While Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc on Florida and the Caribbean, here in the Grand Strand we got very lucky. There was minimal damage, and we had the opportunity to see some very unusual wildlife. When a big hurricane comes up from the south, it quite often blows all sorts of birds along with it. Birdwatchers call this short term influx of unusual species ‘fallout’.
In this case, Paul and Amanda were lucky enough to see the first ever Brown Noddy to be recorded at Huntington Beach State Park. It only stuck around for a couple hours the morning after the storm, and hasn’t been seen since. The Brown Noddy nests in the Dry Tortugas at the end of the Florida Keys, and almost never come this far north. They are pelagic birds related to terns, and spend most of their life at sea, picking up small fish from the surface of the ocean.
With this sighting, the official Huntington Beach State Park bird count has gone up to 338 species. There is an additional fallout from this, because now Ranger Mike Walker has to find room to add another bird to the park checklist flyer (and it’s very full already – he could barely fit the Bridled Tern we spotted last summer).
While being caught up in a hurricane is certainly traumatic for humans and birds alike, we wish the best for the people impacted by the hurricane and we hope all the birds that were blown north are safely on their way back home.