An Autumn Snow

Fresh snow on the vernal pond at Nahant MarshAn autumn storm turned Nahant Marsh into a winter wonderland for a time. Although winter itself is still some ways off, a substantial snow fell in mid November, sticking to the trees and meadows of the marsh in a thick white covering. The warm earth, nowhere near to freezing, stayed soft and yielding under the blanket of deep, powdery snow.

A canada goose stands on the new ice at Nahant MarshThe cold that brought the snow did freeze the surface of the marsh at least thick enough to hold the birds. The geese at the marsh—not as many as earlier in the autumn but still quite a few, stood around on the ice. Some curled up for a rest while their flock mates kept watch. Many gulls rested out in the middle of the ice too.

A November snow lies along a branch melting into iciclesNot all the water was ice, the unfrozen ground and its insulating cover of snow kept watery puddles liquid yet hidden. Just a skim of ice was enough to hold a concealing layer of snow. And the ice where the geese were standing may well have been just thick enough to hold a goose and not much more. It was soft autumn snow and ice, not quite like that of hard, deep winter.

Morning after an autumn snow storm at Nahant MarshThe soft snow and new ice did not last long. The clinging snow slipped from the branches within hours. After only a day or so of temperatures cold enough to keep the snow from melting, late autumn weather resumed—including drenching rains on Thanksgiving Day. All of the snow and ice was washed away.

Nahant Marsh, now in shades of grays and browns, still unfrozen and full of autumn rain, heads day by day into winter. Although the first snow of the season did not last long, no doubt other snows will follow—just in case you missed it—on the long journey to spring.

First edge of morning sun after an autumn snowfall at Nahant Marsh

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Autumn Flying By

Geese in the autumn morning light at Nahant MarshA pair of mallards at Nahant MarshAutumn is flying by at Nahant Marsh. Although the days roll by no faster nor slower than the usual pace, they do seem to slip away more quickly. The sun rises late, and nights grow longer. The green has been replaced by browns and golds, and the marsh is once again host to many bird travelers.

Serving as a rest stop along the busy Mississippi flyway, Nahant Marsh offers food and a place to nap and preen. All the usual travelers are there. Large numbers of mallards and wood ducks have been out on the water, busily snacking tasty morsels off the surface of the water. Other kinds of ducks have been seen enjoying the marsh, too.

Flocks of canada geese at Nahant MarshCanada geese by the hundreds come and go every day as the autumn flies by. Occasionally I’ve seen a group of them accompanied by a single snow goose. I can’t really be sure if it’s the same snow goose and his Canada geese friends, or if there is more than one group of Canada geese traveling with a mostly white companion.

Geese take flight on an early morning in autumn at Nahant MarshThe daily arrivals and departures, with their lively sound track of goose voices calling and talking animatedly with one another, take place on a landscape glowing with brief autumn gold. The transient, fragile nature of each autumn’s lovely color means it changes quickly—even now it is fading, going brown and gray, as swirling leaves blow away in every gust of wind.

Autumn is flying by. Like the many birds, like the leaf filled winds, like the quickly changing colors, it seems that time is flying faster than ever, and will be gone before you know it.

Autumn morning at Nahant Marsh


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