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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Winter weather update + flares!

Keep your eyes peeled for possible aurora borealis tonight!

A strong M-class flare a few days ago will be the source. It sounds like the big X-class flare that occurred a day or two later will largely miss our planet.

Check out solarham.net!


The weather forecast has been changing recently! I thought, by now, they would have had this big storm nailed down. But with each model run, the genesis of the system seemed to be more and more delayed, meaning we will see less and less of the storm-impacts... Boo!

Forecast maps... Storm system is really far north! Boo...

GFS - recent model runs

Bombing out well to our N/NE... Boo..

GFS- high res:

Bombing out over James Bay! Boo....


Bombing out near James Bay - boo!


Off the map in a freakin hurry...

With things changing steadily, there is still reason to watch this storm though. Indicates they don't really have a great handle on what will happen... If anything major shakes down, you'll hear about it here! 

If not, it may be time to just settle down and seat some turkey over the whole thing!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Botanists vs. Birders

The battle for the Natural History Championship!

Just kidding, birders would win...

Does anyone know of a skilled botanist in the province that may be looking for work (or currently employed but wanting a change of scenery?)... The old'e peregrineprints blog is NOT a place for advertising, but it seems like an interesting opportunity - so I thought i'd throw out the question here...

Email me if you know of someone!

Plants! Ugh! ;)

Friday, December 19, 2014

Natural History SPAM!

Some of you may know, I hate facebook.

I just wanted to throw that out there...


With that said, I just joined linkedin! Why? Because I apparently already had a profile... From Linkedin:

Brandon, it's been over a year since your last visit...

Oh drat!

But then I saw this:

3 great reasons to come back to LinkedIn
Graphic for background icon
Get your dream job
There are millions of jobs posted on LinkedIn
View jobs

My dream job!? - I'll take it! (to heck with reasons 2 and 3)

So out of innate boredom, I sat at my desk and filled out a profile. Having a mandatory policy at work of keeping our CV's up to date, it was pretty easy...

Then I apparently spammed everyone in my gmail contact list who is already on linkedin! (How much fun is that?) so now I am a fully fledged member...

If my understanding is correct, the goal is to make as many "connections" as possible? Regardless of how well you actually know someone? Amirite?!

If you want a new Linkedin friend, give me a shout: http://ca.linkedin.com/pub/brandon-holden/80/700/206

And if you've got that dream job sitting around and collecting dust - hire me! ;) 

(There's a theme here)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Various models - various runs - various data

Last winter, news outlets seemed to "discover" weather models when writing poorly educated articles for their various parent companies...

Since I'm getting excited about model runs, I thought I would do a dual post.

1.) - to show off some of the new runs

2.) - to talk about what "model runs" really tell us when talking about weather forecasting


Various countries around the world (or groups of countries) have weather systems (massive computers) in place that run programs daily, after we plug all of the real/live weather recordings into the blanks.

Through years and years of research and understanding, these computer programs have been coded to do the best we (or they) possibly can at forecasting what will happen in the future...

Based on the results that we see - it's REALLY freakin hard to know exactly what will happen... Two of the best are the GFS (Global Forecast System- american) and the European Model (ECMWF - European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts), although they have their good days and bad days. --- Canada actually has one to! The CMC-GDPS (Canadian Meteorological Centre)

People who are "into" this kind of thing then monitor the differences between the models, and take note when they actually agree...

A prime example of when they disagree would be hurricane Sandy... The Euro was saying (days in advance) that the hurricane was going to hit the USA, whereas the GFS (days in advance) was saying it was going out to sea... You can guess who won...

The best of the best weather forecasters use their own skill, as well as comparing the "model data" - to make forecasts. They can actually read/understand situations that confuse the models, and predict what will actually happen. It's darn cool!

An alternate example is what we have here, where the models actually AGREE (well in advance) that something interesting could happen... We still don't know for sure, but having both the GFS and the Euro hint at a major Christmas storm, several days in advance, greatly increases the chance of the storm actually occurring.

SO! Back to the main story -

Each individual model run (twice a day for the Euro, 4 per day for the GFS) is run to define exact numbers/weather events. The results are what I often post here... BUT - that is NOT A FORECAST

I repeat, it is NOT a forecast

It should be treated as a glimpse of a "probable event"... Each time the model is run, something different gets spit out... When news broadcasters focus on a single model run, it's totally inaccurate and poor journalism.

