Winter is there

2013_winter_viewI found winter: the juncos have it.

SEAL on the snow.

SEAL on the snow.

I knew that my field sites would be under snow in the winter. I knew that the pass closes, and that there is a ski place below some of my highest sites. Still it’s impressive to see the seasons in action.

This is one of my sites in July. The tall corn lily flower in the center, in front of the sapling, marks the location of the nest belonging to juncos SAIR and MERA.

2013_winter_SAIRs_nest2

SAIR and MERA's chicks

SAIR and MERA’s chicks

The chicks grew up, were banded, and fledged. Time passed. This is that same area, complete with a corn lily flower, not too long ago:

2013_winter_SAIRs_nest_4

Everything was brown, and snow lay in large patches.

2013_winter_cornlilyAt a site lower in elevation, the vegetation was mostly dead but there wasn’t yet any snow.

2013_winter_before_alpWhen I went back most recently, the situation had changed. I can’t even show you SAIR and MERA’s nest because the road to that site was closed. The lower site pictured above, however, had transformed into this:

2013_winter_snow

2013_winter_grass

2013_winter_road

Snow balanced on a blade of grass.

Snow balanced on a blade of grass.

Mine were the only human footprints there, but squirrel tracks connected tree trunks across the snow. The juncos were distinctly more spherical than they had been in the summer, all puffed up against the cold.

At an even lower site, the snow had not yet blanketed everything, and the juncos foraged on the few patches of bare ground.

In the summer this was a meadow of waist-high grass.

In the summer this was a meadow of waist-high grass.

This is just the beginning of the juncos’ winter.

2013_winter_mushrooms2013_winter_moss+trees

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