Thursday, January 18, 2018

It Snowed Again.

1-18-18 SHORT HILLS: We had another snow. The temps were hovering in the low thirties and the snow/rain mix only amounted to a couple inches that froze when it got cold last night. Late in the afternoon, it partially cleared, and we had a nice sunset. This morning many of the trees have shed the snow, and I hope there wasn’t too much damage to the shrubs.

When all the shrubs and trees are coated with snow, the birds swarm the feeders as the most available meal.

The red-bellied woodpecker is a beautiful, large bird named for a barely evident characteristic. There must be a better, more appropriate name—suggestions, anyone?


New snow, only a couple of inches, but it's heavy and wet.

Tufted titmouse is among the birds that swarm the feeders when everything is snow covered.

Scenes like this keep me from seeing snow as just a nuisance that needs shoveling, plowing and slow driving.

Red-bellied woodpecker, male, is named for a minor trait, barely evident most of the time.

Slate-colored junco.

Downy woodpecker, looks a lot like the hairy woodpecker, but, like this one, has a smaller beak and small, black marking on the lateral tail feathers to make the ID.

After snow/rain all day, the sky cleared enough for a sunset.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Mid-Winter Birthdays.

1-15-18 SHORT HILLS: Eleven of us had dinner at Gotham Bar and Grill Saturday night to celebrate Val’s, Steve’s, Dan’s and my birthdays, all of them occurring within a few weeks of each other. Much wine and food was consumed, the staff was very attentive. Those attending, by initials were, A, A, D, G, H, J, L, L, S, S and V. Pix are on FB with everyone tagged.

Anna, Gardner and Gardner’s cousin. Helen, left the dinner right after dessert to drive to Hershey, PA to overnight before going to the Jaguars/Steelers game on Sunday. I suspect they enjoyed the game more than the Steelers fans did.

We are back in the deep freezer for at least a few days. It might warm up tomorrow, and snow might fall. Today, January 15, is half way from the end of November to the beginning of March.

I have a new camera, Nikon P900, and some new bird pix are up on the blog. So far, I’m pleased with it.


Go Jags!

There are no sports teams nicknamed squirrels are there? This one is eating a holly berry.

Goldfinch in winter clothes.

House finch still has color in winter.

Friday, January 12, 2018

A Taste of Spring.

1-12-18 SHORT HILLS: It’s in the sixties and raining heavily. The snow is gone, almost completely. The ground has thawed, and it smells like spring. If it wasn’t pouring, I would be outside in shirt sleeves. Winter is due back in a couple days, with a vengeance.

The robins have been back. There is a small flock of four or five who were here for a hour or so yesterday. They were eating the berries of an Asian holly, which are small and black. They did not go to the feeders or eat sunflower seeds under the feeders. I’ve never seen them here in January before.

We saw ‘The Marriage of Figaro’ at the Met on Wednesday. We have seen this production before and the previous one as well. I love it. The music is great, the plot farcical, but strangely topical with all the recent sexual misconduct reveals. The abuse of power by the privileged made it controversial in its time, but is still applicable today.

The three women, Nadine Sierra, my new favorite soprano, Isabel Leonard and Ailyn Pérez were all in extraordinary voice. It was a delight to be there. Unfortunately there were a lot of empty seats.

I am reading the transcript of the testimony by Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS that was released by Di Fi. He sounds quite credible and Christopher Steele is described as a ‘boy scout’, which makes their reports very believable. I'll put the link on FB.

There are three of four or five robins eating berries on this Asian holly. These berries are small and black.

Robins again. I don't ever remember them here in January.

No snow, just a lot of rain. It's warm, and the air smells of earth, loam and spring.

The set for 'Le Nozze di Figaro'. The stage rotates to present four different venues. This is the Countess' bedroom.

The cast at the end of the opera. That's Figaro, Ildar Abdrazakov, taking a bow. Ailyn Pérez's head is visible behind him, and Nadine Sierra is in red, and Isabel Leonard, in black, is to her left.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Heat Snap.

1-8-18 SHORT HILLS: Well, I got the year right again. The cold snap is over for the moment, as it’s up in the twenties, and a few above-freezing temps are predicted for later in the week. Why do we talk about a heat wave and a cold spell or snap, but not a cold wave or heat snap? No wonder English is so hard to learn.

We took the dogs for a walk around the block today. We wore heavy coats, hats and gloves. The dogs wore fur. We walk them around the snowy yard after the outing to clean their pads of the salt from the roads.

If it gets up to the forties later in the week in VT, that will be more than 60° warmer than it was when we were there in December. Another 60° warmer and it would be 100°, but VT has probably never been that hot.

It must be obvious that I don’t have a lot to do.


White-throated sparrow has a 'white throat' and yellow markings in front of the eyes.

Here's one hiding in a barberry bush.


There were about three dozen birds at the feeders when something, perhaps a raptor, scared them all, and they disappeared in an instant. I think six are hiding in this bush, another barberry.

Taking a nap in soft fluffy stuff.

A big, furry bird.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Cold Continuum.

1-3-18 SHORT HILLS: The deep cold continues in most of the east and other parts of the country. It’s about two weeks now with no warming in sight. A winter ‘hurricane’ is moving up the east coast now and will be a blizzard here and VT in the nest few days. If there are high winds, power outages will happen. The snow here is down to scattered patches. The extended forecast for next week shows moderating temps.

Twenty-five years ago ticks were very rare in VT, but are now present. I wonder it this cold spell will reduce the tick population for next summer. If the ticks over-winter on their hosts maybe the cold won’t matter.

We have lots of slate-colored juncos at the feeders both in NJ and VT. While they are always winter visitors, there seem to be more than usual this year. Could this be an irruption?


Sycamore trees have a distinctive look in winter with bone-white bark on the upper branches, a camo look lower down and greenish-brown at the base.

There seem to be an unusually high number of slate-colored juncos this winter both here and in VT. Is this an irruption?

Female junco, slate-colored, but the white collar is unusual.

There's very little snow here, as you can see.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

They're Gone.

12-27-17 VERMONT: All the guests are gone, all the food has been eaten. Judy has the house cleaned, straightened up, laundry done. We have survived another Christmas.

The weather just gets colder and colder. It was 4°F this morning, and is predicted to drop into the minus teens tonight with the same conditions predicted for the rest of the week.

New blooms: amaryllis.


Valerie's two amaryllis plants made the trip to Maine and then to Vermont so that she wouldn't miss the bloom. And here it is. It looks a lot like a daylily, it has that same monocotyledon format.

Xmas party...

Xmas party...

The birds sheltered on the porch overnight, staying out of the snow and near the feeder.

The icicle of Damocles. It's ten feet long and sharp.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Xmas Whiteout.

12-25-17 VERMONT: The last storm started late at night and ended about noon. We got maybe ten inches. It was a whiteout for a few hours.


Heavy snowfall...

Near whiteout...

About eight/ten inches.

hurly-burly breakfast.

Kitchen chaos.

By noon the sun was out.