Sunday, September 15, 2019

Dorian!! Day 1 (of 3)

Back as Hurricane Dorian was wreaking havoc in the Bahamas and starting to make its way north towards the US, the track of Dorian started to come into focus a little better, revealing that it would potentially make landfall, somewhere in the Atlantic Maritimes.

On Wednesday (Sept. 4) and into Thursday, it looked increasingly like it would be eastern Nova Scotia that would see Dorian make landfall. On Thursday, I asked around and got bites from Barb Charlton and Ethan Gosnell to accompany me out east into the storm for a few days. We took the Friday evening flight from Hamilton to Halifax on WestJets discount airline - Swoop.

Friday evening saw us arrive in Halifax, where we picked up our rental car and get into our hotel in Dartmouth, while Dorian continued its determined track towards Atlantic Canada.

Saturday we were up dark and early, driving southwest of Halifax, where we checked out a number of interesting sites near Lunenburg. The weather became increasingly inhospitable to bird, with the wind and rain picking up throughout the day. We didn't see too much of interest, except for finding an imm. Yellow-crowned Night-Heron.

Around lunch-time we were back in Halifax trying to figure out where to go ahead of Dorian (as well as to get something to eat before the McDonald's and Tim Horton's closed!). At this point Dorian's landfall was becoming locked in, with a hit, just on the east side of Halifax/Dartmouth. We started birding and scouting to the east of the city for birding on Sunday and Monday.

With Dorian's arrival nearing we had to call it early (~3pm), as the wind and rain was just too much, not too mention for our own safety, with sustained winds hitting close to 100km/hr.  We managed to snag a room at the hotel we stayed at the night previous night (in Dartmouth) and luckily didn't lose any power!!

Around 7pm, as the eye was nearing land, I got a text that someone had seen several Bridled/Sooty Terns south of the city. With this in mind, I gathered Barb and Ethan up and quickly booked it to an area we had scouted earlier - Lawrencetown West beach. With sunset nearing, we got here at 19:25, with about 20 minutes of light.

Getting out of the car, we could see that there were hundreds (thousands?) of darners and other dragonflies around, as well as shorebirds flying by. Almost immediately we had Purple Martin (rare), Barn, Bank (rare), and Tree Swallows flying in off the ocean, with several hundred over our 30 minutes here. The real craziness started when I spotted an odd tern/gull-like bird land about 100m away on a rock almost immediately after getting out of the car. Thinking it was a Skimmer or something good, we quick ran over, watched a wave smash the bird and drag it into the surf. Ethan managed to get some pics, while we watched the bird drown! Looking at Ethan's pics on his camera revealed the bird to be a Sooty/Bridled Tern!!! [edit: after getting Ethan's pics on a computer, the bird was identifiable to Bridled Tern]

Photo by Ethan Gosnell.
After we lost the Bridled Tern, we watched as several gulls and terns flew in off the ocean, but we weren't able to ID them, as the lighting and light rain/mist was challenging for birding. After a few moments, more birds came into view, coming in from the ocean. Getting closer to us, we could see that all of the gulls were Laughing(!), as well as several Royal Terns(!), and a Black Skimmer!!! Shit was really hitting the fan!

Photo by Ethan Gosnell.

Photo by Ethan Gosnell.

 With sunset fast approaching, Ethan and I watched an interesting bird a few hundred metres away do a weird 'moth-like' flight, before landing on the ground. We both raced up the hill and encountered a wreaked Black Skimmer!!

Ethan Gosnell
With light totally failing we new the next day (Sunday) would be fantastic!!

Our interesting eBird checklists, here:

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron:
Lawrencetown West:

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