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planning for TS Hilary

1:11 pm

With “Hilary” still a solid couple days out, here are some various thoughts to ponder and potentially use in planning one’s upcoming birding adventures:
–unless the timing changes, the best chances for finding storm-effected birds will be on Monday; birds being brought up by the storm proper may stay with the circulation while dark (Sunday night), so are more apt to drop out once it gets light, such as Monday morning;
–be aware that many storm-deposited rare waterbirds often depart very, very soon after the conditions start improving, so being at sites immediately after conditions become safe would give one probably the best chances; some birds will linger longer–maybe even for a full day or two (e.g., a coastal frigatebird at La Jolla, Point Loma, or just about anywhere)–but some of the rarest stuff departs quickly;
–between the potential for winds and a slug of rain, with falling tree limbs and flash flooding possible especially in the mountains and deserts, one needs to be very careful in deciding where and when to go out; driving around in the desert and under a bunch of trees on windy roads in the mountains, if even possible, wouldn’t be the smartest decision while it is still windy and rain is still coming down and flowing off in high volumes;
–the storm may track just far enough east that the ocean coast possibly may not be the best place to be; current forecast is for the strongest marine winds to be Sunday night and be coming mostly out of the north, before the storm passes by and they switch to a somewhat more advantageous, but slower, southerly direction on Monday; but in no case is there much onshore, westerly wind currently being forecast, so tubenoses may or may not be brought in close to shore;
–a wobble in the storm track to the east or west just 20-50 miles between now and Monday morning could well make a substantial difference in where the “best” places to check will be; typically the best areas for storm-carried waifs is right under the path of the storm and to the EAST of that, NOT so much to the west;
–still seems that frigatebird is the best possibility to be brought north, but if folks want to start dreaming about Wedge-rumped Storm-Petrels, then that’s OK; BUT another good possibility for interesting finds INLAND involves SOUTHBOUND overland migrants that get knocked down by the very bad weather, so perhaps there will be mini-fallouts of shorebirds, or perhaps some Black Terns, swallows, etc., and perhaps we are even late enough in August that there will be an inland Long-tailed Jaeger or Sabine’s Gull that was trying to cross high over land but got knocked down; last year’s September TS Kay “grounded” a small number of Black Swifts, but we likely are still a bit too early for those, but perhaps there will be some Bank Swallows and Purple Martins;
–it would be really good if people planning on being out, checking the coast or inland lakes, stay in close contact, because, as stated earlier, a goodly number of some of the rarities will start departing very soon after the weather starts improving even just a little bit; so please very promptly post any exciting news to the WhatsApp group and to the regular listserv, and posts to the listserv with negative news of places checked with no sign of interesting birds would also be of value to other observers so that they might try elsewhere;
–if it wasn’t for potential safety issues, some inland sites worth checking on Monday would be the various ponds in Borrego Springs; the larger mountain lakes such as Morena, Cuyamaca, and Henshaw; and interior lakes such as Hodges, Miramar, Sweetwater, Lower Otay, and Murray, and perhaps San Vicente and El Capitan; obviously there may well be closures for at least part of Monday, but once they open up and are safe to visit….;
–keep up to date on the forecasts and warnings, and on any adjustments made to the storm’s path and timing;
–most important, be SAFE!
–Paul Lehman, San San Diego