Last Sunday (August 30) there was a fine display of three Category 4 hurricanes, slowly marching their way across the tropical Pacific. Jimena was averaging a stately 12 km per hour. Kilo has been slowly bumping along for three full weeks, a rarity. Hurricane Ignacio has taken a path north of Hawaii leaving extreme surf in its wake. This path is unusual. It is now north of 30 and is veering off into the northeast where it will become a post-tropical storm carried into the west coast with the next big loop of the jet stream, around the Aleutian Eye.
Whistler made the news yesterday with a rare summer snowfall. This coincided with the tremendous downpours and thunderstorm experienced here yesterday. It’s a wet initiation to this “super” El Nino autumn. The east is now basking in a heat wave. This is the type of stormy autumn that hard-core birders and migration phenologists relish.
I’m not a dedicated birder, but I can relate to the thrill of seeing a new species far from its usual haunts. I have the honour of being represented in the nearly-completed ‘Birds of Saskatchewan’ for having observed and photographed the first Ross’s Gull, a handsome small gull, typically found in Siberia, and more recently found breeding sparsely in the Canadian arctic. I spotted it by chance on October 26th, 2002, directly under the apex of Palliser’s Triangle, as a major weather system passed through, at the height of a major prairie drought, associated with the last big El Nino. The Ross’s Gull is rare and threatened, listed under Canada’s Species at Risk.
Today also marks an apparent wave of California Gulls from Palliser’s Triangle, passing through the sanctuary. At noon there were 82 gathered on Mermaid Delta, along with 34 Mew Gulls.
As the barometer begins its rise toward a peak on Monday, I expect Pintails and Grebes to appear.