Friday, 1 January 2016

Walking on (frozen) water

The temperature here in Jeziorki has been below zero for three and half days, with a night-time low of -10C. Having seen whole families wandering out onto the frozen pond yesterday, I decided that today would be more than safe to do likewise. And indeed it was. The ice beneath my feet was three-four inches (75-100mm) thick.

On my walk yesterday afternoon, I snapped our swans on what would be their last day on the pond. The final hole in the ice closed over in the night, plus the barrage of New Year's fireworks, would have persuaded the swans to finally quit Jeziorki and head south for the winter.

Below: by this morning the ice hole had frozen over totally, there were no swans - just feathers and down remain to remind us of their presence.

Below: swans and ice do not go well together. Swans can get frostbite if forced to stand on ice for any length of time. I hope to see our swans back in late March.

Below: the solid ice allows me to explore on foot parts of the wetlands that are normally inaccessible. In past years when I've been here, there's been snow cover. This year, the drought conditions persist.

Below: here, where the reeds are tallest, the wetlands are bone-dry; mud that was too spongy to walk on has frozen over. The reeds are up to 2.5m tall. Here in spring, birds will mate, lay eggs, raise chicks, away from human interference.

Back on the ice, I look down to examine it in detail (below). Trapped in it are methane bubbles, rising from the rotting vegetation on the pond's bed. And often I'd see small fish darting ahead of my shadow as it crossed the surface of the ice. Anglers like fishing here, but the fish I saw today were not much bigger than sticklebacks.

Low water levels are visible at the retention ponds by ul. Kórnicka (below). The usual water level is seen by looking at the gabions - where the dried-out algae clogs the steel netting.

Below: the sun, low in the sky, sunset soon and the temperature will start falling from its daytime high of -6C.

Below: back at the southern end of the pond, having walked over 2km across ice today. Low sun, blue sky and ice hit the Sublime Aesthetic button for me every time!

This time last year:
Fireworks herald 2015 in Jeziorki

This time two years ago
Jeziorki welcomes 2014

This time three years ago:
LOT's second Dreamliner over Jeziorki

This time four years ago:
New Year's coal train


John Savery said...

The sub-zero temperatures and the clear blue skies in Warszawa of the past few days come across superbly in your photographs. A happy new year to you and your family.

Michael Dembinski said...

@ John Savery

Many thanks John - after spending seven of the last nine weeks in London, it's a relief to get back to Warsaw and proper winter sunshine! All the very best to you in 2016.