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Binoculars

Rare Arctic gyrfalcon found in Wells Harbor, Maine

© Bob Duchesne
Gyrfalcon (dark morph)
We interrupt this column for a special announcement: "A gyrfalcon has appeared in Wells Harbor!"

The gyrfalcon is the largest falcon in the world, capable of taking down a Canada goose. It preys principally on ptarmigan, a chicken-like bird of the tundra, but it is so powerful that it is known to dine on other formidable raptors of the north, such as short-eared owls and rough-legged hawks. It breeds in barren arctic regions around the world, but occasionally wanders southward in winter. It seldom stays long in one place.

My small group was on the prowl for snowy owls when we visited southern Maine last weekend. Several unusual birds also were known to be in the area, including a king eider in Ogunquit. The forecast was ideal, so down Interstate 95 we went. As we pulled into the public parking lot next to the harbor in Wells, a large hawk rested on the nearest tree - in fact, the only tree on the lot.

Comment: See also: Rare Arctic gyrfalcon seen in Madbury, New Hampshire

Attention

Hundreds of dead seabirds found in north Iceland

© Wikipedia.
Hundreds of dead guillemots were recently found by farmer Gunnar Óli Hákonarsson at Sandur in Aðaldalur, North Iceland. The birds, which were found on a beach east of the mouth of Skjálfandafljót river, are believed to have died from starvation due to bad weather in December. Foxes and ravens have been scavenging on the bird carcasses.

Böðvar Þórisson at the Natural Institute of the West Fjords told mbl.is this week that a large number of seabirds were found dead in Ísafjörður earlier this month. An increase in seagulls, which are more aggressive in their feeding habits, may be to blame, he said.

According to Róbert Á. Stefánsson at the Natural Institute of West Iceland, even seagulls have been hungry this winter.

Comment: See also: "Massive chick deaths" in Iceland's seabird colonies

Unexplainable seabird deaths puzzle scientists in Iceland

Family

Hitting the nail on the head: Global warming believers are like a hysterical 'cult': MIT scientist compares 'climate alarmists' to religious fanatics


Dr Richard Lindzen
Climate change alarmists have been likened to a fanatical 'cult' by an MIT professor of meteorology.

Dr Richard Lindzen told a Massachusetts-based radio station that people who believe in global warming are becoming more hysterical in their arguments.

'As with any cult, once the mythology of the cult begins falling apart, instead of saying, oh, we were wrong, they get more and more fanatical,' he said. 'You've led an unpleasant life, you haven't led a very virtuous life, but now you're told, you get absolution if you watch your carbon footprint. It's salvation.'
Snowflake Cold

U.S. East Coast threatened by 'historic' snowstorm with possible significant snow accumulations

New England is braced for "paralyzing, crippling blizzard-like conditions" as the second East Coast winter storm in as many days threatens to dump up to two feet of snow in some areas, forecasters said.

Boston and New York City will see high winds and possibly "significant" snow accumulations as an Alberta clipper moves through the Ohio Valley Sunday and off the Mid-Atlantic coast Monday before intensifying over Long Island and New England through Wednesday.

"This is going to be a big one, historic," Weather Channel coordinating meteorologist Tom Moore said. "There could be paralyzing, crippling blizzard conditions. They're going to be talking about this one for a while."

Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington D.C. were already set for a messy Monday morning commute with up to three inches of snow expected overnight Sunday.

Wolf

Coyote attacks mother and baby before killing 2 dogs in Ladera Ranch, California

A mother, with her baby, had to fend off an aggressive coyote in attack mode on Monday, in the Southern California community of Ladera Ranch. The coyote finally moved on when it apparently realized it wasn't going to get the baby, but continued on in a bold rampage through the suburban neighborhood to kill two dogs.

The woman and her adorable little 10-month-old daughter were enjoying some outside playtime on the grass late Monday morning, just a short distance from their home, when the threatening coyote decided to join them.

"I was playing with (my daughter) out on the grass, and out of the bushes came a coyote," the mother explained to KTLA 5 News, from the safe confines of her home.
Arrow Down

Six skiers killed after massive slide of snow and ice on mountain in French Alps

© Getty
Tragic: Six skiers have been killed following a huge avalanche in the French Alps
The bodies of four men and two women were found in the Queyras valley in the Haute-Alpes

Six experienced skiers have been killed in one of the deadliest avalanches ever in the French Alps.

The bodies of the four men and two women, aged between 50 and 70, were found in the Queyras valley, in the Haute-Alpes department, today.

The party had set off on Saturday the range straddling France and Italy, but triggered the massive slide of snow and ice within a few hours.

Pierre Besnard, the Haute-Alpes prefect, said 'the bodies of three of the skiers were found overnight Saturday to Sunday', while the rest were recovered this morning.
Attention

Dead pilot whale washed ashore at Fairy Meadow, Australia

© Colin Douch
A five metre long whale carcass has been found washed ashore between Fairy Meadow and Towradgi beaches this morning.

The female adult pilot whale died at sea from natural causes according to the Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia (ORRCA).

''The whale was showing clear signs of illness, it was underweight and excessive lice was found in its mouth,'' said ORRCA spokeswoman Shona Lorigan.
Ice Cube

Flooding from broken water main instantly glaciates apartment block in Siberia

You see this car? It's almost a meter deep frozen into the ice. Why is that? Yet another horrible accident midst winter cold when the pipes got ruptured and nobody seemed to care for time enough for tens of cars were flooded and frozen. The name of this location is Dudinka.

The locals of Dudinka say that the administration was asking them to constrain from publishing comments or photos on Internet. But you know, once posted cannot be unposted.

See more photos of this aftermath inside:
Binoculars

Rare tropical falcon turns up near Charleston, South Carolina

© Keith McCullough
This tropical falcon, a crested caracara, was spotted recently at the Center for Birds of Prey in Awendaw.
The bird in the pine tree just didn't look like a red-tailed hawk. It didn't look like any native raptor. But it sure made itself at home.

When the vultures swooped in for feeding recently at the Center for Birds of Prey, the crested caracara dropped down, too.

Staff and visitors were wowed. The once-a-week "vulture restaurant" feeding exhibit can draw any number of raptors - hawks, eagles and the like. But the crested caracara is normally found in places like Mexico. It isn't seen in the United States much north of the Everglades.

Comment: This winter has seen many migrating birds completely losing their way across the Northern Hemisphere, here's a run down of such reports:

Snowflake Cold

Snowstorm brings record snowfall to parts of Texas Panhandle

© Lindsey Tomaschik
Central park looked like a winter wonderland on Thursday morning.
Last week the National Weather Service in Amarillo had mentioned the possibility of a winter storm impacting our region on Wednesday and into Thursday of this week.

Many residents didn't buy into the potential snow storm. That might have been because of the 70 degree weather we had just this past weekend or the fact that so far all the snows have been "duds" this year.

As the storm system got closer and closer the forecast model projections went up and up in their total accumulation expected. It got the point that it was not a matter of if we would see snow, but how much. A lot of that depended on where the convective bands of snow set up. One was on top of Pampa early in the system and that is why we got a higher total than projected.

A co-op observer recorded 4.4 inches of snow one mile northwest of Pampa. Another co-op observer recorded eight inches four miles west southwest of Lake McClellan. A public report came into NWS of nine inches for Pampa city limits.

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