January 2017

Photo of rock face behind Kent Town Hall at sunset with photographer's silhouette
Sunset at Kent Town Hall. Photo: Beth Herr

1/1     A beautiful day greeted 2017. Several town residents joined the New Year’s Day Hike at the Nimham State Forest on Nichols Street. It was a pleasant walk through a deep and dark spruce plantation, and then south to a promontory overlooking the West Branch Reservoir. We found owl pellets with little rodent bones. Temps were mild at 40°, and the sun made long shadows in the woodlands. The deep blue winter sky and refreshing south winds served up a fine way to spend the first afternoon of 2017.

1/6     I was surprised to find an inch of snow this morning. It had fallen silently overnight. There was just enough snow for good tracking. Among others, I found these coyote footprints with their distinctive “X” between the pads and two middle toes forward.

Photo of two coyote footprints in snow with ski-pole basket for scale
Yes, Mr. Coyote and his friends live around here. Photo: Beth Herr

1/7     It was a snowy Saturday with light precipitation all day long as Kent was brushed by the storm that brought almost a foot of snow to areas just a few miles south of here. It was cold too, so roads were quiet while most folks, including wildlife, hunkered down. The ongoing flit of birds feeding was the only detectable activity along Horsepound Road. Late at night a waxing moon lit up a silent winter scene.

1/8     I went skiing out my back door. My skis accumulated slush until they were heavy like cement. So I hiked instead. Most of the snow and ice was gone, the streams were going full flow (good for my neighbor whose well had gone dry this summer and has been getting water from my well through a garden hose). I followed a stream that went through a shaded ravine. There was still some snow and ice to photograph. I took a picture that shows the remnants, along with the full force stream.  — Dod Chahroudi

Photo of stream cascade in winter
Isn’t the hydrological cycle great? Photo: Dod Chahroudi

1/8     Three inches of powdery fluff coated the forest floor, highlighted evergreens and house trim. Just a little snow transformed the usual into the extraordinary. Nine degrees at sunrise.

1/9     While skiing I heard a loud banging sound and thought it might be the wind banging two trees together. Approaching the source, I discovered that it was coming from inside a single tree. It must have been a woodpecker, although not a pileated as the only openings in the trunk were narrow cracks. It continued pecking away looking for insects (I hoped for carpenter ants), accepting my curious presence. I’m guessing it was probably a red-bellied or downy woodpecker, as they regularly come to my bird feeder. My field guide says they can’t be identified by their thumping, as a small woodpecker can make a very big sound, providing they find the right hollow, resonating tree. This one was inside an excellent resonator. It was the loudest animal sound I’ve ever heard (although I’ve never heard male mountain sheep going at it).  — Dod Chahroudi

1/9     It was zero degrees this wintry morning. At White Pond, kids had shoveled a skating rink and hockey sticks were swinging. Skiers enjoyed the easy slide across three inches of snow and three inches of ice. It was noisy though. A construction beast was pulling steel plates out of the ice and it looked like the dam work was nearing completion.

Mid-day haze paled the golden sun. The sky silvered, the snow turned gray. But by sunset the clouds were gone, and luminous, clear, colorful skies ended a very wintry day.

1/10     The sun rose one minute earlier today (at 7:19am) for the first time since June 18. Small progress.  — Tom Lake

1/10     Maple syrup season has officially begun at Great Hollow on Havilland Hollow Road. Keep an eye out for our first annual pancake breakfast event!!  — John Foley

Photo of sugar maple trees with attached sap buckets overlooking a snow-covered lake
Pancakes! Not now, but soon. The recipe has a lot of steps. Photo: John Foley

1/12     What a difference a day makes. It was zero degrees just yesterday morning, today 56°. Two evenings of southerly winds brought moisture-laden clouds. By morning the air was clean and mild, and the rain gauge read 1½ inches. The temperature swing was evident in the ice on ponds and lakes: two days ago, blinding white snowy ice covered great expanses. As the temperature rose it changed to a dull slate gray, and then the rainwater made it shine like a clear mirror.

