Sandy Jarred Something Loose

As I mentioned in my blog post from 31 October big storms like Sandy are usually followed by a short period of extreme birding excitement. In fact, many unusual and out of place birds showed up all cross the northeast part of North America in the week following the storm. Perhaps the most unusual of these was a Pterodroma petrel found under a mailbox in the middle of Pennsylvania. It was taken to a animal rehab center but died shortly there after. Pterodroma petrels are notoriously difficult to identify in the field and apparently they are difficult to identify in the hand as there is still some question as to which species of petrel this is.

Unfortunately I was unable to get out and see any of the storm related rarities. Instead, I lived vicariously through the email posting of others. One strange thing that I noticed after Sandy was concerning, not a seabird, but Golden Eagles. Most of the hawk migration monitoring sites post their daily totals to the local list servers. After the storm most all of them experienced daily and seasonal all time record high numbers of Golden Eagles.

Below are the numbers from the monitoring sites in the mountains. The coastal and piedmont sites didn’t see an unusual change in Golden Eagle numbers. I have often wondered about the winter distribution of Golden Eagles on the east coast. We have a fair number of them pass through in migration, as shown below. However south of here, observations are few and far between. My guess is that they stay in the mountains spread out over a large geographic area where there are fewer birders in winter. Whatever they do in winter the numbers below are exciting to see!


Post Sandy, Doing Dandy

This is just a quick update to let everyone know that everyone at 302 N Franklin St in West Chester PA is doing just fine. We were very lucky in that it seems that we missed the worst parts of Sandy. The places here that took the brunt of the strom were low lying  and coastal areas. We hardly had a flicker with our electricity nor did we get any basement leaks. 

This was a good test for the basement. When I arrived here last summer the basment walls only seemed to slow down the water. I spent the first couple of months here doing a lot of work trying to find the leaks an dry out the area. I am happy to say that I could not find a single drop of water down there at all. 

Now, don't get me wrong, Sandy was not a good thing for many reasons which I need not go into now. But I can tell you that as a birder and ornithologist, events like this are very exciting. Why? Well, birds have wings and storms like Sandy will send animals with wings to far off places that you would never see them otherwise. 

Over the last two days ther has been an absolutely unprecedented number of oceanic and coastal bird throughout Pennsylvania. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Pennsylvania's geography, we have neither coast nor ocean here. Large numbers of Leach's Storm-Petrels, Jeagers, Terns, Oyster-catchers and other such birds have been seen throughout the state. Unfortunately for me, I have not been able to get out and see anything myself, but it has been terribly exciting to see the reports of others. The best report that I have seen so far is of a Red-billed Tropicbird (photo above salvaged from the web) which found alive in southern New Jersey. It is only the second record for the state ever! 

Stay dry!


Aquatic Vegetation


Yesterday Mary, who was at the Jersey shore, called and said that our neighbor Miranda texted her and said that a wind storm blew a tree over in their back yard. I told Mary that I was not at home but on my bike. She asked if it was storm where I was but to be honest I couldn't hear her very well over the wind. Then I noticed that I was doing well over 20 mph going up a slight incline. If there was a storm, then the tailwind was doing me right! I was a bit worried over the darkening skies but there was nothing I could do but to keep pedaling. It began to rain quite heavily right as I got into West Chester. So my last 10 minutes on the bike were wet minutes.  

This morning we saw that it was a fairly large tree and it had fallen along side their pool! I told Damian that I thought reflecting ponds looked better if the vegetation were water lilies. See more photos here