The Quiet of Winter

Savoring quiet—that’s what I did recently at Walden Ponds/Sawhill Ponds, a gravel mine turned wildlife reserve in east Boulder County.

Mine was the only vehicle in the snowy parking lot, around noon on a Friday. Cottonwood Marsh was white, as was the sky. Beth Partin's photos, Walden Ponds, wildlife reserve Boulder CountyI saw a red-tailed hawk on a power line and an eagle even farther away, but I couldn’t hear any birds calling. The ponds were frozen, with only a few cracks to indicate an upcoming thaw. The only noise was traffic pacing the edges of the wildlife reserve.

I hiked back to the “woods” and, to my delight, easily found a great horned owl sleeping on a broken snag that formed an inverted V. A jogger in red sped by so quickly I didn’t have time to point out the owl. He was the only person I saw for most of my hike.

I couldn’t find any signs of a nest, though owls have nested in this area for years. No doubt it was too well hidden. A hairy woodpecker’s high-pitched call broke the silence, and a chickadee buzzed its warning.

On my way back I noticed bird tracks intersecting mine. This great blue heron must have crossed the trail while I was hiking.Beth Partin's photos, great blue heron, Walden Ponds