Saturday, 15 February 2014

Off to New York - the long way round!

A 5am start to catch our flight from Dulles to JFK.  Unfortunately on checking in we were advised that our flight had been cancelled and we had been booked onto a Sunday evening flight...we joined a long queue to try to discuss what other options might be available and over two hours later were offered a flight from Ronald Reagan Airport in Washington to La Guardia.

We accepted the offer of a 1 pm flight and the above photo shows the main concourse at Reagan airport.

Our flight made good time, not least because there were only 14 of us - mostly cabin crew who had ended up in the wrong place after the snow.

We then spent a further two hours on a shuttle bus to get to our hotel through the New York traffic and snow.

We were pleased to arrive at our hotel, the New Yorker which we hope is well placed for sightseeing.

Our room, on the 32nd floor, has a great view which would be even better if the top ten or so floors of the hotel were not shrouded in scaffolding.

Nonetheless the view is worth capturing..

This evening we walked along 34th Street to Macy 's and beyond but in driving snow it was not very pleasant so we turned back after taking a few photos..

We are hoping for a clearer day tomorrow..

Friday, 14 February 2014

Sunshine and Snow

This morning the sun was shining and the view from the kitchen window was bright and sparkling.  

As the snow melted, the icicles which were forming on the gutters started to lengthen..

When we went to the supermarket there were impressive walls of snow created by  snow ploughing the car park.  We wondered just how long it will take for these to melt..

Back home again, after we had expended huge energy on moving enough snow to enable the postman to access our mailbox with his van, David turned his attention to fulfilling a promise made to Lauren to create a 'snowcat'.

We anticipate that it may still be here waiting for us when we get back from New York..

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Serious Snow!

At first light everything was looking very white, very quiet and untouched - it had snowed steadily through the night and snow was still falling.

The birds were initially slow to turn up but were soon here as the snow eased.

Our big new suet roll attracted the attention of our biggest bird visitor..

He soon worked out how to balance..

As you can tell I have been gainfully employed watching the birds whilst at least one of our neighbours has been expending a little more energy..

This afternoon two young boys who live along the road turned up and offered to clear the drive.  Initially I (and they) thought it was going to be too much for them ..

But with only a little bit of help from me they did a good job..

David is at last on the last leg of his journey home - he flew from Houston to Miami and is now on his way back to Dulles where there is one runway open - most of the flights in and out have been cancelled.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Winter Storm 'Pax'

There was a great deal of bird activity around the feeders today, presumably in advance of the latest winter storm which has now arrived.  There were starlings on the feeders for most of the day. - the first time I have seen them here.

I put out a new, large, suet feeder which was soon discovered by a succession of visitors..

The Pileated Woodpecker also flew in but did not succeed in landing on it, so settled for an old fence post instead..

Later he was tapping away on a tree in the garden.

I am still in pursuit of a decent photo but he does not stay still and when close by is very quick to spot any movement at all.

The snow is falling quite heavily this evening and unfortunately, David's flight home from Salt Lake City via Denver has been cancelled, along with many others due to land at Dulles Airport this evening.  

He will be spending the night in Houston and hopefully returning here on a flight tomorrow afternoon.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Taking to the Road?

Today I went (by bus) to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles to start the process of obtaining my American driving license.  I took (and passed - hurrah!) the road sign and driver knowledge tests so can now take the road skills test...

David's travels today were a little more extensive as he flew to Layton in Utah via Chicago.

The mountains which can be seen in the distance in this photo, taken from the hotel, include a peak called Ben Lomond, said to have inspired the Paramount pictures 'snow capped mountain' logo.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Countdown to Valentines Day

Our local supermarket is keen to ensure that their customers do not overlook the fact that it is Valentine's Day on Friday.

The display above is groaning with treats such as suitably shaped and coloured cookies and cakes for the sweet- toothed sweetheart.

Or you can push the boat out with a romantic bouquet of red roses or a 'cute' cellophane wrapped soft toy with chocolates and a helium balloon to top it off!

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Winter in the Woods

Although the day was dull, grey and cold, we decided that some fresh air would do us good and set off on the footpath through the woods.

We were quite surprised to see this rather large and handsome bird - which once we checked our book at home we were able to identify as a Red Shouldered Hawk.  He was about 18 inches or more from head to tail.  When we first saw him he was on the ground having, we assume, tried to catch a small mammal or bird.  If the latter, it might explain the white 'splash' on his face..

Walking on we saw a Yellow-Crowned Kinglet (Goldcrest) but were unable to photograph him as he flitted about.   

We then came across a flock of American Robins (a misnomer, they are members of the thrush family).  They were systematically working their way through a group of holly bushes, stripping  the berries.  We were surprised that the berries had lasted this long given the cold weather.

There are few signs of Spring in the woods.  A few snowdrops are beginning to show but mostly everything is dead and any lying water is frozen.   In one of the streams running through the woods we could see from the bridge several grasses or reeds that were trapped between stones just above the water and had become glazed with ice.

As we returned home a few flakes of snow were falling and half an hour or so later it was quite white outside..