A gardener's surprise during 'snowmageddon'

A snowmageddon bird-watching surprise in a gardener's backyard,

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    A bald eagle spots her lunch on a snowy day.
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Wah, wah, wah. OK, I know all of you in areas that get lots of snow each winter think those of us in the mid-Atlantic are a bunch of crybabies. Two feet of snow, you say! That’s nothing! But when you live in an area that had a total of seven flakes in 2009, this wave of storms has been a nightmare.

For one thing, nobody knows how to drive in snow. People are going way too fast, or way too slow, or just not paying attention. Somebody had to do some fancy maneuvering to sideswipe me in a parking lot.

Secondly, the grocery stores are insane. I heard some places were picked so clean there was nothing but a single lettuce leaf left in the produce department. And there is anecdotal evidence of fights breaking out over a gallon of milk.

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Still, there are some nice things about being housebound during a snowstorm (besides much too much comfort food.) For me, it has been watching all the birds in my garden.

I’m more convinced than ever there is some sort of avian communication going on we don’t understand. They have their own version of Twitter, and tweet each other to announce which house has put out the bird smorgasbord.

When the snow first started on Friday, we had our usual collection of juncos, goldfinches, cardinals, and sparrows. By Saturday, red-winged blackbirds, grackles, and a mockingbird had joined the party. On Sunday, doves, chickadees, bluebirds, and rosy finches were also in attendance.

The get-together wasn’t limited to the yard. A number of sea ducks and Canada geese gathered under our dock to ride out the storm.

Suddenly they all took off and scattered in different directions. I looked across the creek and saw a huge eagle approaching.

This impressive bird was apparently attracted by a juicy morsel on the beach that had already been discovered by three crows and a buzzard. As you can see from the photo above, the eagle was not planning on sharing.

Another storm is heading our way. News reports tell us an additional nine inches of snow will make this the worst winter in history.

I’d rather remember it as the winter I was fortunate and captured one of my best photos ever.

PSSSST: Those of us in USDA Zone 7 or colder should protect the bud unions of tree roses by wrapping them with old stockings or pantyhose. We’ve had such mild winters recently, I decided not to bother this year. I hope I don’t pay for it come spring.

Lynn Hunt, the Rose Whisperer, is one of eight garden writers who blog regularly at Diggin' It. She's an accredited horticultural judge and a Consulting Rosarian Emeritus for the American Rose Society. She has won dozens of awards for her writing in newspapers, magazines, and television. She grows roses and other plants in her garden on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

Editor’s note: To read more posts by Lynn, click here. The Monitor’s main gardening page offers articles on many gardening topics. Access all our blog posts here. (These URLs have recently changed, so you may want to bookmark them so you can return easily.) See also our RSS feed. You may want to visit Gardening With the Monitor on Flickr. Take part in the discussions and get answers to your gardening questions. If you join the group (it’s free), you can upload your garden photos and enter our next contest.

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