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#ABArare – Hurricane Sandy report 1 – Northern Lapwing, Ross’s Gull, and more

Now that Hurricane Sandy has made landfall and moved inland, birders are heading out today to see what the storm brought. Interestingly, the best birds (so far) are arguably only indirectly related to the hurricane.

Hurricane Sandy

Three (or possibly two) Northern Lapwings (Code 4) have been found in Massachusetts. The first two were found by Vern Laux at Barlett’s Farm on Nantucket. After 20 minutes, the birds flew off to the east. The other was found at First Encounter Beach at Eastham by Mark Faherty. These locations are relatively close, raising the possibility that one bird was seen at both locations, but given the timing of the reports, this seems unlikely. There was a report of a Northern Lapwing at Mundy Pond in St. John’s, NL on Oct 27 before the hurricane, and Jared Clarke of St. John’s mentioned that conditions over the Atlantic were perfect for bringing in European vagrants. Given that lapwings would be coming from areas unaffected by Hurricane Sandy, their occurrence may be completely unrelated to the storm.

Chris Wood, while searching Cayuga Lake in New York for hurricane birds, found a Ross’s Gull (Code 3). Like the lapwings, Ross’s Gulls are normally from areas completely unaffected by Hurricane Sandy, so how this one ended up in NY is open to discussion.

After what seemed to be a slow start, reports are now starting to come in throughout PA, NY, and DE. New Jersey has been quiet, but I suspect that’s due to widespread power outages and unsafe conditions rather than a lack of birds. Reports of Pomarine Jaegers are widespread from coastal location all the way to western PA, though as you get closer to the Great Lakes, reports could involve birds that were not blown in from the Atlantic. Speaking of the Great Lakes, Ohio birders are reporting Sabine’s Gull, several Little Gulls (Code 3), a Black-headed Gull (Code 3), and Pomarine Jaeger from the Lake Erie shore over the past 24 hours.

Connecticut birders appear to be having a field day with reports of Great and Cory Shearwaters, Leach’s Storm-Petrel, Sooty/Bridled Terns, Red Phalaropes, and more, but only short messages (e.g., one line in the message body or subject line-only reports) are being submitted from the field, so it will take me awhile to make sense of it all.

Moving back to PA, a Black-legged Kittiwake was just reported from Kahle Lake in western PA, and the President (the ABA’s president Jeff Gordon, that is), after being stranded by the hurricane, has seen at least eight Leach’s Storm-Petrels, including two that have been caught by Peregrine Falcons, on the Delaware River at the Commodore Barry Bridge. He reports that many birds are still flying north up the river. Brad Walker spotted a Leach’s Storm-Petrel on Cayuga Lake in NY but not at the same location as the Ross’s Gull.

Interestingly, many reports from PA are showing up on the PA Birds Facebook group before the state listserv. Could this be a foreshadowing of a shift of how birders report sightings or is it due more to birders reporting from the field (with Facebook presenting a more convenient mobile interface?) or some other reason?

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John Puschock

John Puschock

John Puschock reports ABA rare bird alerts and manages #ABArare for the American Birding Association. John is a frequent participant in rare bird forums around the web and has knack for gathering details necessary to relocate birds. He has been a birder since 1984 and now leads tours for Bird Treks, as well as for his own company Zugunruhe Birding Tours. He has led tours to locations across North America, from Newfoundland to New Mexico and from Costa Rica to Alaska. He specializes in leading tours to Adak in the Aleutian Islands.
  • Steve Holzman

    Maybe FB is more ‘social’ than email? If photos are involved then yes, FB is MUCH easier than uploading to flickr or some such site and then grabbing the URL to include in an email address. But, overall posting to FB or sending an email to the listserv is the same amount of effort on a smartphone. I run the Georgia Ornithological Society FB page and co-own the Georgia Birders Online listserv. We have seen some FB posts before email posts, but they usually involve pictures. The listserv has guidelines that the FB group does not, but that doesn’t involve rare bird posts. I’d be interested to hear why some folks post to FB instead of the listservs. Perhaps OTHER state’s listserv admins are more crotchety than I. 😉

  • 20+ southbound Pomarine Jaegers reported this AM by Kyle Horton birding the Delaware River from Delaware City, DE., then 20+ Poms reported by Tom Reed Cook’s Beach (on the NJ side of the Delaware Bay, just north of Cape May, NJ) at 2:46pm ET. Also Cory’s Shearwaters from from the same location as well as Sunset Beach, Cape May, NJ. Thus far it sounds like Pomarine Jaegers and Leach’s Storm Petrels are the dominant pelagics being reported from the Mid-Atlantic region. Michael O’Brien did speculate that Cape May might take a few days to see birds make their way down, so the lack of reports may not be for lack of coverage (people have been birding there since first light) and may indeed reflect a lack of birds moving through as of yet. Whether they’ll trickle through over the next 24 hours or simply make their way to the ocean from farther north remains to be seen. Thanks for pulling this together John!

