Monday, November 5, 2012

Between the last post and this one we've had an extreme weather event concurrent with an extremely focused work project, hence not a lot of good birding going on.  Hurricane Sandy closed Yale University for two days, with rain, high winds and the resultant power outages. Low-lying areas along the Connecticut shoreline were inundated with a salty and debris-strewn storm surge as the hurricane's effects lasted through two high tide cycles, and coincided with a nearly full moon.

Die-hard birders all staked out their favorite corner of shoreline, to watch for storm-tossed seabirds, and reported back to those of us who opted to hunker down indoors instead.  Yale graduate student Jake Musser (based at West Campus) shares his storm-birding experience here:

While hurricanes cause disruption in our lives, they also impact many animals.  In particular, pelagic birds – those that spend much of their lives on the open sea – can be displaced great distances and even entrained within the powerful cyclone.  On Tuesday, as the storm was calming down, I spent the day with a few birding friends on the coast observing thousands of storm-blown birds exiting the sound.  Our sightings included many shearwaters, jaegers, and storm-petrels, birds never typically seen in Long Island Sound.  Many of these species are currently migrating south along the open ocean and were displaced into the sound by the storm.  However, we also found a Sooty Tern.  The typical range of this tropical species extends only as close as the southern gulf stream (i.e. off the coast of the Carolinas).  The individual we observed likely got entrained within the cyclone for a very long distance.  Interestingly, this species is one classically known to get entrained within hurricanes as they seem unwilling to ever land, even when given the chance by a large piece of driftwood or the sight of land.
West Campus bird list for the two-week period between October 22nd and November 2nd.

Red-tailed Hawk and Red-shouldered Hawk
Osprey and Turkey Vulture
Coopers Hawk and American Kestrel

Common Raven and American Crow
Fish Crow and Blue Jay

Finchy things:
American Goldfinch and Pine Siskin
House Finch and Northern Cardinal

Sparrowy things:
Song Sparrow and White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned and Chipping Sparrows
Dark-eyed Junco and House Sparrow

More little birds:
Black-capped Chickadee and Eastern Phoebe
Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets
Brown Creeper and Winter Wren
Yellow-rumped Warbler and Northern Parula

Some non-passerines:
Mourning Dove and Rock Pigeon
Northern Flicker and Downy Woodpecker
Herring and Ring-billed Gulls
Killdeer and Canada Goose
Wild Turkey

And some more mid-sized birds:
American Robin and Hermit Thrush
Northern Mockingbird and Cedar Waxwing
European Starling and Red-winged Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird and Common Grackle
Scarlet Tanager

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