Sunday, January 11, 2009

Watch out for Ivory Gulls

A bit of wishful thinking here, but I am getting downright desperate for an Ivory Gull. A few birding friends and I had plans to drive to Prince Edward Island for this stunning ADULT Ivory Gull that was coming within 5 feet of people! Everything was in place for a successful trip, but the bird disappeared mid-week.

Danny Williams, a great young birder from East Lyme, was one of the people set to come on the trip. We had previously dipped on two nearby Ivory Gulls, an adult on the Hudson River two years ago and an immature in Rhode Island last winter. This essentially makes us 0-for-3 on chasable Ivory Gulls. Needless to say we were both crushed when the latest bird took off.

But there is hope for an Ivory Gull yet...maybe even sooner than later. Over the past two days, an incursion of the species has taken place in Labrador and Newfoundland. At least some of the birds were observed to be flying south.

There is much worldwide concern for this species because their habitat, arctic sea ice, is quickly retreating. However from what I have been able to glean from the internet reports, about 2/3 of the current incursion in comprised of first-winter birds. So Ivory Gulls are still successfully breeding somewhere despite the Canadian breeding population reportedly plummeting.

Newfoundland and Labrador are both quite far from the US border, so who knows if another Ivory Gull will appear within driving distance. But if it does, I expect to chase it......and miss.

- NB

4 comments:

  1. Wow Ben....wow. Amazing. Not sure I really thought I would see one anytime soon! We missed you by 5 minutes, glad you got it too. Just a stunning bird. Still can't get over it.

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  2. Congrats! You seem to have a way with gulls... any chance you could convince some of those IVGU down a few states?

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  3. Brendan, Ben and I were both lucky enough to be in the Boston area when word spread on the Ivory Gull. Right place right time. Going back tomorrow. I would be glad if it stopped in CT for a few days on it's way down to Long Island...

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