Thursday 28 August 2014

Cristobal Expectations

In short, I'm not expecting much tomorrow in CBS. The winds are too weak (<50km/h), have too much of an Easterly component for most of the night, and won't be strong until early morning to drive large numbers of seabirds into the bottom of CBS (Holyrood). We need stronger winds with a more Northerly component that last for longer throughout the night to push concentrations of seabirds into Holyrood for a bit of morning fun.

That being said, seabirds should be passing by Cape Spear & Cape St. Francis - but visibility will be hampered by the 30mm+ of rain that is expected over the next 24 hours!

Right now winds are peaking around 21 km/h from an ENE direction. By midnight it's expected to be around 44 km/h (NE) and around sunrise winds should have picked up to 50 km/h (NNE).

Generally, for a notable seabird event to occur in CBS we would need winds of at least 60km/h gusting to 80km/h for multiple hours. This storm will produce weaker winds, and for too short a time period. So I don't think there'll be many thousands of storm-petrels in Holyrood tomorrow morning, but there should be a few and hopefully some kittiwakes and phalaropes as well. I'm not expecting to see many or any jaegers at the bottom of the bay.

However, as the day progresses winds should increase and peak to about 60 km/h. This may force birds to fly by Cape Spear and Cape St. Francis - only problem is that there'll be a lot of rain, so visibility will be poor.

What's interesting about this storm is the time of year. I can't recall or find any late August Northeast storms in recent NL birding history - so this storm could result in a different mix of species than usual. The combination of a strong and far-reaching North wind along the labrador coast, and strong onshore winds along the northern Avalon Peninsula associated with Cristobal may produce an opportunity to see Sabine's Gull and Long-tailed Jaeger. Both of these species are quite hard to see in Newfoundland, rarely being seen from land and almost never hanging around in one area for long. However, the peak migration period of both species is between mid-August to mid-September meaning that this is around the most likely time of year to see them if they do get pushed close to shore.

My plan of action is to check out Holyrood at sunrise just in case there is a decent concentration of seabirds. I suspect there won't be and so I will make my way to Cape Spear or Cape St. Francis and hope that the driving rain will be manageable for a seawatch.

Should be some alcids around...