GroundHog Day What's Winter Got to Do With it and Birding on RiverWalk

By: WeatherWise , 5:31 AM GMT on February 02, 2014

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Ground Hog's Day - Will he or Will He Not?

Wonder if the Ground Hog will even bother to come out? If he does, he will surely see his shadow and run back in for 6 more weeks of bad weather@ This little mystery hole was determined by WU folks to be that of a groundhog. So guess I have my own little Punxsutawney Phil!

I would hope for this winter extreme cold to calm down to mild 40 to 50 midday temps. Hope he does not see his shadow.

Today was a mild 50 to 60 degree day - balmy and is a mild 46 at almost midnight. It was a great day to go on the Riverwalk.


A beautiful day for a walk 50 to 60 degrees midday to afternoon.


Had several different ops with this pair of wood ducks, today on the Riverwalk. It was like they followed me down the river - or perhaps I followed them. At any rate, I got them in several different settings.

I have more to share for this blog entry but it is late. I will come back and add to it later. Thanks for dropping by! Happy Birding in Winter and will be watching out for that Punxsutawney Phil!

Happy Sunday! It's Ground Hog Day and they say he saw its shadow. I did not see mine come out as yet if indeed it is a ground hog. If I were him, I don't think I would have even bothered. However we had mild temps for Friday, Saturday, and now Sunday - So three days of mild weather. Actually, the forecast for the week looks fairly good with a promise of rain showers and clouds but mild temps. Weather like that makes you get gardening fever. Have a great day! Shirley

One more photo of the little wood duck from my Saturday afternoon walk.

I often speak of the cardinal tree and some of you wonder what in the world I am talking about. I posted a photo of it last year after discovering it near the edge of the woods on a deadend street that I pass by on my daily walk. I had never seen that many cardinals together. I was amazed! It is not a beautiful tree in winter - is quite scraggly and hard to even take a photo of the tree with all of the cardinals in it to do it justice. I posted the photo of the tree just to share how it really was true what I was saying as 20 or more cardinals in a tree sounds like a stretch of the imagination. Here is the photo:

The Cardinal Tree

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34. WunderAlertBot (Admin)
4:34 AM GMT on February 08, 2014
WeatherWise has created a new entry.
33. BriarCraft
1:50 AM GMT on February 08, 2014
I left a comment on your video over on YouTube.

Because of that video, I have learned something. I have never seen a Pileated Woodpecker, aka Woody Woodpecker, but now I know I have heard them. And now I know when I hear those sounds, I will follow the sound and look up!

I saw that Duckumentary! It was wonderful. Nature does a great job and I enjoy all of their program, but that one was really special.
Member Since: June 21, 2004 Posts: 71 Comments: 3607
32. GardenGrrl
1:43 AM GMT on February 07, 2014
Hi Shirly, those pilateds are so magnificent. The cardinal tree, however, is just an amazing gift from nature.
Member Since: March 25, 2007 Posts: 244 Comments: 8892
31. ozgalah
10:54 PM GMT on February 06, 2014
Great shots, I got a picture of a barred owl when I visited my daughter in MN I was watering the garden this morning when a family of crested tits joined me but by the time I rushed in to get my camera they were gone, as usual!!!!
Member Since: November 25, 2008 Posts: 3 Comments: 874
30. WeatherWise
2:52 PM GMT on February 06, 2014
According to this morning's newspaper: Coal ash, the waste from coal combustion, usually contains arsenic, mercury, lead and several other heavy metals.

Quoted from the newspaper: Duke reported Tuesday that a 4-foot storm-water pipe under a 27-acre ash pond at the retired coal plant broke Sunday, allowing the toxic waste from coal combustion to spill into the river. The company estimated that 50,000 to 82,000 tons of ash and 24 to 27 million gallons of basin water entered the river. That’s enough to fill about 32 Olympic-size swimming pools. Standing between Danville’s drinking water and the coal waste flowing in the Dan River are the city’s wastewater treatment filters and the detergents its treatment plant uses to scrub the raw water of contaminants.

