First off, if reading that subject line makes you think of this guy, you're not alone. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you're a better person than I...
For something like the fourth winter in a row, an Ivory Gull has appeared in the northeastern US. These recent records include Massachusetts (3), Rhode Island (2), New Hampshire (1), New York (1), and New Jersey (1). But there's one coastal state that has been skipped...Connecticut!
The recent discovery of yet another adult, this one in Georgia, combined with all the recent adult records makes one realize that things are not going well for the species in the high arctic. Not that we need circumstantial evidence to see this, because a decline has been well documented. But it starts to hit home when you see the effects first-hand. These birds are likely starving and roaming around in search of food. It's no surprise that they only settle into specific areas when food (fish/bird carcasses) is located.
This winter's local Ivory sightings may well involve the same bird. First an adult was sighted in New Hampshire, then on Cape Cod, then on the RI/MA line, and now (as of yesterday) along the eastern RI coast. For us Connecticut birders, this is about as promising a situation (sorry) as we've seen because it's getting closer and closer. But if this bird does continue along the coast to the west, there's no guarantee it will ever enter CT. If it were to reach extreme western RI at Watch Hill, the bird would have two choices. It could either hug the coastline and continue west into Connecticut, OR it could just hop right over to Fisher's Island (NY) and eventually continue to Long Island.
Time will tell. It will take diligent and repeated searching along the CT coast to turn up this bird. We have a really cold snap on its way which should re-freeze some coastal coves, which may help the gull feel a bit more at home.
As of this morning, the Ivory Gull has disappeared in Rhode Island again. I actually was on my way to see it this morning when the snow really picked up and I decided to turn around after seeing a few spinouts on the highway. Good decision. When last seen yesterday evening, it was still a good 35 miles from CT, so it has some flying to do.