Weather at the Edges

I’ve spent the weekend in sunny Niwot, CO  enjoying the company of my family, but always close to the phone and with a watchful eye on the weather at the edges of North America.

The snowstorm in the Northeast has unfortunately moved both the Massachusetts Pink-footed Goose and the Maine Barnacle Goose. I was planning on heading east for them this week, now I’ll have to wait till somebody relocates them.  This same storm allowed Blair Nikula to find a Great Skua today from shore at First Encounter Beach on Cape Cod.  Carl Goodrich had suggested Cape Cod as my backup plan for Great Skua if there was a Northeaster.

There are two other weather systems developing with potentially a more favorable side effect.

  1. There is a huge storm moving through the Aleutians right now. Scattered rain and snow showers for Sunday and Monday with west winds at 30 to 45 mph.  This is the right time of the year for some Asian waterfowl to move in behind it. Both Whooper Swan and Smew are regular wintering waterfowl at Adak. A bonus might be Whiskered Auklet (a bird I’d written off from the beginning).The auklets are always at Adak but it’s very hit or miss if they are close enough to ID from shore. There is the possibility of taking a boat out depending on wind conditions.
  2. There are two lows over the North Atlantic that are forming a virtual TransAtlantic Super Hwy from Iceland to Newfoundland.  This was the picture as of Saturday night.

    Weather Map as of Oct 29, 2011 (From NOAA)

So I’m on standby for now.  Chris “The Hitman” Hitt warned me there would be periods like this. Let’s just hope it’s a short period. I’m clibing the walls!

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13 Responses to Weather at the Edges

  1. Drew Dickert says:

    Hi John,

    A very experienced local Houston birder named John O’brien just reported a Ruff/Reeve at El Franco Lee Park while looking for possible Garganey and Say’s Phoebe. This park is located off south Beltway 8 a few miles west of intersection with I45 in Pearland. Do you still need this bird?

    Drew Dickert
    Houston TX

  2. Steve Bobonick says:

    Did you hear any results from the “emergency pelagic”??

  3. David White says:

    Ah, a moments chance to breath deep and rest up-you’ve had a couple of periods like this before, stayed focused, and have come blasting out every time. You’ve been incredibly consistant and your numbers show it. 732 isn’t a question. Its how far beyond. May the weather be with you. Best of luck.

  4. Dave Brown says:

    Hey John,

    I’ve got a client arriving from Estonia tomorrow,so birding hard for the next week. Right now there are 4 chasable year bird for me in Nfld!! If I get those that would push me to a ridiculous 271 on the year. Doesn’t seem like much compared to 727 but not bad for a rock out in the Atlantic. I’ll be hitting key areas for finding hot Euro vagrants like Redwing, Fieldfare and Lapwing in the coming days. Then there is a 3 day trip to SW Nfld to look for exotic Geese on Nov 10th. Hope I can help your cause!!

    Dave Brown

  5. Re Adak birding, I’m presuming you know to contact Isaac Helmericks, who lives there year round and posts regularly to AK birding. Just in case you aren’t familiar already, he is Mr. Bird of Adak, and I’m sure can help you with anything re birds there. His email is:
    You can check out his photos at

  6. Andy Boyce says:


    I’m sure you’ve got your plan dialed already, but if you need some last minute spots for Gray Partridge, I can take you around or point you in the right direction here in Montana. Of course, if something big shows up here, I’d love to chase with you as well. Good luck.

    Andy Boyce

  7. Deanna Campbell says:

    Just back from Brazil and catching up with your adventures. So excited you’ve done so well!! Fantastic you got that White-chinned Petrel! Very impressed that you went back to Gambell in October!!! What a ride! Hope the storms go your way!
    Happy Rarities! Deanna

  8. matt Beatty says:

    looks like the pink-footed goose turned up again in Franklin, MA!

  9. LindaVanderpoel says:

    thanks to all for the supportive comments regarding John staying home with the family. . . . .as you can see from his blog though he is not really “here” at all. The way the entire year has been. . .I AM after all, a bird widow!! I can totally relate to the Steve Martin character’s wife in the movie. . .though I’m not exactly sitting in the mansion in “Vail”!! It was great to have Scott home and we even caught “The Big Year”!! Great movie. . .

  10. John Vanderpoel says:

    Hi Matt,

    This is VERY good news…thanks

  11. John Vanderpoel says:

    Thanks, Andy

  12. Dominic Cormier says:

    Hello John,

    Been following your blog since I got wind of your big year while I was down in Texas for the spring and summer. Anyway, I’m back home in Halifax Nova Scotia, and if the PFGO in MA is giving you trouble, ours is back at the same spot reported before. It was seen today fro long periods of time, and with no snowstorms!!!! predicted should stick around.


  13. John Vanderpoel says:

    Thanks, Dominic. I’ve made a decision to chase this bird on the front end of the Hyannis Pelagic trip next weekend.

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