Still quoting: Drinking water has been safe all along, city officials said.

Quoting: Since Sunday, the raw water entering the city’s intake has contained coal ash, though the concentration level is decreasing, said Arnold Hendrix, the city spokesman. Test samples of the raw water at the city’s intake also show the presence of arsenic.

Quoting: “We have been able to remove the ash through routine treatment. No special treatment has been required. In addition, the first test samples of the treated water entering our distribution levels show routine treatment has reduced the level of arsenic to non-detectable levels. We continue testing as a precautionary measure, and we expect additional test results on Thursday,” Hendrix said.

Member Since: February 28, 2003 Posts: 19 Comments: 604
29. WeatherWise
1:36 PM GMT on February 06, 2014
Thanks, Sandy, for the bottled water advice. I am thankful for my city's great water treatment system that so far has worked in keeping the water safe for drinking. I will drink bottled water for awhile for my own peace of mind.

Sandi, thank you for viewing my movie digest of that exciting day in the woods with the pileated woodpecker. He does have an amazing call - one you never forget. I heard one pileated woodpecker call yesterday as I was heading towards the deadend. I rushed forward hoping to spot it but no luck. It was only that one continuous loud call and then nothing - not drumming or anything. I am hopeful they will return to the same nest but am unsure if they use their last nest over.

Sandi,I stopped by late last night to check on your weather as heard about some really high winds and several other things on the news as I was listening to NPR earlier in the day in the car. Then late last night on BBC News on PBS was talking of the same news. So thought I better see if you were near that area.
Member Since: February 28, 2003 Posts: 19 Comments: 604
28. sandiquiz
10:06 AM GMT on February 06, 2014
Morning to you. I came by yesterday and watched your video of the woodpecker... such an amazing call... then must have got sidetracked as I never left a comment!

We have a river up in Yorkshire that runs brown. It is a natural phenomenon and not man-made, like your problem. It is because the tributaries run through the peat moors. making the ground water brown.

I suggest you stick to the bottled water to drink and cook with for the time being!
Member Since: October 29, 2005 Posts: 277 Comments: 25307
27. WeatherWise
5:26 AM GMT on February 06, 2014
Thanks Ylee. I did not actually know I was getting a video. My camera was accidentally on movie digest mode. What that means is every time I take a shot the camera records video of all action from first shot to the last shot, all the way along my daily walk when it is on. That is how I got this video. If I were taking a planned video, I would not have been snapping and zooming like crazy. But it was great to have all of that action and loud pileated woodpecker calls on video. Plus lets you see the environment and woods where he lives, plus how you are lucky to ever get a great shot because he is never still or never in same position for over a second. You just keep snapping hoping to get a good shot.
Thank you for thoughts re: ash spill. One bad thing is Duke Energy has not stopped the leak yet so it is still spilling into the river. NOT good. Just going to drink bottled water for awhile as am uneasy about it. The news said water was okay to drink but...
Member Since: February 28, 2003 Posts: 19 Comments: 604
26. Ylee
4:59 AM GMT on February 06, 2014
The pileated is a handsome fellow! It must've been fun to video it in action! We have a red bellied woodpecker that likes to make a mess at the bird feeders. I don't mind, since they keep the feders from clogging, and it attracts several species that like to feed off the ground.

Sorry to hear of the ash spill; hopefully, the rains will help it get washed out faster!
Member Since: February 3, 2011 Posts: 86 Comments: 14569
25. WeatherWise
4:04 AM GMT on February 06, 2014
Thanks, Mike. Think I will drink bottle water for awhile.
Not sure if any of you watched PBS Nature: An Original Duckumentary. It is especially neat as it opens featuing a wood duck family and actually shows them in a nest high up in a hole in the tree. The eggs were layed one a day, but yet they all hatched within a day. The mother left them in the nest the first day but came back late in the day. The next morning she left them and went to the river or pond and started calling them - the ducks being hungry, climbed out of the nest and flew or fell down from the tree and bounced up and started walking and Mom still calling. They all headed to the water to their mom. So they are entirely different from other birds that the Mom and Dad feed them for weeks...none of that having to grow feathers or anything...pretty amazing. If you missed it you can watch it online.

