Living in our county can be a great experience with our geographic phenomena. We have a great lake to our north, a glacial ridge further inland, and a variety of habitats, varying from open fields and woodlands to rural and urban areas. Just think of all the types of living organisms to which we are exposed.
June has provided us with an unusual and phenomenal array of physical and biological activity. During the last few weeks, those of us who live in the northern part of the county were alerted to a meteorological phenomena known as a waterspout. This unusual event occurs when weather factors come together to produce a funnel-type cloud over a large body of water, such as Lake Erie. I happened to be watching the Weather Channel on television when a report came up to the fact that a waterspout was sighted in the western part of Lake Erie and moving east toward the Dunkirk shore. Demonstrating a speed I have not shown since I was younger, I grabbed my camera and was on my way toward Lake Erie.
It was apparent that others had also heard the news, as there were several folks gathered for a possible look at this event. I came upon a few folks who I knew and were on their break having lunch at the time. One of the individuals I saw was Steve Bixby, who did not see anything at the time, but had observed this weather event a few years ago and had photos in his home file, which he later e-mailed to me.
Photo by Steve Bixby
A water spout.
A Cackling Goose.
Photo by John Connelly
Five young bluebirds in a nest box.
The water spout photos demonstrate an unusual phenomenon that forms over water. They usually form as their parent cloud is developing, and are sometimes referred to as a tornado over water. They are not as serious as they seem, however, and there are times that a strong waterspout could produce some serious damage if it were to move over land. These stronger ones do pose a threat to ships, planes and swimmers.
The photo of juvenile Eastern Bluebirds in the nest box is being submitted by an old colleague of mine, John Connelly, who had been inspecting the box he put up on his property in Fredonia. He discovered a family of young birds and managed to photograph them in various stages of development.
There is probably no bird that has captured the heart of so many people as our state bird, the Eastern Bluebird. It was once reported as a declining species, but is no longer, thanks to the efforts of various organizations, such as the New York State Bluebird Society, of which our own John Ruska is president. This organization has studied habitat location, and included groups such as the scouts and garden clubs, as well as individuals (such as yours truly to make some of these houses to attract these birds) in its pursuit. The breeding season usually starts at the end of April and runs though about the second week of August. Bluebirds may migrate or, in some cases, stay near their breeding grounds.
The last interesting occurrence was the report of a Cackling Goose in the Dunkirk Harbor. I immediately checked my database of birds in Chautauqua County and did not find any records of this species ever being sighted in our area. This report came from Jim Pawlicki, a young member of the Rochester Ornithological Society who happened to be visiting the Dunkirk Harbor. I know Jim and find him an outstanding young birder. I am including a picture of a Cackling Goose from the photographic database in my files.
I would like to describe the technical description of a waterspout and some information about our state's bird, the Eastern Bluebird and the rare report of the Cackling Goose. With the report of the Cackling Goose, it now brings the total number of birds reported identified in our county to 342. This goose is similar in appearance to our common Canada Goose, but smaller in size, and it possesses a white collar ring around the base of its neck. There are five subspecies of this goose of varying size and phases. Chapman reported this goose as the "Hutchins's Goose" that bred in the Arctic Circle, migrated through Hudson Bay and wintered in the Gulf of Mexico.
In closing, I continue to remind you to send article ideas or photographs to me at 38 Elm St., Fredonia, NY 14063 or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.