Winter in the Ozarks

2010 January 6
by David J. Ringer

VICKSBURG, MISS. — I’m back in Mississippi but have a few pictures left to post from Missouri. I managed to get home just before TEH COLDENING — and though even Mississippi is headed for temperatures in the teens, we won’t see anything near what everybody north of us is getting.

Anyway, last Friday was the Taney County Christmas Bird Count — a great way to start a new decade of birding. Despite some drama around a depleted iPhone battery, my friend Lisa Berger and I managed to start owling around 5:20 a.m., under the magnificent blue moon, as the temperature hovered around 16 degrees. It was worth it though — our efforts yielded six Eastern Screech Owls and five Barred Owls.

The sun rose; the day was beautiful, if not as birdy as we’d hoped. But several American Tree Sparrows were a good bird for the count. They don’t always push from the Osage Plains up into the Ozarks, but I my guess is that the snow cover pushed them a bit farther south this year. Another highlight was seeing Yellow-rumped Warblers drinking sap from freshly drilled sapsucker wells in a maple tree.

ozarks-vista

savanna

nostoc-commune

Nostoc commune is a terrestrial cyanobacterium that forms jelly-like colonies on Ozark glades. It can withstand extreme conditions on the rocky glades — heat, cold, drought, wetness, and harsh sunlight.

frost-flower-1

We found frost flowers, which form when water extrudes through stem tissue and freezes, forming spectacular ice ribbons. You can watch it happening here.

frost-flower-2

mosscape-2

Sunday, we awoke to a freshly snow-covered world, which though it made my long drive longer, was just beautiful.

snowy-yard

snowy-waterfowl

I stopped by a spring-fed reservoir on the way out of town and was interested to see that the Canada Geese and dabbling ducks were letting the snow accumulate on their bodies. Diving ducks like Ring-necked Ducks kept washing it off as they dove.

Related posts:

  1. Ozarks warblers and wildflowers
  2. Birding on the winter solstice
  3. Warm-winter birds
  4. Cole Camp CBC: Snow, longspurs, and owls
  5. Surprise guest on a bitter night
One Response
  1. January 11, 2010

    The moss image is captivating. What a beautiful landscape. But I’m especially intrigued by the crystallofolia. It’s such a simple process, but it creates some exceptionally stunning designs.

    Even though the count wasn’t as productive as you might have liked, it sounds as though you found some goodies that made suffering through the cold worthwhile.

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