Great PBS nature video and it features a wood duck family - like the wood duck I got a photo of Saturday.
Watch An Original DUCKumentary Online | Full Episode | Nature | PBS
Member Since: February 28, 2003 Posts: 19 Comments: 604
24. clearlakemike
3:44 AM GMT on February 06, 2014
Glad you got the video working, WW and sorry to hear about the spill. Hope your water stays safe.
Member Since: November 21, 2004 Posts: 137 Comments: 1542
23. WeatherWise
9:46 PM GMT on February 05, 2014
Thanks to two good WU friends I learned how to put my woodpecker adventure from last May into a comment. His calls are amazing - I think a hawk has been too near his nesting tree. I am not certain but certainly was an exciting rainy morn for me - there I was taking all of these photos from under a huge umbrella.
Member Since: February 28, 2003 Posts: 19 Comments: 604
22. WeatherWise
7:02 PM GMT on February 05, 2014
News is not so great from my area, today.
Coal-ash spill City: Danville's drinking water safe

The local newspaper stated that: Danville's drinking water remains safe, despite the coal-ash spill from Duke Energy's Dan River Steam Station in Eden, N.C.

It also stated that the spill has turned the normally brown waters of Dan River gray with ash residue, according to Barry Dunkley, director of water and wastewater treatment for Danville Utilities.

Though they say it is safe - I still worry.
Member Since: February 28, 2003 Posts: 19 Comments: 604
21. WeatherWise
7:02 PM GMT on February 05, 2014
Not great news here today.
And the river ran gray

Seems that Duke Energy is not sure of the time it will take to stop an ash leak. The leak actually changed the color of the water of the Dan River

The Dan River is gray from the ash spill. The usually brown after a rain has turned to gray according to the news. Paper stated that even some of the vegetation along its banks was covered in gray ash.

So not great and my concern is the drinking water.
Member Since: February 28, 2003 Posts: 19 Comments: 604
20. clearlakemike
6:13 PM GMT on February 05, 2014
WW, glad you got out for your walk. I sent the instructions for posting the video in email.

We had woodpeckers in the big old oak trees around our house when we lived next to Clear Lake in California. They are interesting birds. Unfortunately, they started pecking at the wood siding on some of the houses also, including ours. We had to patch the holes and put shiny aluminum strips of mylar, I think it was, to scare them off the houses. They put the strips on the posts in the nearby vineyards also as the birds were pinching the wine grapes too, lol.
Member Since: November 21, 2004 Posts: 137 Comments: 1542
18. WeatherWise
1:58 PM GMT on February 05, 2014
Member Since: February 28, 2003 Posts: 19 Comments: 604
17. WeatherWise
11:22 PM GMT on February 04, 2014
I found my video link. You can hear me snapping and zooming as I don't think I knew I even had it on movie digest. Am thinking it was just an accident as I usually shoot on auto. This video shows you just how exciting it was for me to be there getting photos of these beautiful birds and just how challenging it is to get a still shot of a bird that is never still. Except this was an unusual day: First of all it was raining and I was doing all of this under a great big umbrella, Second, there is something going on and he is quite upset - at about point 1.19 in video I almost think I hear a hawk. I suspect that was what was going on. (I was taking a photo one day of Mother feeding babies when a hawk swooped down and completly covered them up or blanketed them from my viewfinder. I worried for days as to whether the hawk had gotten one of the babies.) At any rate, take a walk with me and see how exciting being with the pileated woodpeckers really are. You will hear me snapping and zooming as did not know I was taking a video but am so GLAD I was. I think you will understand my excitement and passion about the woodpecker and me hanging out with them for hours some days.

