Birding the storm

by John Briggs on October 30, 2006

in Blog

The storm that came through the area this past weekend was a doozy! Winds were reported gusting at 70 mph at Cape Elizabeth. Nearly 3″ of rain fell here at home and waves were on the order of 20 feet along the coast.

[tag]Birding[/tag] in this kind of [tag]weather[/tag] is difficult at best. Try opening your window when parked near the beach and a gale is blowing with horizontal rain. Add to that waves breaking over seawalls, hurling rocks and debris onto the road.

Although not many birds were seen Saturday, we did happen upon a huge flock of Cormorants, numbering approx. 150, trying to fly in the fierce winds and driving rains.

The Cormorants came across Eastern Point and tried to head toward Fortune Rocks Beach. These birds are not the most graceful fliers, and in a driving storm, they are worse yet. Tumbling in mid-air was common with this bunch, at times seemingly stalling during a particularly strong gust. Some landed in the rough surf, only to be buried time and again with huge waves.

During storms like this, few [tag]birds[/tag] are flying, save for a few seagulls who think they are hang gliders. Crows were being pummeled, and to me, what looked like Divine feather removal at work from the strong winds.

I witnessed today, for example, a dead seagull wedged into some rocks, either blown into the predicament, or washed there by heavy seas. I also saw a dead Cormorant driven into a foot hold on a telephone pole. This situation was too high off the ground for some prankster to have accomplished.

On Sunday, the sun made an appearance, but the winds and seas were still high. We [tag]birded[/tag] Granite Point early in the morning, thanks to the clocks being turned back and the sun rising once again before 6:15 a.m.

Birds we witnessed at Granite Point were:

  • Green Winged Teals
  • Red-Breasted Mergansers
  • Hooded Merganser
  • Lesser Yellow Legs
  • Canada Geese
  • Kingfisher
  • Merlin

We saw our first Common Goldeneye of the season near Eastern Point in Biddeford Pool on Sunday.

The following pictures were taken both during the storm and the day after. Not many [tag]bird[/tag] photo oppurtunities presented themselves while trying to shoot from the car on Saturday, and Sunday, the species listed were just too far away.

Simply click a thumbnail below for a larger image. Happy birding!

Part of the flock of 150 Cormorants during the storm. Waves pound the rocks at Eastern Point near Biddeford Pool Waves pound the rocks at Eastern Point near Biddeford Pool
Waves pound the rocks at Eastern Point near Biddeford Pool A flipped sailboat sits in Biddeford Pool The day after the storm, wind and waves are still high, but the sun is out!
Gulls fly over the waves at Eastern Point the day after the storm A look toward Fortune Rocks Beach near Biddeford Pool, Maine the day after the storm




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