Thursday 1 April 2010

Blizzard Aftermath

After two days of heavy snow and high winds the blizzard finally faded away sometime during last night and today has been sunny with high clouds and a NW breeze. Venturing outside I ploughed a way through the waist deep drift outside the front door. The bird feeders were almost touching the snow, enabling pheasants and blackbirds to peck at the peanuts. With snowshoes on I was able to walk over the garden gate, though I was still sinking in knee-deep. In the woods many more branches and trees have come down – the damage this winter has been severe. In the sunshine rabbits and pheasants were lined up on a bank at the edge of the wood nibbling the grass revealed as the top of the bank thawed in the sun. Great dollops of snow crashed down from the trees as they warmed up. The snowpack is wet and heavy and starting to pack down but there is so much snow it could still take days to thaw, especially as a hard frost with temperatures down to -10ÂșC is forecast for tonight. There is likely to be an icy crust on the snow tomorrow.

Yesterday evening as the blizzard still raged there was a power cut that lasted for two hours. Camping gear comes in useful here and I soon had soup heating up on a little gas burner and a lantern lighting the kitchen. With plenty of logs and coal for the solid fuel stove the house was warm and a wind-up radio kept me informed of all the closed roads, trapped trains and power cuts. For me this snow has been a minor discomfort, for others it has been a real problem. And for wildlife the whole winter has been terrible.

Photo info: The same scene as in the previous post, April 1, 2010. Canon EOS 450D, Canon 18-55 IS@28mm, 1/1000@ f8, ISO 100, raw file converted to JPEG in Lightroom 2.6


  1. That's amazing after was nothing at all low down just a few days ago.... we're relocating to near Grantown this year, hope not to be snowed in too much next winter!

  2. Paul, I've lived here for twenty years and this the snowiest winter at this height (300 metres) by far. We're usually snowed in for a week or two most winters - this year it's been about three months1 But we are half a mile up an unsurfaced track from the nearest single track road.

  3. In six weeks time we are hoping to spend a week near to yourself. I think I'd better pack full winter gear!

  4. I do like your monochrome photos Chris, very evocative.

    Our experience these last few days mirrors yours to a large extent:

    Today (02/04) at 1300 hrs our power was restored after 48 hrs without electricity.Camping stoves do come in handy! Like you our solid fuel stove kept the home warm

    We lost many mature trees including an ancient gean and many old birches. Not a single mature tree was spared some damage: torn off branches, tops out. Many of the young trees that I planted 20 odd years ago have been damaged too - some of which I had grown from seed.

    From one of our windows we could see the track of a badger - something we often see in the snow. We have watched them too with my night vision binoculars from a stalkers high seat.

    This winter I have bought in total 75 kgs of peanuts for the birds which need the fat and protein. Whole peanuts are put in birds feeders and I also use an electric coffee grinder to make a “meal” to put out on our window sills. Robins are the first to come at dawn. Long tailed tits come three times a day during our breakfast, around noon and again about sunset. Sadly their numbers have diminished, we had thirteen come in a group at the start of winter, now it is just seven.

    Wrens I haven’t seen at all – the hard frosts early in the winter saw to them – just like the winter of ’63 that took a huge toll on the wren.

    We have had heavy snows in March before, the last really heavy March snowfall was in ’95. But this March was certainly the heaviest in the last 20 years. A trend perhaps ? February 09 we had much snow and again in December and then this February and March.

    I’m sure the Nordic ski tourer will have an exceptionally long season this year – not just April, perhaps into May, unless of course we get a long and continuous thaw. I know some whose fingers are crossed for skiing in June!

    Rob fae Craigellachie

  5. Robert, I did wonder about your electricity as Dufftown kept being mentioned as still without power. 48 hours is a long time.

    Sorry to hear about your trees. We've probably only lost one or two that we planted along with some shrubs. We'll know for certain in a month or so when spring really starts. In the back garden we have a small regenerating pine and birch wood, now 20 years old. Some branches are broken but otherwise these trees are okay.

    I've put out around 45kg of peanuts and 45kg of seed this winter. We've had no long-tailed tits at all this winter - we don't see them often anyway. The coal, blue and great tits are in their usual numbers as are chaffinches. Few greenfinches since the autumn though and siskins only occasionally. There are robins and blackbirds every day but never more than 3 or 4 of each. Great Spotted Woodpeckers are daily visitors too - I think there are at least four different ones.

    I was out locally on Nordic skis today. The snow is around two feet deep in most places - firm in the fields but soft in the woods. I certainly expect high level snow to last well into May unless it is exceptionally mild.