Pileated woodpecker video

This particular photo is after all of the excitement died down and I hung out until their next feeding. At that stage, one adult was staying in with the babies while the other brought food in - My caption for that photo said: Male pileated woodpecker is taking care of his family. Making really loud calls like KING of the JUNGLE(aka that would be woods). Definitely feeding either mom or babes or all - not sure as all are tucked out of sight for now.
Member Since: February 28, 2003 Posts: 19 Comments: 604
16. WeatherWise
10:37 PM GMT on February 04, 2014
Just lost my comment due to some extra click or stroke of key - oh, well, you know how that makes you lose your train of thought but will try to recap. It went something like this: Hi Calpoppy! And I was thanking your for giving more info on the Joshua tree and how I had searched on WU. I found a tree but in very same series was a very close-up of something with a huge red blossom. Somehow I did not think that would belong to such a small Joshua tree. That is why I asked what color. Thank you for checking out my barred owl. It was not a planned shot as I did not see an owl. I saw a large mass over in the woods about the size of a squirrel's nest. I thought it looked interesting and took a shot of it as the cardinals I was chasing up the tree were not being great models. When the photo appeared for review in the camera, it was an owl. I pressed forward too quickly to get a better view - the owl flew! One chance shot - no second chance at all. Gone like - WHAT OWL - I didn't see an owl except in the viewfinder after the fact.

Reminds me of a story back when I was teaching. It was a fun activity day- a nature treasure hunt where all the classes went outside with a list of certain things to find in nature. I had my whole third grade class and we were walking along the back fence of the ball field. We were all looking for something - not sure what - when I noticed a stick and reminded me we were a bit too close to that fence. Before I could ask everyone to move away from the fence that stick moved. I yelled SNAKE and the whole class ran like crazy following me to the other side of ball field before we stopped. And there was little Johnny (his name really was Johnny) still over by the fence all baffled saying, "WHAT SNAKE I AIN"T SEE NO SNAKE!" I am standing there so upset because he did not run with us. One girl said to me, BOY, MRS. W. I LEARNED ONE THING, YOU SURE CAN RUN!"

Hi Mike. I did think you shot the video but still it is a great video of the beautiful bird and even called out during video. I have a YouTube video of the Pileated Woodpecker that I actually got one day when I had the camera on movie digest as I was shooting. That means you can hear me snapping camera but was so exciting with the bird calls that I kept the sound with the video. I will have to dig the link out and post it. You will have to teach me how to link a YouTube video in a comment as if I ever knew I have forgotten.

Yes, I did get out for my walk but as mentioned earlier my weather is a roller coaster. Sun was shining before I left and I did not take an umbrella as no sign of rain. Yes, it started to rain when I was at my farthest point from home. I had just gotten to the Cardinal tree as it started to rain big drops. I did not mind the rain but did not want my camera to get wet. So put camera around my neck and covered it with both gloved hands and kept it dry all the way home. I got in a bit of extra walking as my battery started dying earlier as I passed my street coming back from first dead end. I headed back home to get battery - no, I did not carry my extra battery. Got my battery and headed back down street and then on to the far dead end to the cardinal tree only to be hit by rain. However was a great walk and saw lots of robins and little birds. Have not looked at my photos yet but think I might have some to share.
Member Since: February 28, 2003 Posts: 19 Comments: 604
15. clearlakemike
7:53 PM GMT on February 04, 2014
Quoting 13. WeatherWise:
Thanks for stopping by Mike! Your redbird is so cute and like all birds so active. He even made his call for you! Great video! Thank you for sharing! Have a wonderful afternoon. I am really heading out for my walk now, though it is a bit cold 43 but wind is blowing and making it feel cooler. I better go before I talk myself out of it.

I didn't make the video but thank you. I have a hard time just trying to take a still shot of them. But I usually have my dog yanking me around on the other arm. I just took her out for a short walk...72 up here at my house now. Hopefully, you are out despite the cold.
Member Since: November 21, 2004 Posts: 137 Comments: 1542
14. calpoppy
7:44 PM GMT on February 04, 2014
I should have realized that people back east wouldn't know what a Joshua was!!! Sorry I should have explained about them. You can't know all the plants species! At least I sure don't.

