Remember when all those birdwatchers were psyched about that grey-hooded seagull that was hanging out at Coney Island a few weeks back? Turns out that was just the prelude to the big show, as a whole slew of rare birds have been pushed into the city thanks to Tropical Storm Irene.
“This is the biggest influx of storm-driven birds we’ve ever experienced in New York,” said Paul Sweet, who works in Department of Ornithology at the American Museum of Natural History. “Usually, a storm produces two sooty terns and a jaeger, but we’re getting multiple sooty terns, bridled terns, Caspian terns, royal terns and Leach’s storm-petrels,” chimed in an UES bird photographer. “It’s just a whole potpourri.”
What the hell is a sooty tern? Why, a pelagic bird, of course! Basically, a bunch of pelagic (aka oceanic) birds got blown off course by Irene's strong winds and are now near New York beaches and rivers, for a limited time only. Local birders have been rushing to catch glimpses of the feathered beauties before they get back on course and fly away forever. As blogger 10,000 Birds puts it after his trip to Jones Beach post-Irene: "We headed back to Queens soaked, happy, and hoping for another hurricane!"