Western Brooklyn

Hurricane Sandy Was For The Birds

Great Blue Heron. Source: Mike Baird from Morro Bay, USA via Wikimedia Commons

As far as birders are concerned, Sandy brought several rare species to the area around Caesar’s Bay. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not making any kind of silver lining statement; I’m just glad to share a less tragic storm story.

Apparently, for birders, seeing storm birds is a coveted thing. Birder and blogger at Citybirder.blogspot.com wrote:

Like a lot of birders around the tri-state area, I’d been watching the progress of Hurricane Sandy closely, trying to figure out a safe strategy for getting out to look for storm birds as soon as the worst passed. Emails went back and forth between a few of us, remembering the incredible diversity of seabirds that appeared locally after Hurricane Irene last year.

City birder received a text from a fellow birder stating that a Leach’s Storm-Petrels was spotted near Gravesend Bay. This is a bird that is normally only seen far off-shore.

As Shore Parkway was closed due to flooding immediately after the storm, the birders met at Bensonhurst Park:

Car access to Caesar’s Bay shopping center, which is on Gravesend Bay, was blocked off. Driving behind the park onto Shore Road we found that a small section of the road was flooded so ended up parking right there. The wind didn’t seem too bad until we walked across the parkway towards the water. Huge waves were crashing against the seawall and the bubble over the tennis courts had collapsed. With the wind blowing out of the East I suggested that we use the Toys R Us building as a windbreak and scan the bay from that location.

We had to pick our way through concrete, large boulders, bricks and other debris, much of which had been the storm protection at the very end of Bay Parkway. A chain-link fence, which would have normally prevented us from using the building as a windbreak, had been torn away by the powerful storm driven waves. Even large sections of concrete sidewalk had been lifted up and moved towards the shopping center’s main parking lot. As we set up scopes and began scanning the water I noticed curious people slowly starting to make there way down to the water’s edge.

Occasional wind driven cold rain and high waves crashing against the seawall chased some folks away, but as the morning progressed, more and more people came down to survey the results of the storm. I was amazed by the daring (or stupidity) of some people who would walk right up to sections seawall where there were waves crashing up onto the promenade. Folks don’t realize the force behind a wave of this size. Unfortunately, some people have probably lost their lives during this storm underestimating the power of water.

The trip was worth it for the birding crew, as many varieties of birds were flying around the area. They spotted Northern Gannets, Laughing Gulls, a Black-legged Kittiwake, a Royal Tern, Red-throated Loons, a Great Blue Heron, a tropicbird, a Red Phalarope and more. In total, they counted about 25 species of birds in the area.

Check out the full report, including some more information about the rare species that were seen in the area here.

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  1. Thanks for this excellent, informative article. I didn’t know there were ‘storm birds’ in the first place. I hoped they enjoyed their visit to our lovely Sandy-injured borough.

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