January 20, 2013

Walking in the Thaw, Cold Approaching

The end of a wonderful monthly walk.
Thanks to the eighteen hearty folks who came out for our January walk at Great Meadows ready for an adventure in stiff winds and on muddy trails!  The week's January thaw drew to a close late this afternoon as a cold front passed through with streaming clouds and strong winds.  The trails were muddy and puddled and the ice layer in the impoundment pools had thinned and shrunk dramatically since last weekend, though some patterns hinted at the week's undulating freeze-and-thaw rhythms.

Frozen laps - wind driven water flash frozen as it lapped onto icy surfaces
A small flock of goldeneye (or bufflehead) ducks settled into the open water to the east, ring-billed gulls soared overhead, chickadees worked dried seedheads on the trail edges, and swamp sparrows worked the cold, wet mud beneath the cattails.  All of the ice in the floodplain forest shrank back to the water's edge in these last warm days.  Standing by the river we admired the red stems of swamp dogwood, discussed the marvels of the river ice that will likely return this week, reviewed the history of the Great Meadow, the Concord River, and Musketaquid (the Algonquin name for what is now Concord, "place where the river runs through grasses").  On our way to the beaver lodge, we discovered several piles of fisher scat, numerous muskrat tunnels that are caving into dangerous foot traps, and heard a beaver tail slap in what little unfrozen water there was under the cattail scrub.

Our walk back was bedazzled by the setting sun, perfectly appointed by a small flouish of clouds and contrails.

1 comment:

  1. Beautifully written, Cherrie. You also have great talent for taking gorgeous pics. So nice to have been able to join you today.