We had our first stick-to-the-ground snowfall yesterday. Not that it amounted to much—a few tenths of an inch of ragged white frosting. Not enough to completely cover the grass and leaves, or count as a "tracking snow"…but enough that we heretofore snow-free southern Ohioans could look out our windows and see a landscape which finally looked wintry.
Actually, the snow began long after dark on New Year's Day, arriving in the form of tiny rounded pellets, or graupels, which some folks refer to as "hominy snow," because it looks like uncooked white grits. When I stepped out with Moon-the-Dog just before midnight, this granular hominy snow was peppering down like gangbusters. You could hear it pinging through the branches of the big hackberry near the door. In the yellow glow from the porch light, I watched as the gusting wind swirled it around the eaves and across the deck's planking.
Along with the snow came our first fairly cold temperatures—17˚F (-8˚C) last night and a time or two today, with only a couple of degrees rise at the high-point. Not cold by northcountry standards, I know, but cold enough when you've been used to daytime highs in the upp-50s and above.
Oddly, the bird feeders weren't as busy yesterday as they usually are when it's snowing. Typically, when snow begins falling, the birds crowd in like grocery shoppers at the supermarket right before a blizzard. It's often all I can do to keep the feeders stocked for the noisy hordes.
Feeder traffic was up somewhat today. Busy, but still not the mob scene I've come to expect. Why? Could be the immediate neighborhood has a surfeit of well-stocked feeders out. My best guess would be that given the unseasonably mild weather, many birds simply haven't needed to depend so heavily on feeder offerings to keep them fed; maybe a fair amount of natural foods have remained available in nearby fields and forests.
The morning's arrivals did include the first group of juncos I've seen this winter. And even before the sun came up, as Myladylove and I were having breakfast, cardinals by the dozens began appearing. My best count was 47 males and females visible at once in the dim light, and I didn't get to those birds in the cedars over by the fence. Conservatively, I'd say there were 75 cardinals within a 50-foot radius of the front door…a sight which never fails to amaze me, though our riverbank corner has always seemed like Redbird Central, even if I don't quite understand exactly why; I nevertheless appreciate the gift.