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A Wintery Mix

A winter has descended on Austin unlike any I have seen in the (many) decades I have been here…

1. Finches and Birdseed

The bird feeders have been well stocked (and millet-free) since before the snow started falling, thanks to the fair and industrious Trudy. Although in the early afternoon Starlings scare everyone else away, in the morning the Lesser Goldfinches own the place. They peck at the seeds in the feeders and pick up the jetsam strewn about on the snow covered ground. Every once in a while, a yellow and black flash will arrive, but mostly it’s the greyish/greenish/brownish females and juvenile males.

Trudy stands transfixed at the kitchen window watching them.

2. Waxwings and Possumhaw

Down the street, there is a magnificent Possumhaw near the curb. Sadly, ours is male and so produces no berries. This one down the street is decidedly female, and its berries have been untouched until recently.

I glanced that way yesterday in the morning after the five inches of snow fell overnight. There was a fury of activity: Cedar Waxwings swooping in and swooping out, fluttering in the branches, frantically hopping on the ground where many red-orange berries were lying on the white snow. Today half of the berries were gone. Well gone in a sense, because strewn about on the snow- and ice-covered street and yards of four nearby houses was evidence (shall we say) of the berries that used to be.

3. Oak and Moss

There is a massive Live Oak on Old Fredricksberg Road just where the hill begins.  

It lost a limb last night as the freezing rain coated the trees. This tree in particular is struggling since it is between the street (which must have taken half its rootball) and a sidewalk (which was poured recently as likely damaged the other half). Its canopy is thinning. The Ball Moss is moving in.

Covered in ice, the weight of all that ball moss must have been tremendous. A large limb had crashed onto the street overnight. The ice-covered branches and twigs shattered as it hit the pavement. It was no longer so much an oak limb as a pile of ice shards, broken off bark, kindling, and piles of frozen ball moss.

It took about 20 minutes to move the mess out of the road. Thanks to Pete who pulled over to help move the huge main branch.