January 24, 2016
At Farmington and Avon, CT
The historic-size blizzard that swept north from the South, inundating Washington, D. C., Philadelphia, New Jersey and New York City with accumulations of two feet or more, left only 6 or 7 inches of powdery snow here in the Farmington Valley, the northern edge of the storm. The snow stopped falling sometime shortly after midnight, making possible a beautiful morning today with a deep blue sky, almost no wind, and the fresh, unblemished snow, the first snow of any significance this season in this area.
Being outdoors was imperative. I wanted to slip into the snowshoes, but the snowfall was just shy of what I think is the minimum for a decent snowshoe outing. I put boots on, grabbed the camera and went for a walk in the woods, binoculars and a bigger zoom lens in my daypack. Temperature was in the low 20s but with bright sunlight it felt warmer.
Having seen a pileated woodpecker in the Winding Trails recreation area only last week, I decided to walk there in hopes of capturing a nice photo this time. I, in fact, heard a pileated as I walked one of the woods trails, but never came anywhere near the bird. A crow was harassing a perched red-tailed hawk, but that was about it for bird excitement at Winding Trails. After hiking for nearly an hour, I hopped in the Jeep and decided to see if there was any interesting bird activity in the nearby Fisher Meadows area of Avon.
No sooner did I pull into a small parking area than a hawk flew off overhead, almost completely pale underneath, with black edges on the wingtips. A mature northern harrier, a species that, while not rare, is certainly very uncommon in Connecticut. Got a great look against the blue sky, but no time to grab the camera and attempt a photo.