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River Road Ramblings 1/9/10

Being able to live in the Adirondacks is a gift and a privilege. Millions of people visit here every year and it's not for the shopping, computer games, cell phone coverage, traffic jams, dirty air, pea soup water or the constant roar of machines. I love to live here because there is so much natural world still surrounding us and accessible for a little effort.

There are the small gifts of wildness that are available for just opening your eyes, looking around, listening, smelling the air. One of our titmice showed up at our feeding station for the first time this year on Jan. 3-round as a snowball because it was 0 degrees and very windy. I say "ours" because it was very comfortable picking up hulled sunnies from the enclosed area next to the glass door with me standing there. I marvel at how these tiny creatures can function in the cold, surviving even the miserable nights cheerfully, it seems.

Here's a gift for a lot of you bird feeders. I mention this bird every year but people are still surprised when they first see it. Watch for a tiny brown "mouse" hitching its way up a nearby tree when its friends, the chickadee crowd, come in to feed. Brown creepers never come to your feeder but they hang out near their winter friends. You have to look sharp for them, but get yourself a "lifer" this winter!

About the same time, a local bird feeder had a bird surprising to me this late into winter-a house or common wren. I've seen a winter wren in January when there was no snow on the ground, but a house wren ought to have more sense!

Canada geese are not usually a treat (they are invasives in the Adirondacks in the summer), but this "hearing" was at least interesting. Late on Dec. 16 I heard lots of geese flying around near the house, too late in the year for migration, with snow on the ground, the ponds frozen over. A big flock was over-nighting on the river where there is no food for them. Odd, a first for me.

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