February 10, 2014 — The long, cold winter

Although I dodged the polar vortex while bouncing around England, winter has continued holding us in its loving hands (or icy grip).  That’s been great for eagle photography, though it was horrible for Eagle Day in Canton.  Hardly anyone showed up to my talk at the lockhouse, and only the usual suspects showed up for the wine and cheese opening of the photo show.  Some of our people could not even make it to the show to hang their art because the roads were so bad.  

One day I came home from shooting eagles and a hundred starlings were mobbing the cedar tree in my neighbors yard, eating the abundant little blue berries. I rolled down the passenger window and fired away. Some robins were with them, then a small flock of cedar waxwings joined up.  Bonus!  I got some of the best pics I’ve ever taken of lovely cedar waxwings, which for some reason are shy of me.
After finding my 24-105 mm zoom lens a little too tight for the narrow streets of London, I decided to get a wide-angle lens.  I chose a relatively inexpensive Tokina 12-24.  It has been a surprisingly good lens.  I took some shots of buildings around Canton, then lucked into a case of sundogs (little rainbows on either side of the sun).  The last time I shot sundogs I had to take two frames and stitch them together.  Not needed with the wide angle.  It also does very well indoors.  
Big Guy loves the snow, but Stacey and I took advantage of a rare warm (50 F) day to go for a walk.  I harnessed him up and had him pull me around on a skateboard.  Success would have been no broken bones, but we exceeded that.  If I had a better board it would be a lot more fun.  
The cold and snow led to a snow day and a half for me. I took Big Guy down to the levy and we cross-country skied on it.  He didn’t pull me much, but I wasn’t expecting him to.  We started with the wind in our faces, and I thought I wouldn’t last 50 meters.  When we turned west we had the wind at our back, and my numb face began to thaw.  I had equipped his harness with some saddlebags, holding water and treats.  He did appreciate the treats.  Canada geese flew over, honking and heading south to presumably find some open water. The route took us through town.  A guy was digging his Mini Cooper out of a snow drift.  As I skied by with the dog, I asked, “Shall I hook him up?”  We both had icicle-covered beards at the end.  I took a selfie and we look remarkably similar.  
Stacey and I went down to the riverfront one day and some juvenile eagles were eating frozen fish on the shoreline.  This behavior is rare, and I tried to get some shots.  They were kind of skittish, but I did get some as they returned to their fish sticks.  Stacey heard the “scream” of an eagle for the first time, which actually sounds more like a series of chirps.
The sub-zero temperatures and foot of snow have concentrated birds at our feeders as well.  We have seldom had good light, but it’s hard to resist photographing them.  A rare Carolina wren even showed up at the feeder.
I could tell we were going to run out of firewood within the week, so I made a run out to Lowell’s.  The good part was that I didn’t have to cut much wood, as the logs we had cut in previous years were still in pretty good shape, and there was more volume than I thought.  The bad part was that my trailer tires utterly failed, and I ended up moving all the wood into Lowell’s trailer just to get it home.  I have spared you the description of every excruciating thing that went wrong along the way. In any case, Stacey was to be well supplied while I was gone the following weekend.
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