Monday, August 29, 2011

Hurricane Irene strikes out at sweeping rare birds into Northeast Ohio

Hurricane Irene was something of a bust for Northeast Ohio birders.

It is not unusual for a tropical storm event to sweep in bird species not typically associated with this region. That condition often revs up the juices of birders who go out and look for a new species to add to their life lists.

However, Irene was something of a windbag, failing to let its heavy breezes to transport anything new to the shores of Lake Erie, says John Pogacnik,Lake Metroparks' biologist.

"I went to take a look yesterday at the lake and all I saw were eight rudy turnstones and six dowitchers," Pogacnik said. "I thought we might have seen some more shorebirds but that didn't happen."

Actually, Pogacnik has a good explanation for the lack of sightings.

Irene ran along the Atlantic coastline and although it was a large storm system it hardly came close to Ohio, Pogacnik said.

"Often when a hurricane comes up into Ohio that is when you see birds," he said.

Thus, it looks like Northeast Ohio birders will just have to wait for a Gulf of Mexico hurricane to hit the coast and charge up the Ohio Valley in order to catch a glimpse at an infrequent or rare avian visitor.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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