Sandy's winds push coastal birds into skies over Western Pennsylvania
Hurricane Sandy brought to Western Pennsylvania some birds not normally seen here, delighting birdwatchers in the region.
“There are still some here,” said Brian Shema, operations director at the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania. “Some caught in the storm may have gone back. They move about much faster than we do.”
The Brant, a small, goose-like bird, was spotted in Fayette and Allegheny counties, he said. The birds breed in the Arctic and spend the winter on the coast.
“Any Brant inside Pennsylvania is here for some strange reason,” Shema said.
Two dozen were spotted flying southeast over Sewickley on Thursday. They may stick around a bit because the river habitat is capable of supporting them a little longer, Shema said.
“These birds get caught in the center of the storm and they're not powerful enough to fly out,” said Geoff Malosh, 37, of Moon, who has been birdwatching for 28 years. “They end up getting dumped.”
Malosh spotted a Pomarine Jaeger, a bird that normally lives on the ocean, flying over the Ohio River.
More birds not normally seen in Pennsylvania were reported on the eastern side of the state, where more of Sandy's wrath was felt.
Some birdwatchers, like Dave Wilton, 55, of Scott, left Pittsburgh as the storm approached to head east in search of sightings.
“The rule of thumb is the worse the weather, the better the birds,” said Wilton, who described himself as an “extreme birder.”
Wilton spent a day or two in Philadelphia overlooking the Delaware River and then headed to the Susquehanna River valley before moving off to some of the mountain lakes in the region.
Shema also spotted a Pomarine Jaeger in Allegheny County — in Fox Chapel.
“They are exceptionally rare,” he said. “They live their lives on the ocean.”
Storm–petrels were also spotted here, but nothing like in the east. A flock of 47 was reported in the Susquehanna River valley.
A Wilson's storm-petrel was reported on Somerset Lake in Fayette County.
There were several reports of Red Phalaropes in Allegheny County, Shema said. They nest on tundra pads and are rare in Pennsylvania.
A black-legged Kittiwake was seen on Khale Lake in Venango County. Similar to a gull, they also breed in the Arctic and spend the winter on the Atlantic coast.
Craig Smith is a reporter for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5646 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.