  • Shane Blodgett reported two Leach’s Storm-Petrels and a tropicbird sp. from Gravesend Bay in Brooklyn and there have been scattered other reports of Leach’s in Staten Island and Suffolk County, New York. Our barrier beaches got pounded in New York and so far as I know no birders have been able to get out there (and, considering the damage that is probably for the best).

  • Jeff Bouton

    Also from Cape May, multiple Kittiwakes, one Band-rumped Storm-petrel multiple times or numerous band rumpeds throughout the day, multiple Red Phalaropes… Frigatebirds in both RI & MA!!!

  • Jeff Bouton

    Jeff Gordon also reported (later) Sabine’s Gull and Sooty Tern from NE Philadelphia, PA!

  • Jeff Bouton

    Oh and how about a Red-billed Tropicbird carried into a rehab center near Cape May, NJ… more details coming soon on that one just read about it!

  • Jackstraw

    Email lists are extremely antiquated and have way too many restrictions to be the go to source for real time bird reporting. Also, most of the people who manage and frequently post are extremely pretentious which discourages people from posting. Guess what greyhairs, there’s much more to the internet than email. Most listserves are full off cardinal reports and obituaries nowadays, no thanks.

  • Geoff Malosh

    It’s always great to hear from people like “Jackstraw”, who under cover of anonymity snipe from the sidelines at people like birding listserv managers, who *volunteer* their personal time to provide a service to the thankless masses, free of charge.

    Anyway, the reason reports were not going to the PA List in a timely fashion yesterday was because the servers that host the PA List are located in New Jersey, and were experiencing an outage due to — you guessed it — Hurricane Sandy.

  • Jackstraw

    Most listserves are maintained by their respective state universities and are certainly not free, they are paid for by tax payers. Twitter Facebook and discussion boards are actually completely free to users. I’m not sniping, just speaking the truth about an antiquated system. After receiving a spam email every other day from the local listserves because someone got their email hacked I’m just over it. No offense to anyone

  • WAJim

    Don’t judge all listserves by your experience. My local ones (in WA and OR) are extremely timely, often updated by people watching the bird, welcoming, and remarkably spam free. Our only restrictions-personal attacks, the dreaded cat thread, and a few others. There are no restrictions on any bird reports. I’m on the computer a lot and I don’t use facebook- there is nothing there I can’t get faster from other sources.

    Here, of course, a cardinal would be a great find on a list serve.

  • Ted Floyd

    Thanks to “Jack Straw” for raising an interesting and worthwhile point. I sense that this “Jack Straw”‘s tone is off-putting to some of us, myself perhaps included, but I nevertheless feel that he or she brings out a worthwhile topic of discussion.

    I agree with “Jack Straw” that tone differs between listservs and, say, Facebook group pages. In fact, I agree, in a very loose way, that listservs are, for want of a better word, “pretentious,” whereas Facebook group pages, say, are more “friendly.” That’s a sweeping generalization, though, and I can think of countless exceptions. Still, the average difference in tone is there, I would agree.

    Now, as to those “cardinal reports and obituaries,” I honestly first read “cardinal” as an adjective, not, as I’m now certain “Jack Straw” intends it, as a noun in apposition. I think that’s funny. Maybe “Jack Straw” thinks I’m being pretentious… 🙂

    See? We can take our pretentiousness anywhere!

    Anyhow, back to cardinal reports and obituaries. I’m fine with both, but I’d say I see more of them on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc., than I do on the listservs. Cardinal reports and obituaries are more, hmm, “human,” and I associate such items more with new online media (e.g., Facebook) than I do old online media (e.g., listservs).

    Another aside. It’s a fine sign of how fast things are evolving that “old online media” just rolls right off the fingertips. There was a time, not all that long ago, when BirdChat and the state listservs seemed, why, new.

    Anyhow, it is, again, a valid and interesting point by our “Jack Straw.” And I’m sure the conversation will continue.

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