Here's what I saw today!
When I woke up yesterday morning, I had no thoughts of seeing an Ivory Gull for many years. When's the next time I can get to Newfoundland and hope and pray to see this bird? Well, luck would have it that one turned up in Piermont, NY yesterday just over the NJ border. Yowzers. A snowstorm last night made diminished the chances of this bird staying around, but the luck is still flowing. It was there this morning. I woke up at 9:00 after sleeping in for my "delayed opening" due to the snow. I checked my email and discovered that the bird was still there. There's not a whole lot of drama to this story. I sped up the NJ Turnpike, crossed the NY border and drove into the little town of Piermont. I got my directions messed up somewhere and couldn't find the exact spot for the bird. I managed to spot a car who seemed to be in a hurry. It was what I would define as a "lifer hurry". Naturally, I followed him right to the crowd of birders.
There it was... sitting on the ice in all its... whiteness. This visitor from the Arctic was a treat for the eyes. Devoid of any notable plumage characteristics aside from its red-tipped bill, beady black eye, and black legs, the adult bird was shining in all of its pure-white plumage.
After only a few minutes, it took off and headed to a different location further up the shore. All of the 50 or so birders there hopped in their cars and followed it. We re-found the bird as it flew past us and then banked over our heads. It put on quite a show. It perched on telephone poles, ate from a Ruddy Duck carcass, flew up and down the jetty, and generally didn't care that all of these birders and photographers were there.
The Ivory Gull is in some serious decline. High levels of mercury have been found in them in a recently published study. Also, global warming has had an effect on the sea ice that the gulls roost on in the Arctic.
Oh yeah, did I mention there was a Snowy Owl there too!?!?!
The Snowy Owl above had been there for over a month and this is where the Ivory Gull was originally found. I assume the person who found the gull was looking for the owl. This is a classic example of the Patagonia Picnic Table Effect.