Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sandy/Frankenstorm aftermath #1 - Brown Pelican at Stratford Point

Frankenstorm turned out to be exactly what we thought it would be in nearly every way possible, from storm track to wind intensity to rainfall (or lack of) and, most notably and unfortunately, storm surge. I am now "back", having power restored at home and all networks up at the office. Suffice it to say there is an enormous amount of everything for me to catch up with, so I will keep the heavier posts for later in the coming week. I discussed the storm in this post a week ago, and in the coming days I will analyze it further in terms of impact, actualized weather, changes in our state, and what we need to learn from this system. I will also share some of the incredible bird sightings as Frankenstorm littered Connecticut and neighboring states and waters with a bounty of wondrous species. I am still calling the system "Frankenstorm" because it was truly an unprecedented hybrid that crushed our area, one that we will never forget - more on that in an upcoming post.

On Friday afternoon, I had a Brown Pelican fly over me at Stratford Point so close that my fully zoomed-in camera could not focus on it. I eventually snapped off some shots as it spiraled in the sky over the lighthouse before heading west.

I have now enjoyed the rarer pelican at Stratford Point in each of the last three years! One flew by randomly while a group of us awaited the White-tailed Kite's nightly feeding session in August 2010, and Irene put one in the mouth of the Housatonic in 2011. This is the fourth year in a row I have had a pelican species at Stratford Point as in December 2009 several observers got fast but distant views of a group eight American White Pelicans we tracked down the Connecticut coast as they headed west.

The fact these rarities are showing up with regularity portrays our very turbulent start to the century. While you absolutely cannot pin down one event and blame it all on climate change - it is weather and nothing more - it is almost like we have a sizable trend of volatile, unpredictable, and record-setting weather in Connecticut, isn't it? There is no doubt the world is changing far too rapidly, with warmer temperatures and sea-level rise exacerbating our problems. While history has shown the Earth has had its ups and downs, the key is that they were not caused by human pollution, and as such they did not happen at this frenetic pace. Unimaginable consequences like this storm will keep happening more frequently. I will be posting something on the storm and its birds every day for the next week.

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation Technician
Photos © Scott Kruitbosch and not to be reproduced without explicit permission

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