This is the kind of day it is today.  Not a cloud in the light blue sky, the sun casting sharp shadows from the bare branches.  A bit blustery, and cold- I'd guess 25 degrees, not including wind chill.  The snow is very hard, and has a icy surface.  I wandered into Fox park at around noon- all I could hear was a few high peeps from chickadees and the occasional crow yelling at something.  Notably, the woodpeckers seemed absent on my way into the woods toward my pine tree- could the extra-frozen trees deter all but the most robust woodpeckers?  Usually at least a downy will be somewhere, tapping away.

 

 

 

 

These two trees on the right exhibit this intersting "crinkly", wafer-like, "scaly" bark.  Around these parts, I would wager a guess these are black cherry trees.  Magnificent!

 

One interesting feature:  they are always alone!  I have yet to see two of these "scaly" trees within eyesight of each other.  Compare this to the gaggles of hemlocks, clubs of white pines, and stands of beeches... I really haven't the foggiest why such an impressive and dense tree would manage to populate itself so sparsely.

 

 

Someone has been doing house cleaning!  This cavity in the tree is getting excavated, and upon further inspection, the space inside is enormous.  The wood chips at the base look relatively fresh, and the wind hasn't blown the sawdust off the bark yet.

These green conk mushrooms I found are gnarly.  Beginning and end of story.

As I left my sit spot, I found myself staring into the top of each pine tree I walked under.  I am getting a gut feeling the owls are going to be getting restless for spring soon.  So many more mammals will become breakfast, lunch, and dinner (for our GHO and barred owls especially) in a few weeks when they emerge.  I think I will aim to do my few sit spots before sunrise, armed with the saw-whet call, and see if I can pick out who is living up there in the multitudes of pines.

Bonus:  I found these well-preserved, flash-frozen crow footsteps literally wandering out of the parking lot and into the park, following the "human trail".  

-Jess