March Snowstorms and Wildlife

Before the storm. Taken during a hike on February 28, this photo of migrating geese marked the end of a winter thaw and bare ground.

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The storm. Over the next 24 hours, “Winter Storm Warning” messages appeared, predicting the collision of two approaching storms, high winds and the accumulation of deep, heavy snow. We escaped the damaging winds, but received 25 to 30 inches of snow on March 2. Hazardous roads and a travel ban kept me home, but that worked to my advantage. I shoveled often and took frequent breaks to observe and photograph wildlife around the bird feeders.

Blizzard photography. Photographing wildlife in a snowstorm is no small feat. I was photo-bombed three times! First, by a “white-out” of blowing snow that ruined a cardinal portrait……..

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Then, by a another cardinal that blocked an attempt at a starling portrait….

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And, finally, as often happens when there is a lot of songbird activity in late winter, a Cooper’s Hawk decided to visit my “fly-through restaurant” and hunt songbirds. This is the most dramatic sort of photo bomb, because dozens of songbirds can disappear in a wink when a hawk appears… and they’re in no hurry to return.

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It was nearly an hour before things returned to normal. The feeders were again bustling with activity, and I got some portraits.

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After the storm. Lengthening days and more intense solar radiation soften the impact of these late winter snowstorms. The snow melts faster and lots of critters are thinking ahead to Spring. This chipmunk tunneled through deep snow near the feeders, assumed a vantage point on the high ground, and “chucked” repeatedly, as if to say “Spring is in the air…and this is my breeding territory!”. The snow didn’t seem to be quite as deep or heavy after this heart-warming encounter.

 

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Photos by NB Hunter (Feb. 28 to March 3, 2018). © All Rights Reserved.