Winter officially begins
Ironically coinciding with the winter solstice, that bitter cold snap is finally behind us, thank goodness. This morning I saw a Winter wren, two Hermit thrushes, two Red-tailed hawks, and a few other birds while walking behind the Staunton-Augusta Rescue Squad. (That volunteer unit recently announced it plans to begin charging for ambulance pickups, sparking some local controversy.) A Sharp-shinned hawk buzzed the back yard once again. It has been cooler than normal for most of the past year, from what I've observed. The recent single-digit temperatures remind me how thankful we should be to all the sheep who get shorn every year just so we "hairless apes" can stay warm and comfy during these bleak months. I love wool!
This Dark-eyed junco is one of the nicer things about the winter months. You can see them occasionally in the higher elevations in Virginia during the summer, but here in the lowlands they are only seen from October or November through April.