Winter arrives in Central Park

I have fallen in love with Central Park, and all it took was a sparkling coat of snow. I arrived very early in the morning, when instead of the usual bustle of tourists, the park was awash with sparrow, jays, cardinals, geese, ducks and squirrels slipping and sliding around on a glittering white background. The thick blanket of snow absorbed a lot of the city noise, which was replaced with a far more pleasing cacophony of bird chatter. Ponds have taken on a bright new lustre, proudly showing off their icy surfaces, and waterfalls are busy forming dazzling displays of icicles. Winding pathways have left behind their shadowy, leaf-lined appearance and now glow eerily in the pale winter light. It is utterly delightful.

My first glimpse of Central Park’s winter splendour when I wandered in at 72nd St
First bird of the day, playing coy for the camera.
First squirrel of the day – doesn’t know the meaning of coy.
Skulking surreptitiously in the undergrowth
Is it just me, or does this look like a snow mouse with a mohawk?

I took a northbound trail, and soon found a huge gaggle of geese, skedaddling across sheets of ice, taking hugely comic tumbles as their poor little webbed feet shot out from under them. Some of the braver (or more foolhardy) souls attempted dramatic landings on the slippery surfaces, only to shoot off the edge of the ice sheets and plummet face first into the water. At some point, most of them gave up and just hunkered down for a rest to watch a small group of birds huddled together in the water, swimming incessantly in one big, clustered, swirling circle. It was mesmerising to watch them. I don’t know how they didn’t get dizzy.

Watching the whirling dervishes

Pucker up

Birdy footprints in the snow

As I wandered deeper into the park, I passed a waterfall and noticed icy outcrops starting to form on rocks midstream. Upon closer inspection, I discovered cascades of icicles forming underneath the rocks lining the waterfall.

Snowy waterfall
Icy outcrops midstream
Icicle clusters
Icicles are every bit as brilliant as diamonds. Diamonds are longer-lived, however.
The three icicles on the right make me think of Wallace’s legs (off Wallace and Gromit) with a walking stick.

I then found my way to a small valley which was home to flocks of birds. There were traces of birdseed and peanuts scattered around, much to the delight of the sparrows, jays and squirrels, telling tales of earlier park visitors joyfully ignoring signs not to feed the wildlife. The wildlife seemed quite happy with the lawlessness of the situation.

Squirrel clutches his contraband peanut close to his chest, on the lookout for law enforcement
Another squirrel snuffles through the snow looking for food
Cold, isn’t it?
Looks like he’s making do with a tasty nugget of snow
One of these birds is not like the other ones…can you spot the odd one out?
Standing tall
The over-the-shoulder pose makes you look thinner, I read it in Hello magazine

Around the corner, another pond, lined with gorgeous red berries and rapidly freezing over. My eye was caught by a line of ice crystals beginning to form, and a frosty trail of thin ice over fast moving water that snaked its way through the thicker ice of slower moving waters.

Ice crystals, a work in progress
Thin ice trail

And now it was time for the grand finale. I happened upon a spot heaped high with trunks and branches of downed trees, and the birdsong that emanated from the twiggy depths was overwhelming. I stood stock still to see who would come out to say hello. Less than a minute later, out popped the brightest, cheeriest birds imaginable – flashy red male northern cardinals, their subtler but just as stunning female counterparts and blue jays – and settled on the branches and railings right next to me, undeterred by my presence, despite (or perhaps because of) my bright yellow hat.

Where did you get that peanut?

I suspect I shall spend quite a bit of time here this winter.

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10 thoughts on “Winter arrives in Central Park”

    1. Oh those show-stealing squirrels! Loved your squirrel convention, and the fact that we were wandering round the same park yesterday and ended up with completely different shots. x

  1. Excellent photographs as usual, thank you! I took a virtual walk around the park with you. I have a friend flying to NY today, I will send her the link to this post so she can really take that walk!

    1. It really is lovely when it’s snowing in New York. It’s been oddly snow-free so far this winter, just a little last weekend and an unusually early shower back in October. I’m hoping there’ll be a proper snowfall in February. Hope your friend has a good trip. x

  2. WOW. Glad I backtracked and saw these. Great shots. Love the jay with the little brown birds – and the icicles….and the geese on the ice…and the snow mouse…so many good shots – you are good with texture, reflection and contrast. Nice job

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