Avoiding The Storm

Red-breasted mergansers (photo by Shawn Collins)
Red-breasted mergansers in flight (photo by Shawn Collins)

24 November 2014

While seven feet of snow fell on parts Buffalo, New York last week, the birds on Lake Erie did their best to avoid the storm.  Thousands of them flew away.

On 18 November 2014 the lake effect snow storm was so localized that it hammered communities south of Buffalo but barely snowed Downtown.  Alfonzo Cutaia recorded this amazing wall of white picking up moisture from the lake and carrying it away from Downtown Buffalo.

That night it snowed three inches at Presque Isle State Park in Erie, PA but conditions improved next morning.  Jerry McWilliams described the scene at Sunset Point on 19 Nov 2014:

The severe winter storm that was hitting the Buffalo area continued out over the lake until at least 0800 hours [with] heavy storm clouds and whiteout conditions about a mile out on the lake. This may have been the reason for a massive movement of waterfowl this morning, especially Red-breasted Mergansers.  Except for Redheads which were mainly moving east, most ducks were moving west.

He counted 11,400 red-breasted mergansers flying toward Cleveland, away from the storm.

The ducks escaped but I can only wonder what happened to the songbirds.  I hope they left on Tuesday during the first break in the three-day storm.

And now, as if the snow wasn’t enough, Buffalo has rain, snowmelt, floods and high winds today.

Fly away!

(photo of red-breasted mergansers by Shawn Collins)

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