Early in the week the garden we enjoyed a light snowfall – didn’t last long – that prettied-up the leaves and branches for a while. Our Northern Cardinals were still moving around in their small same-sex groups and all six House Finches spent time squabbling over the food we provide alongside a couple of Dark-eyed Juncos. Goldfinches and Chickadees were also in evidence.
Squirrels have been busily gathering dry leaves and carrying to the very topmost branches of a tall fir tree where they have been enjoying themselves constructing a winter “nest” that will give them some shelter against the cold nights to come.
Mid-week a fox trotted across the frozen grass, but too quickly for the camera to be found. A friend living a street over had photographed a fox a couple of days before – wonder if it’s the same animal?
First of December we spied a small army of squirrels advancing across the lawn in line-abreast, all efficiently searching for food. Almost a military formation, or like the police doing a fingertip search. All the squirrels are clearly going into the winter months very plump and prepared. We don’t feed them but they find excellent food under the bird feeders despite most of the feeders having trays on their bases to stop too much falling to the ground.
Some of the trees and shrubs still have a few leaves clinging on. The Acer japonicum is covered in leaves, albeit they are dry and brown. Honeysuckle and Larch have leaves too, the larch ones being a lovely yellow. The leaves on the dawn redwood tree are a faded brown and mostly still attached. Leaves on the pin oak and the catalpa are shades of green/brown/gold. Even the dreaded buckthorn has a few shrivelled leaves still – can’t kill that stuff. We note a fair number of native species on this leaf-retaining list, no doubt unsettled by the warmer than usual autumn. The usual progressive adaptation of trees and plants to winter that starts in late August has not been normal this year as a consequence of the unusually mild autumn. Many species of trees have not properly formed the abscission layers that allow leaves to fall and we are seeing brown and withered leaves still hanging onto branches that should, by now, be bare. The soft tissues at the end of branches may well freeze over the course of the winter as they are not fully hardened yet in some specimens. The buds that are expected to produce the flowers may still be retaining excess water that will freeze and cause tissue damage that may partially hinder the flowering of some ornamental trees and the production of fruit trees next spring. This situation, as well as the particularly late leaf fall, should not affect the health of trees in the long term though more fragile ornamental varieties maybe particularly affected.
Then at the end of the week Mr. Fox came back, pausing to lick the ice on the pond then moving away in an easy lope.
Snow cannot be far away, real snow.
(Click to enlarge)