Major Early Snowstorm and its Aftermath

Large White Pine tree broken behind White Memorial's
Museum after the 10/29/2011 snowstorm
photo by Dave Rosgen
Shrubs flattened by 10/29/2011 snowstorm
at White Memorial's Wheeler Hill
photo by Dave Rosgen
White Memorial's Pt. Folly Marsh
2 days after the snowstorm
photo by Dave Rosgen
Bald Eagle photo by Paul Fusco from
Winterberry Holly photo by Dave Rosgen
Pokeberry photo by Dave Rosgen
Eastern Bluebird photo from
Fox Sparrow photo by Bob Stanowski
Connecticut was pounded by a record-breaking early Nor'easter snowstorm from around 1 p.m. on Saturday, 10/29/2011, through sunrise on Sunday, 10/30/2011. It dropped 20" of snow on White Memorial and was accompanied by high winds for about 8 hours. This spelled disaster for many trees, shrubs, and other plants which were either flattened by the heavy, wet snow, or broke under its weight. Power was knocked out to the Museum Area for 9 days. Much of the tree damage involved broken limbs or sections of trunk rather than entire trees being blown over as happened during the tropical storms in August and September. Still, damage is extensive, and it will take quite a while to get all of our trails cleared despite the Herculean efforts of our great maintenance crew. A major savior to our wildlife (especially the birds) through all of this mess has been the super abundance of berries, nuts, and seeds. Though it was rendered unavailable for a while after the snowstorm, rapid melting of the snow exposed much of these foods within 12 hours. Therefore, I doubt that much, if any, starvation occurred among our wildlife. One exception would be totally insectivorous birds, but virtually all of them had already migrated south before this storm. One species just beginning to migrate south through here now is the Fox Sparrow. Bird feeders can greatly help these birds through foul weather, and that proved to be the case for the feeders behind the museum. In addition to hosting a ton of White-throated Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos, and other common birds after the snowstorm, they also fed 3 Fox Sparrows for a week. Since then we've seen this species feeding on weed seeds along the Little Pond Trail and at the Butterfly Garden. Some people expressed concern for American Robins, Eastern Bluebirds, and Cedar Waxwings after the storm, but they are doing just fine chowing down on an abundance of Winterberry Holly and Pokeweed berries. Waterbirds seemed to be unphased by the storm since Bantam Lake and most of our ponds (except Cemetery) remained ice free. Bald Eagles and other raptors seemed to carry-on as usual. I even saw 2 different Bald Eagles fly low over the museum on Sunday, 10/30, while I was shoveling snow off the deck. So, while this unprecedented snowstorm completely disrupted the lives of us humans and did quite a bit of damage to vegetation, it probably didn't do much harm to our wildlife.

No comments: