The weather here in the Catskill Mountains on this mid-January Saturday was terrific - sunny skies and temperatures in the 40s; a great day to spend out-of-doors and enjoy the fresh air. On an early afternoon walk with our beagle, Tessie, we were surprised to see how much snow and ice had melted in the summer pasture. The trails were still challenging, with ice in the lower shadowy places, and seemingly frozen ground giving way to our footsteps when least expected, requiring good balance to pull our feet out of the mud beneath.
We ambled along the Willowemoc and were happy to see it so full (a check with the USGS website after we returned showed that the Beaverkill at Cooks Falls was flowing at 771 cubic feet per second, which is well above the average flow on this date of 310 cfs.) The water was a bit discolored but relatively calm, and I let Tessie explore the tall weeds for scent as I gazed out across the pool, looking for rises. The sun was warm, the air still - and sure enough, I saw what looked like a dimple in the surface, followed by another. We walked down toward the tail of the pool and noticed a bright flash near the left bank, under some hemlocks. I heard the chittering of a bird and watched as a kingfisher swooped across the stream, dipped near that flash, and then alighted in one of the trees - a minute later, another flash - and it chittered and swooped down near the same location, then flew back across the stream again. I was satisfied to see a couple more dimples in the water, confirming that there were indeed some active members of the finny tribes also enjoying this day.