Friday, October 2, 2015

Hurricane Joaquin headed out to sea but sustained period of northeast winds continue

Hurricane Joaquin projected path as of 2PM Oct 2, 2015 (courtesy NHC)
It now appear that Hurricane Joaquin will not hit anywhere on the east coast and instead will curve out to sea.  The storm continues to be intense, reaching Catagory 4 status yesterday.  The Bahamas continue to suffer the worst effects of the storm with severe damage there almost certain.  It has been interesting to watch the development and progress of the storm as well as the nearly hourly changes in the projected path.  The only forecast model that got the 'out to sea' path right days ago was the European model.  Most every other forecast model called for an impact somewhere on the east coast but once again the European model got it right.  Although we will have no direct impact from the storm the entire area will continue to be under the influence of sustained northeast winds that have already been in place for several days and will continue for a few more.  There are many potentially unusual birds that could show up inland from conditions like this (not as many as a tropical system would bring in but still some stuff).  One possibility would be Northern Wheatears being blown back to the east as they migrate from far northern Canada out over the Atlantic to Africa.  In fact one showed up just to our east in Worcester County at Wachusetts Reservoir yesterday and continued today.  Other possibilities would include a number of near shore pelagics such as Black legged Kittiwakes, unusual gulls, phalaropes and others (including storm petrels...which also have shown up in Worcester County with a Leach's Storm Petrel today).  Any additional rain we get could also ground other migrants including but not limited to waterfowl and shorebirds.
Green winged Teal, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Oct 2, 2015
Common Loon, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Oct 2, 2015
Bald Eagle, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Oct 2, 2015
Surf Scoter, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Oct 2, 2015
Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Oct 2, 2015
Pied billed Grebe, Beaver Lake, Ware, MA, Oct 2, 2015
With the possibility of something unusual being around due to the sustained northeast winds I headed over to the south Quabbin area where I spent a large part of the morning as well as a little time in the early afternoon.  The strong winds made viewing a bit difficult but I nonetheless managed to find some decent stuff including a Surf Scoter (species #229 for Hampshire County this year), half a dozen Green winged Teal flying around at Winsor Dam, a few other species of waterfowl (including a continued Pied billed Grebe at Beaver Lake), a few raptors migrating and a number of warblers and other unidentified passerines zipping by.  I was actually expecting more waterfowl and raptors to be moving but at least I had some.  I spent a good chunk of my time at Winsor Dam but also made stops within Qabbin Park as well as down to Beaver Lake.  I tried my best to find a Northern Wheatear along either Winsor Dam or Goodnough Dike but no luck today.  I was joined for a time at Winsor Dam and a nearby sheltered area (somewhat out of the wind) of Quabbin Park by Sam from New Jersey and Stijn from Belgium.  It was nice to be out with someone who gets lifers one after another as Stijn was making his first trip to the US.  We managed to find a number of his target species (including Bald Eagle, Gray Catbird and woodpeckers) as well as many other new ones for him despite the less than ideal conditions for finding landbirds. 
Ring necked Ducks, Barton's Cove, Gill, MA, Oct 1, 2015
I had to go up to Greenfield for a class yesterday and made a brief stop at Barton's Cove where I found some waterfowl including four Ring necked Ducks as well as a Gadwall among the more expected species.  It is so much easier to view the waterfowl there as they are not as far out as many are at Quabbin.

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