The Joshua's blooms are white, very large and not really attractive until you get up close. There is a particular moth that pollinates them, the Yucca moth. But they are so big and come out so fast that it is amazing to me. It has to take a great deal of energy to produce such a flower!

The barred owl is sure neat! I can never get close enough to owls out here to take a decent pic. I just see their backs as the fly away. We have barn and Great Horned owls here.

Member Since: February 18, 2008 Posts: 47 Comments: 3323
13. WeatherWise
7:32 PM GMT on February 04, 2014
Thanks for stopping by Mike! Your redbird is so cute and like all birds so active. He even made his call for you! Great video! Thank you for sharing! Have a wonderful afternoon. I am really heading out for my walk now, though it is a bit cold 43 but wind is blowing and making it feel cooler. I better go before I talk myself out of it.
Member Since: February 28, 2003 Posts: 19 Comments: 604
12. clearlakemike
6:48 PM GMT on February 04, 2014
Thanks WW for stopping by my blog. Hopefully, you won't find it a frightening experience. I liked your cardinal tree and added to my photo gallery. I counted 10 cardinals. We see cardinals here sometimes but mostly saffron finches and java sparrows. We hear the native `apapane and occasionally see them. They stay high in the trees.

Our bird population has dwindled since the cat colony arrival.

Member Since: November 21, 2004 Posts: 137 Comments: 1542
11. WeatherWise
5:24 PM GMT on February 04, 2014
Think WU folk and according to field guide it is a barred owl.
Member Since: February 28, 2003 Posts: 19 Comments: 604
10. sandiquiz
5:15 PM GMT on February 04, 2014
Heavens, what a convoluted way to get your owl photo!
I haven't heard of WU Icelandic, but do know there are WU sites right around the world. I once dropped onto the Spanish version by mistake and wondered why I couldn't read it!! lol

Love your photo of the you know which species it is? It looks like our tawny owl.
Member Since: October 29, 2005 Posts: 277 Comments: 25307
9. WeatherWise
4:44 PM GMT on February 04, 2014
Thanks BriarCraft and Sandy! I really felt lucky to have the photo op with the wood duck and wanted to go right back the next day but did not. I do enjoy my walks - some days I get nothing like yesterday and other days I come home with loads of fun photo ops. You can actually walk and see nothing. It is more to it than just walking - of course looking but mainly listening and then following the sound. Birds let you know they are there with their songs and calls. It is up to you to then find them. Some calls are from afar like way up in a tree in a backyard somewhere or from over on the other side of the woods somewhere. I hear the owls almost daily going whoo-hooooot whoo-hooooot back and forth to each other but can not spot them. The one that I did spot years ago was not because of hearing him at all. I was taking a few shots of cardinals up in a tree at the edge of the woods on the other deadend - not the end with the cardinal tree that I discovered last year. This was quite by accident - being disillusioned with the cardinals not cooperating - I spotted an interesting looking mass over in the woods like perhaps a squirrel's nest. I took a shot of it and it came up in the viewfinder as an owl. I moved forward too quickly to get a closer shot and it flew. I got a one time shot of an owl - so second chance at all. It was perched on a flimsy lower vine swing like branch between the trees. It is posted on WU but seems my photos are unavailable right now except for in the main gallery - WU snaffu - and I am not complaining at all as I am sure maintenance of all of these heavy files is amazingly great. When it is available I will share it with you. Well, I found it through through a websearch as search on WU was not working. Have you ever heard of islandic.wundergroung? At any rate, here it is!
My Owl

Member Since: February 28, 2003 Posts: 19 Comments: 604
8. sandiquiz
9:29 AM GMT on February 04, 2014
Good morning to you.

I love the photos of the wood ducks, they are such colourful birds and put the simple mallard we have here to shame! lol

I had a discussion with P-Bug about the swings in temperatures you seem to have in the States. One day she was 30, and the next up in the 60's!

