Fears for a huge flock of migrating birds which has been caught INSIDE the eye of Hurricane Matthew and can’t escape
- Hurricane Matthew is heading north across Florida with winds of 120mph
- Meteorologists believe a dot inside the eye of the storm is a flock of birds
Fears are growing for a huge flock of birds which are believed to be trapped inside the eye of Hurricane Matthew.
The birds have showed up on a number of satellite images of the storm as it heads north across Florida.
Pointing to a small green dot on a radar picture of the hurricane, Glenn Burns, a weather forecaster with Atlanta-based WSB-TV, said: 'We are actually seeing something very unusual.
'Here is the eye of the storm and inside the eye the air is calm and the sky is clear...those are seagulls and birds that are flying inside the eye of the storm trying to escape the strongest part of the storm which is in the north and north-eastern center of it.'
Glenn Burns, a weather forecaster with Atlanta-based WSB-TV, points to a small green dot on a radar picture of the hurricane
The flock of birds have showed up on a number of satellite images of the storm
Dr Martin Fowlie, a spokesman for the Royal Society for the Preservation of Birds in London, told Mail Online: 'We don't know what species of birds have been picked up on the satellite images, but they are probably a mixture of seabirds and migrating birds.'
He said this was a time of year when many warblers and other migratory birds flew south from Canada and the United States to winter in the warmer climes of the Bahamas, Mexico and even further south.
Lease terns, royal terns, sooty terns and frigatebirds were spotted over Florida last Friday as Hermine — currently a post-tropical cyclone — made landfall over the Sunshine State.
Dr Fowlie said: 'This sometimes happens and in the past birds have been carried miles away and could be dumped in the middle of the US, possibly ending up on a lake or other body of water.'
Some of the birds will be seabirds - gulls, frigates and shearwaters - which were probably minding their own business in the Bahamas or Haiti and were suddenly caught up in the hurricane.
The intense storm rolled into Coquina Beach in Florida on Thursday afternoon, as the beach was nearly empty of people
Seabirds like these gulls have very strong wing muscles as well as excellent navigation skills
Asked what the chances were of the birds surviving, he said: 'Seabirds can put up with very high winds but some of the smaller birds, the warblers and thrushes, may struggle and their energy reserves will drop away quicker as they try to keep up with the eye.'
Dr Fowlie said those which do survive will probably end up hundreds or thousands of miles from where they came from but all birds have excellent powers of navigation and he said that after a bit of a rest they would fly south again or back to where they came from in the Caribbean.
Bird expert Kenn Kaufman told the bird magazine Audubon: 'When the storm reaches land, some of them may start fighting the winds.
'Others may go with it and travel with the eye until the hurricane dissipates. The majority of seabirds, if they are not too weakened from having flown for so long without food, will probably find their way back to shore quickly.'
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