Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Cape May is Like a Black Hole. . .and this Bird is Like a Drug

[Ivory Gull this morning, flying in like a dream. Click to enlarge all photos.]

"Is he sticking around?" The fishermen at the Breezee Lee are well aware of the Ivory Gull, and one guy I talked to about the bird was pretty excited. "He's a beautiful bird, flies fast, more like a hawk, you know? He flew within two feet of me yesterday."

I had time to chat, since I began this morning's gull vigil at 5:00 a.m., well over an hour before first light. Michael O'Brien was looking for the bird at 11:00 p.m. last night. Sounds crazy, but it stands to reason an Arctic bird adapted to almost 24 hours-a-day darkness at the edge of the pack ice might forage at night.

It didn't, apparently, at least not at the Breezee Lee, so the fisherman and I chatted and listened to the gently creaking docks, the wocks of night-herons, and finally the first squealing Herring Gulls and bellowing Great Black-backeds. The gull flew in from the east at 6:50 a.m.

[The fishermen at the Breezee Lee are well aware of the Ivory Gull. I watched a number of them point out the bird to their buddies this morning.]

[The gull kept to its routine, flying around the marina and perching only occasionally.]

After three hours waiting for, watching and photographing the bird, I was freezing and yet couldn't tear myself away. There's something about this bird, its dark eyes, grace, origin.

Cape May in general has a similar effect. I think it was Doug Gochfeld who remarked this morning (in the direction of Melissa Roach, who is done counting hawks and yet lingers) that Cape May is a black hole, with inescapable pull.

[Since the tide was high and not much fish was available, Scott Whittle found a couple bluefish carcasses to chum the gull in. I'd bet at least 10,000 photos of this bird have been taken during its five day stay. Indeed, Kevin Karlson has begun an Ivory Gull Photo Album, the contents of which will undoubtedly blossom in coming days.]

I understand from Derek Courtney that there were indeed 5 Harlequin Ducks at Poverty Beach on Monday, and another was at Avalon again today. The Coral/Cambridge Selasphorus hummingbird continues.

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