Monday, November 30, 2009

Beauty Deep - Ivory Gull et. al. in Cape May

[Birders, among them Liz Gordon, collected fish carcasses last evening for the Ivory Gull, or so I hear from Kevin Karlson. An acceptable replacement for Polar Bear leftovers. This great photo is by Michael O'Brien. Click to enlarge all photos. I'm thinking we'll post a daily photo of the Ivory Gull as long as it remains, so if you get any good ones, especially of the bird "doing stuff," please sent them along.]

The Ivory Gull continues. We've been texting, twittering, and blogging these words (thankfully) for four days now. Perhaps it will even linger for February's CMBO Gull Workshop?

[Dan Haas sent this beautiful photo of the Ivory Gull, thanking everybody for getting the word out on the bird.]

As long as the stripers keep running, and the fishermen at the Breezee Lee keep catching them and cleaning them at the dock, we can hope the Ivory Gull will continue.

The Hawk Watch ends today - can you believe it? I stopped by to see Melissa Roach, who went from interpretive naturalist last year and this to part-time counter for November. Only a few birds were flying, though I joked with Melissa that now she's jaded - yeah, yeah, a couple Red-shouldered's, a few sharpies, a few coops, some red-taileds - it's really slow. . . an unenlightened person could become jaded in Cape May. Happily, almost no one here is jaded.

Tom Parsons, a senior member of the Cape May birding community, was up on the platform and shared an amazing, 60 year old Ivory Gull story. We were talking about the gull, and Tom mentioned it was a state bird but not a life bird. I asked him where he had seen it before, and Tom told, in an understated way, an amazing tale.

In 1949, Tom, a freshman at Harvard, took the bus to Newburyport to look for Black-headed Gulls, which were regular at the famous sewer pipe there. He saw this very white gull with scattered black spots on it, didn't know what it was, and returned to tell his adviser at Harvard about it.

His adviser was Ludlow Griscom.

Ludlow, who was baffled or perhaps feigned being baffled, sent the Salem, Massachusetts Peabody Musem ornithologist to check on the bird. It was, indeed, an Ivory Gull, and if you look in the old, great book, Birds of Massachusetts you will find Tom's name as the discoverer!

[Hawk Counter Melissa Roach with Tom Parsons on the hawk watch platform today, the last day of Cape May Hawk Watch 2009.]

[The Selasphorus hummingbird, photographed here by Michael O'Brien, continues at the corner of Coral and Cambridge in Cape May Point. The house there is home to two of the birder-friendliest people in Cape May, so of course birders are welcome. Just please don't block the street with your car or yourself.]

[This American Bittern flew across Bunker Pond in front of the hawk watch while I talked with Melissa and Tom. Bunker Pond also hosted 2 Lesser Scaup, Hooded Mergansers, and the array of waterfowl that trades about between Cape May ponds.]

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