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For Some, Post-Hurricane Irene Sightseeing Is For The Birds

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The view of the choppy waters of the Chesapeake Bay from Kent Island. A small group peered through binoculars here Sunday, looking for tropical birds displaced by the hurricane.
Matt Bush
The view of the choppy waters of the Chesapeake Bay from Kent Island. A small group peered through binoculars here Sunday, looking for tropical birds displaced by the hurricane.

Hurricane Irene provided plenty of sights to see in its aftermath for those who didn't have to worry about storm damage.

On Kent Island, at the eastern end of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, Irene's impact was still easy to see after the rain. Whitecaps nearly big enough to surf on viciously lashed the shoreline, and several people came to take pictures -- though most did so safely in their cars to escape the strong winds.

For a small group of others, the waves, while impressive, were secondary.

Hal Weirenga and his wife Lynn Davidson sat in their station wagon, peering through binoculars, looking for birds -- and not just any kind of birds.

"Every time a hurricane comes through the area, they have a wonderful history of picking up birds down in the Caribbean and dropping them out as they pass through a region ... like a vacuum cleaner," says Weirenga.

Weirenga said other bird watchers had spotted some tropical species further down the Bay in North Beach in Calvert County.

"One of them is a long-tailed jaeger that belongs out in the ocean. It's kind of a predatory sea bird," says Weirenga. "Several of them have been sooty terns, which nest down in the Caribbean and only occur this far north when they're storm driven."

But there were no such sightings on this side of the bridge, which the couple blamed on the stronger winds.

"We just came across from Anne Arundel County, I commented a quarter of the way across, 'Wow the Bay is really calm. This is incredible,'" she says. "And as soon as we started the down slope, all the whitecaps are on this side of the Bay."

They would have preferred to watch on the western side, Weirenga says, but Sandy Point State Park was closed because of the storm.

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