Friday, February 5, 2010

Storm Thoughts

[This Boat-tailed Grackle sang merrily along Pierce's Point Road this morning, probably not oblivous to the approaching storm but certainly acting that way. Click to enlarge photos.]

Weather and radar guru David LaPuma (now a colleague here at CMBO-CRE working in the research department) and I were talking about the approaching weather and its potential effect on seawatching. David noted the strong southerly flow up the Atlantic coast as the low approaches, and then a strong easterly and finally northeasterly flow right into our region through Sunday AM. He theorized this could/should push whatever is offshore closer to shore over the next few days, and could bring more southerly pelagics into the region and close to the coast. We're thinking about alcids primarily here. Predicting seabird movements is confounded by a huge array of variables, including especially food availability and tides, and as David noted this is all a gigantic "maybe."

Birders, including me, have a tendency to think that seawatching from shore might be most interesting with east winds, hoping birds will be pushed close to shore. My experience is frankly that that seldom happens, or if it does the viewing conditions are so difficult we don't see them! The best seawatching seems to happen when the conditions are good for viewing, especially when those conditions coincide with some unique food availability like baitfish concentrated in the rips off Cape May, or migrating menhaden or mullet. Hurricane birds, of course, are a whole 'nother subject.

This might all be moot, since we might not be able to get to the shore to look for the next day or two!

[I worry about Carolina Wrens with the weather of late and to come. Their numbers decline after severe winters. This one was along Pierce's Point Road this morning.]

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