Here in the UK we do not get such violent swings. Over the last month it has averaged 34 overnight then during the day it's only struggled up to the high 40's. I haven't seen a 50 plus temp since last November!

Member Since: October 29, 2005 Posts: 277 Comments: 25307
7. BriarCraft
6:51 AM GMT on February 04, 2014
You got some very nice pictures on your latest walk. What a wonderful place you have to take those walks when the weather cooperates! Lucky you.

I just took a look at your forecast -- my goodness, your weather is all over the place. I'm not sure if you'll have much opportunity for walks this week.
Member Since: June 21, 2004 Posts: 71 Comments: 3607
6. WeatherWise
1:47 AM GMT on February 04, 2014
Hi Calpoppy, Thanks for sharing your Joshua tree photo! VERY nice! I did a little homework today after asking you such dumb questions. I did a search on Joshua trees and found the Joshua Tree National Park. They even had a map showing me a good idea of the area you were describing to us. Very interesting! What color are the blossoms when they are in bloom and how long do the blooms stay on there? Here I am with more questions. While I was looking at the also came to me your nickname Calpoppy - the California Poppy Reserve. So I learned all kinds of neat things from your blog today. Very interesting tour - Thank you! Thank you for checking out my blog today and leaving me a nice note.
Member Since: February 28, 2003 Posts: 19 Comments: 604
5. calpoppy
9:49 PM GMT on February 03, 2014
No Joshua trees for you :) They are only in the high desert areas of the western US. We have many of them on our 5 acres. They are a member of the yucca family and thus a member of the lily family.

Here is a pic of them that I took down the road from me after a light snowfall.

Member Since: February 18, 2008 Posts: 47 Comments: 3323
4. WeatherWise
7:14 PM GMT on February 03, 2014
Hi Calpoppy! Thanks for checking out my wood duck photo op! It was quite exciting - I had no idea they were so pretty, nor did I know they were SO much smaller than the mallards. They looked like little kids running around amongst them. You must live in a very dry climate as only 2.66 inches rain for the year - Are you speaking of 2013 or just for January 2014. I am assuming you meant 2013. Your Joshua tree sounds neat - Hope you will post photos or perhaps you already. I will check. Don't think we have those in my area - anymore, I am reluctant to say out and out we do not as someone will surely prove me wrong. At any rate, I think I am safe to say they are not common to my area. Wow, wild flowers already? I was noticing that some little or big critter is keeping my ice plant like a nub....I am afraid it is going to completely disappear any day now. Thanks for stopping by - headed over to check out your blog.
Member Since: February 28, 2003 Posts: 19 Comments: 604
3. calpoppy
5:19 PM GMT on February 03, 2014
Wood ducks are one of my favorites too! Nice shots!! I like the Cardinal tree also, they look like large berries, LOL! Glad to see you are warming up a tad. We still have had no precip! A measly 2.66" of rain for the rain year here. But the Joshua Trees have decided to bloom early (usually March/April) and the blooms are always amazing. They come out so fast and so big! There are some wildflowers poking out of the ground, a little more rain and we might have a nice wildflower show!
Member Since: February 18, 2008 Posts: 47 Comments: 3323
2. WeatherWise
4:43 PM GMT on February 03, 2014
Yes, Bug. A walk on Monday and then frozen inside until Friday. So a walk on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday! Thank you - it was really exciting folowing the wood ducks along the river. I was in awe when I checked out all of my photos after I got back home.

What have you been up to? I am going to check out your blog, next.
Member Since: February 28, 2003 Posts: 19 Comments: 604
1. palmettobug53
2:59 PM GMT on February 02, 2014
Morning, WW. Happy Groundhog Day.

I see you were finally able to get out and take a walk.

Love the wood ducks. They are among my favorites.
Member Since: October 7, 2005 Posts: 229 Comments: 24576

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About WeatherWise

I have been blogging for about 3 months now. Started a blog for the New Year 2014! It's almost April Fools! That was always such a fun day as a child.

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