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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Birds in Superstorm Sandy, what happened to them?

Magnificent Frigatebird

First of all, our hearts go out to the many who suffered losses and are without power due to Hurricane Sandy, renamed Superstorm Sandy. We here in NH were mostly spared some of the most severe effects felt elsewhere, although many tens of thousands are still without power (luckily, we are OK).
For birders, the first rule is to stay safe during a storm. Many birders did venture out at the end of the storm to see what happened to birds. Such a large storm can effect birds by pushing them into coasts, or some actually get caught up in, or entrained, in the storm itself and carried far away from their usual areas. Monster storm Sandy deposited many, many birds in unusual places, including Magnificent Frigatebirds reported from Little Compton, RI and South Dartmouth, MA (possibly the same bird). 

Phil and Don scan the gray sky for unusual birds

Here in inland southwest NH we ventured out yesterday with some other birders and found 2 Laughing Gulls, usually a coastal species, on our lake.

Laughing Gull, winter adult

Henry helps scan also

We joined with Henry and went to a big lake in our town and found 10 Black Scoters  far out on the lake. These sea ducks are usually off the coast of NH.

White-winged Scoters are another type of sea duck that could be effected by a storm.

This is a Wilson's Storm-Petrel, the more commonly seen one from the NH coast. The more rare and similar looking Leach's Storm-Petrel, still in migration, was more a victim of this storm and many were found displaced throughout the storm area. In our state of NH a Leach's Storm-Petrel was seen at big Lake Massabesic, only to be eaten by a Herring Gull!! 
For photos of this amazing event go here.
Many other storm blown birds are being found. Large numbers of Pomarine Jaegers have been reported from NJ, NY and PA. For excellent coverage of the storm displaced birds throughout the Mid-Atlantic and New England Area see John Pushcock's reports on the American Birding Association blog go here
and here.
Also see the live blog updates of storm birds at Nemesis Bird website here.
If you find any unusual storm blown birds in your area, try and document them and report them to your local birding listserve, birding organization and also ebird

1 comment:

Backyard Bird Paradise said...

Great post! My thoughts are that hopefully most birds cleared out of the area were the storm went through. And hopefully any birds that stayed would have seeked out better cover until the storm leaves.