With rain predicted, the clouds lingered low. Outside, the January thaw was a boon for some. Squirrels chased around trees, opossums poked about, raccoon tracks appeared in the mud. Did the chipmunk venture out for a look-see?

1/14     Okay, January thaw is over. Last night’s snow squall left a hefty dusting and made the world sparkly again. With temps not above freezing, it’s bound to last a while. Winter is back.

1/15     A juvenile red-tailed hawk flew fast and low, right by my kitchen window today! This, my friends, was a magical experience for me, up close and personal!  — Rena Marie

1/15     Today was bright, sunny and dry, but still below freezing. A perfect day, apparently, for sunbathing in our back yard. At least that’s what this fox decided. After lazing in the sun for an hour or so, he got up, stretched, picked a few burs from his fur and wandered off into the woods. We hope he comes back often.  — Dave Ehnebuske

Photo of a fox with eyes closed lying in the sun
Who says you can’t sunbathe in January? Photo: Dave Ehnebuske

1/19     Three bald eagles were perched relatively close to each other in a black locust along the tidal Wappinger Creek this morning. What made the image so interesting was the three life stages represented: The first appeared to be a “new” adult (four years old), the middle one was a full adult (more than four years old), and the last was an immature (less than four years old).  — John Devitt, Wappinger Creek

1/20     A string of brooding, cloudy days with drizzle, rain and fog dampened spirits. The mild days in the 40’s seem odd for January. But most everyone chatting about the weather was happy not to have to deal with snow. Opossums were out foraging last night, even the smell of skunk was in the air. Small flies and honeybees were back-lit by low winter sunlight.

1/20     Sap was flowing today from a row of sapsucker holes in a small sugar maple along our Trailside Museums and Zoo trail. This was somewhat disconcerting given what is typically the coldest part of winter is yet to come.  — Ed McGowan, Bear Mountain

1/21     New Hamburg, HRM 67.5: A week ago we had plenty of ice on the river and there seemed to be an eagle on every floe. But after a week of above average air temperatures, and nearly an inch of rain, the ice was gone and so were the eagles. With many upland options, most had moved inland. The river and adjacent tributaries were dotted with common mergansers and a few ruddy ducks, seemingly at ease, since overwhelming threat of eagles has lessened.  — Tom Lake, B.J. Jackson

1/22     Thawing weather bubbling up from the south continued. Half of White Pond is open water. The dam is almost finished with new sluiceway and gauge installed.

Photo of nearly complete sluceway in newly refurbished dam at White Pond
Making the people downstream very happy. Photo: Beth Herr

1/24     Sunset was after five today, and the warm glow of the sun said spring to me.

Photo of sunset-lit winter trees at Dean Pond
A few minutes of extra daylight every day leads to spring. Photo: Beth Herr

1/25     The all-night rain and then some has melted ice and recharged the brooks. Skunk cabbage has already speared through the mud and begun to flower. This is the earliest I have ever seen it blooming.

Photo of skunk cabbage in bloom
Betting on a continued mild winter. Photo: Beth Herr

1/26     I spied a pair of red-tailed hawks soaring over the trail kiosk at the Hawk Rock Trail.  — Doris Ballant

1/27     Two opossums were snooping around the grill when I went out to do some cooking.  — Bruce Campbell

1/30     Almost three inches of snow came down today, but roads remained open.

1/31     The month ended as it began, half ice, half melt and mud. Overall it was a mild month with many days above freezing and several inches of rain. Ponds and lakes did not retain their ice. A few waterfowl even moved back in. Reports of turkeys abound; they are having an easy winter so far. Eagles are being seen feeding along the Hudson.

In February

  • Don’t miss the full Hunger Moon and Lunar Eclipse on February 10
  • Watch for red skunk cabbage spathes in the swamp, and pussy willows pushing off their brown scales.
  • Listen for fox yelps and owl hoots at night, and red-winged blackbirds’ songs during warm days
  • Check your buckets! The sap starts to flow in Sugar Maples
  • Look for snow fleas on tree bases on warm days
  • Note when willow trees turn yellow, and when red maples begin to blush
  • Listen for starlings to whistle and for purple finches and chickadees start their spring songs