Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Speculations About Maria

Well it looks as though we are going to get hit by Tropical Storm/ Tropical Depression Maria. To be quite honest I'm not sure what to expect from this storm. The storm has never been that strong, with winds maxing out at Tropical Storm strength. It has lost many of its tropical characteristics, it does not have much in the way of surface rotation or spiral bands and it's not expected to intensify much, if at all, before it reaches us.

The storm has been out at sea the entire time only coming close to land near the Northern Antilles islands. Due to its pelagic nature its very unlikely that Maria will bring any land birds with it.However, it still might have the potential to carry a rare tern or two our way. It isn't the type of storm that will entraiin birds and drag them long distances, but it's moderately strong winds could certainly persuade some birds in our direction.

I'm still trying to develop a game plan for birding this storm. Right now it's expected that the storm will pass through eastern Newfoundland, somewhere near the Avalon Peninsula and the winds are forecast to be from the south. This isn't exactly the most productive direction to produce a movement of sea birds but southern facing points on the Avalon could be good, that is if it's not too foggy to see!

I'll probably try my luck at Cape Spear. This location is generally better in a N or NW wind, but I've seen some good sea bird movements on southerly winds here as well. If the winds get up to 60+km/hr sustained you can expect to see Storm Petrels and some other tubenoses going by.

If the storm tracks futher to the east and generates N or NE wrap around winds after it passes, then there could be a nice movement and birds like Leach's Storm Petrels and Jaegers will be pushed into Conception Bay. If this happens places like Kelligrews, Seal Cove and Holyrood will be worth checking.

The day after the storm passes it will be well worth checking all coves and beaches on the Avalon Peninsula for any tired storm birds. Possible species (no matter how unlikely) are Black Tern, Least Tern, Sooty Tern, Bridled Tern and Magnificent Frigatebird. Just look everywhere and at every tern. Photograph anything unfamiliar and get the word out if you think you have something unusual.

Good luck!!

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