.  Yesterday our lawn was brown again.  You have to get out and enjoy it when you can!  But this morning an arctic blast moved back int, and the streamers are gusting straight east from Lake Huron.  It looks too much like a blizzard outside to even enjoy going for a walk, but I'll bundle up and try it - the dog loves winter.

I keep trying to learn different settings on my camera to get the best pictures, and the two pictures below are taken of the same view, but in slightly different settings.  The first picture below was taken on Aperture setting at a speed of 1/100;  the second on Auto setting, at 1/30th.  Frankly, though I like the first, I think the second give a more realistic view of what I was actually seeing. Funny what the camera can do to the light. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Old Woods Road

The trail into the nearby woods where I walk with the dog nearly every day starts with the old woods road, a tractor trail in beside a fencerow and then passing through another fencerow, heading west into the woods itself.  The old field now full of thousands of tall maple saplings was obviously open hayfield at some point in the past, but these big old trees have provided seeds for very rapid regeneration of new young trees.  It's a beautiful spot when the fall colours are at their best, but looks great in white too.

The slight curve in the tractor trail is lined with the dense maple saplings on each side, curving gently until you reach the woods.  Only a few of these young maples will ever reach maturity, as the winners in the race for sunlight win out, and the others gradually die away, but meanwhile it's a beautiful young forest covered in white.

It's been a serious cold snap this week, -30 on one morning, with lots of fresh snow, and very little wind.  The trees are all covered in white on the west side, giving a white clean look to the entire forest.  You really need to dress warmly to enjoy a walk these days - and give yourself a kick just to get out the door into the frosty cold!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Skiing Kolapore

Winter was back with a vengeance yesterday, with snow streamers off Lake Huron bringing snow squalls on and off all day, but the result was enough snow for cross-country skiing again.  So I joined a Bruce Trail ski in the Kolapore Forest.  One corner of the Country Forest area is being logged, so we walked up the road a short distance and headed in on a trail down this old farm lane.  Fresh powder snow on the surface, and on all the branches - it was great skiing.

The volunteers who maintain the trails here face lots of challenges, including beaver populations that come and go, flooding low-lying areas.  In turn, bridges need to be expanded, or boardwalks built - or in worse cases, trails closed.  Below is one of the beaver ponds we encountered, this one now abandoned.

Because the temperature was just above zero when the snow started 36 hours ago, it initially stuck to the trees, and that snow caught more, so the fresh powder snow this morning was plastered to the north side of all the trees and branches.  A few places were pretty well white, like below - all young maple saplings, filling in the corner of an old field.

And this is an old apple tree, now overgrown by surrounding forest, and dying, but today looking great with a fresh coat of white.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Tracks in the Woods

Walking in the woods nearly every day this winter, though I made an exception for those two days of the January thaw!  Thank goodness, the snow is back now, a blizzard today in fact.  Usually I walk nearby, but sometimes further away; these are from the snowshoe walk a couple of weeks ago when we saw the bald eagle - still can't get over that!

By the size and pattern of tracks when we found this one, we think this is a coyote.  We hear them far more often than seeing their tracks.

Fairly close, noticeably smaller, and following a long straight line as they do, was this fox track. Several times we've seen fox tracks right outside the windows of our house, and once or twice, in other seasons, seen the fox trot along up the fencerow.

And deer tracks were everywhere, rarely forming any kind of a trail, though often there were nearby tracks indicating that a small group had gone by.  Here though, the deer did actually create a 'deer trail', as they headed out of the hardwoods and down into the swamp.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Bald Eagle!

Snowshoeing with some friends the other day, on a beautiful sunny day in the woods along their trails.  We were watching a woodpecker up in a nearby tree when overhead a large bird flew past - a Bald Eagle!  It was high in the air, but we could clearly see its white head and tail, and the huge wings, wing tips very obvious against the sky.

The closest I got to a picture is a picture of the trees against the blue sky after the eagle had flown past, but here it is anyway, just to prove I was there!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Monday Snowshoe; Friday Rain!

Had a great snowshoe on Monday on a bright sunny day along the top of the escarpment following the Bruce Trail north from the Beaver Valley Ski Club.  Actually I've been out snowshoeing several times in the past ten days - but today was heavy rain and high temperatures.  Blah!  The January thaw is here; let's hope we recover quickly with a huge snowstorm!

Trees along an old fencerow.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Spectacular Recent Sunrise!

I'm not usually up early enough to see the sunrise!  But at this time of year the sun doesn't rise too early anyway.  A week or two ago I caught this spectacular sunrise just at the right time.  It only lasted a few minutes and then vanished, but for those few minutes it was amazing.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

First BT Snowshoe Hike

Jan. 1st, and the day dawned with a brilliant blue sky, at minus 12.  By lunch it was only slightly warmer, but still that brilliant deep blue sky.  The first Bruce Trail snowshoe hike of the season, followed by a delicious potluck and visit kept me busy the rest of the afternoon and early evening.  We snowshoed around the edge of a member's farm, and through the woods a bit. Good exercise, fresh air, and good company.

The crowd has passed, as usual I was at the end of the line, stopping to take pictures on such a brilliant day.

The sun was shining from low in the afternoon sky by the time we were reaching the end of the hike, casting long shadows from the trees.

The maple, cherry, basswood and ash in the fencerows stood stark and bare against the winter snow and sky.  All in all a great start to the new year.