Squirreling Away for Winter

For some weeks red squirrels have been gathering cones. Although that sounds rather casual it’s serious business.

Red squirrel

Unlike some of their cousins, including Columbian ground squirrels, red squirrels don’t hibernate but stay active all winter. If the weather is extremely cold they remain in their nest but otherwise it’s not unusual to see them out in the snow.

Red squirrel

It always surprises me that the tiny seeds of spruce cones provide them with enough energy.  It’s double duty right now — eating enough to put on some weight and storing enough to see them through to spring. Those cones, along with the mushrooms they’ve harvested and dried, should do the trick.

Red squirrel


Red squirrel    Tamiasciurus hudsonicus

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Three More Inches of Winter

Or 8 centimetres, whichever you prefer. The snow arrived last night and it was still falling this morning, turning our world white. Again. Yes, a sure sign of spring in Alberta.

A month ago we were hiking the Sonoran Desert, panting in the heat, searching for shade. The snakes and lizards were out — and a profusion of flowers. A much nicer view right now. 🙂

Blue palo verde
Blue palo verde
Bougainvillea
Bougainvillea
Evening primrose
Evening primrose
Chuparosa
Chuparosa
Brittlebush
Brittlebush
Strawberry hedgehog
Strawberry hedgehog

Rime and Reason

Rime — tiny ice crystals that form when supercooled water vapour freezes on contact with solid objects

Storms that pummelled the West Coast a few days ago sent moisture-laden clouds scudding over the rocks and into Alberta. When the water vapour landed here it grew into fog. Then freezing temperatures worked their magic, turning windward surfaces white with rime.

A misty grey fairyland …


Balsam poplar   Populus balsamifera
Canada thistle   Cirsium arvense
White spruce   Picea gluaca

Owed to Winter

Rosy cheeks
Runny nose
Chilly fingers
Frost-nipped toes.

Yup. Winter has launched a shot across autumn’s bow. The faint drizzle yesterday turned into several centimetres of the white stuff by morning.

But the temps will rise later this week and the panic to install snow tires, replace the weather stripping and buy new gloves will wane. After all, winter is months way.

Right?


Wild rose hip   Rosa acicularis

 

Closed for the Season

First snowfall of the season arrived yesterday. Not a lot. Just enough to let us know that winter has checked its bags and is on its way south.

A walk along the fence line revealed that many local inhabitants have already hunkered down.

On sunny days just a week or so ago, wood ants in this ant hill still foraged outside for food. Now all is quiet, muffled beneath the white.


Wood ants   Formica spp.