Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Where field meets the forest

The winterless winter continues, with no sign of actual winter anywhere in my forecast. It’s as though November moved in and never plans to leave. At least a month like, say, August, hasn’t yet tried the same trick. I’ve long since put my down parka in the closet. Last year I lived in that thing.

I’ll bet some, if not all, of the forest animals are thrilled, if that’s something they can be. I see deer everywhere in the fields in both mornings and evenings. This morning I saw 14 in 2 groups. Last night I saw 7 in another group on the mountain.

Winter is hard on the deer, normally. This year that is certainly not the case. The grazing is still probably not the best, as the grasses are all sleeping through winter. But the deer don’t have to paw through snow and ice to reach it. Some winters deer huddle in their “yards” and can’t or don’t move beyond its confines. In really severe winters they can die in there when they run out of food. This year even the ponds and puddles have open water, at least by around noon or so.
I think an easy winter is likely to make for a strong breeding season for them. Certainly there isn’t any winter-caused hardship.

Other animals and the birds are likely seeing the same kind of benefit. Birds will survive the winter fat and happy, ready for a new breeding season, too. The winter residents will be in good shape to start their trips back north.

This kind of winter may not be my cup of tea, but I’ll bet it’s theirs.

1 comment:

Scott said...

On January 22, I spotted a Hermit Thrush in a hedgerow. I know that a few always hang out for the winter, but it must be hard on them and I'll bet a lot don't make it. This year, "my" Hermit may have an edge up on those that migrated further South because it won't have to fly so far to reach its breeding range!