Tuesday, December 19, 2006
I was sorting my digital image files and came across this image of a 3rd winter Black-tailed Gull I photographed on Lake Champlain, VT, last November 22, 2005. Since I hadn't yet started doing a blog (I started in Feb. 06), I didn't have a chance to write about it and share this photo.
This was an exciting, rare bird that brought many birders to VT. Black-tailed Gull is an Asian species that usually hangs out in Japan and China, but has wandered to North America more than 20 times, the majority of which have been to Alaska.
There is a funny story about how it was found. A woman named Julie Hart was trying to get a strong cell phone signal and decided to go down to Charlotte beach on Lake Champlain. While there, she looked over the usual Ring-billed Gull flock and noticed a darker gull with red on the bill tip. She called a friend, who then called a friend (an expert birder) and ... the rest is history. This was a first state record for VT. Birders from many states flocked and the gull made the news.
I loved photographing this elegant bird. The striking black band on the tail is distinctive and the red tip next to the black on the bill gives just the right splash of color to add a little drama, (for a gull, that is).
The interesting thing about the sightings of this gull is that they have occurred in various places, including California, Texas, Michigan, Virginia, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, etc. It is thought that this bird can show up just about anywhere, so.... are you looking??
Photo © Lillian Stokes, 2006