, Newburyport, MA

Local News

November 3, 2012

Hurricane Sandy blew many birds off course


This Storm Petrel was pushed all the way to downtown Newburyport, where David retrieved it from Interlocks Salon and Day Spa. When I posted its appearance on the Massbird list serve, a fellow birder commented that it must have stopped for a massage after fighting the winds of Sandy. Come to think of it, the bird did look well groomed.

That same evening, I received an email form Magill Weber, a visiting birder from Arizona, who had spent the afternoon sea watching from Salisbury Beach State Reservation. He reported, “There has been a huge movement of scoters out of the Merrimack River. Highlight was a puffin flying past about 20 yards off the seawall. Tons of Red-throated Loons coming up out of the river, tons of Northern Gannets.”

So, not only had “tons” of gannets, loons and scoters collected in Newburyport harbor during the storm, so did an Atlantic Puffin, the cousin of that dovekie. Sandy’s strong easterly winds drove these birds into Newburyport harbor where they were able to find less-trying conditions. The harbor afforded them the same protection of the breakwaters and the barrier beach that all Newburyport residents appreciate in a nor’easter. As the winds subsided on Tuesday, they were able to return to the open sea.

The local birds came back to the feeders on Tuesday and are feeding more ravenously that ever. The storm may have blown away much of the little natural food supply that they had before the storm. The feeders need to be refilled almost every day, and as the temperatures continue to drop over the next week, the birds will continue to seek the seed and suet that we provide in order to survive the season ahead and whatever storms it brings.


Steve Grinley is the owner of Bird Watcher’s Supply & Gift in Newburyport.

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