With our "potential storm" - we can get a rough idea of when (Dec 24/25) the thing may peak in intensity, and a decent idea that it will be somewhere near Ontario when it does fully "bomb out" - but the exact details are far from certain.

As things start to make more sense, I'll post some details on my thoughts (guesses) as to any potential rare birds.. For now, I present several NEW model runs (from the GFS and Euro), that have all been spit out since my post yesterday

You can see how much it changes each time. Forecasters have a good idea that something is going to happen near Christmas, but exact details of wind direction, snow, rain, total precip, etc are extremely difficult to know in advance... Should be fun though!

Now check these out:

Day 6 and 7 from NOAA's NWS (Weather Prediction Centre) - showing an official FORECASTS

In my experience, the formal forecast is often weaker than the model runs, likely due to the potential that the event may not happen at all. It's rare, but sometimes the models were just plain "wrong" - and storms suddenly disappear from their runs. Check back for more info in the coming days!

(Not only for the birds, but maybe a good heads up that the driving will be rough over the peak days of the holiday season)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Long-range weather alert - Dec 24th-26th (ish)

Presented below, a pile of various weather images from the GFS and the Euro, agreeing that there may be a major weather event around Christmas.

This is a long ways out, but the models are hinting at something BIG... Timing and exact locations/winds/days are totally unknown at this point - yet they are key to figuring out what birds may arrive (and where)...

Only time will tell!

Also - if this thing comes to pass, blizzard conditions will be likely throughout the province (strong winds with moderate to large amounts of snow) - meaning horrible conditions... May be good to know about this in advance!

I am not really sure WHERE the birds could come from right now, but my hope is the Atlantic... Things will change... BUT - but... I have already done some looking at the nearby coast to see what species we could potentially expect.

Mega, with a chance of possible:

Common Eider
Northern Gannet
Great Cormorant
Thick-billed Murre


Black-legged Kittiwake
Harlequin Duck
Purple Sandpiper

Anything is possible:

Northern Fulmar
Black Skimmer
American Oystercatcher
Atlantic Puffin
Black Guillemot

Common Murre
Saltmarsh Sparrow
Boat-tailed Grackle

Indicator Species: if you see one of these, you deserved an alcid...(hypothetical storm if's)

Great Egret
Black-bellied Plover
Greater Yellowlegs
Ruddy Turnstone

Also - an increase in "good gulls" such as Glaucous, Iceland and Lesser Black-backed... Or just an increase in Herring/Great Black-backs - if this storm were to actually happen. Lots of gulls around could show that birds were actually moving...

This is all just crazy talk! But i'll post here as we learn more about a potential storm... 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Dec 16th - Recent Birdy News

A motley crew and I could find no Slaty-back on Saturday...

Adam Beck - http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S20912449

Whirlpool - http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S20912447

Corridor Drive - http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S20912448

Control Gates - http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S20912439

Upper Falls - http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S20912445

Gorge - http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S20912444

Control Gates 2 - http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S20912442


Condo birding continues to be pretty dull...

Dec 6th -  http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S20805715
Lesser Black-backed Gull

Dec 9th - http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S20840796

Dec 10th - http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S20853076
Possible Herring X Great Black-backed hybrid

Dec 11th - http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S20860601
Possible Herring X Glaucous hybrid

Dec 12th - http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S20868858
Visitors! Plus an odd Harrier and 2 DC Cormorants

Dec 13th - http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S20898802

Dec 14th - http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S20900613
2 Pintails (incomplete list)

Dec 16th - http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S20924370


The Euro weather model has been hinting at a major storm for Christmas...

(Model variation, worth watching though)


2242 growing and is beta-delta-gamma, but no major news. Check out solarham! There was a major farside flare/CME a few days ago... 


How have I never heard of this?! - A Golden-crowned Sparrow has returned for its SIXTH winter in Ohio?  -



The Eurasian Tree Sparrow "invasion" continues... Unless someone just released a bunch somewhere and now they're wandering aimlessly..


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Who says I should get out more!?

The extent of my recent birding activities... Hopefully by the time this auto-posts, I'll be looking at a Slaty-backed Gull...