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Monday, July 07, 2008

Rare Birds

Black-tailed Gull

Rare birds are what hard core birders dream about and often will pay big bucks to go and see. The AP had a story today on "Bird Watchers as far away a Britain Flock to Alaska to See Rare Birds." St. Paul Island (part of the Pribilof Islands) in Alaska has many bird watchers coming to see its impressive list of unusual birds including, Bristle-thighed Curlew, McKay's Bunting, Smith's Longspur, Red-legged Kittiwake, Emperor Goose, Aleutian Tern, and various auklets, murrelets, puffins, other seabirds and more. " The island is famous for its Asian vagrants — birds blown off-course and ending up on St. Paul because it is the only place around to rest." You can take birding tours to this wonderful place. On June 6th a Black-tailed Gull showed up there for the first time, flying with a group of Kittiwakes.

I photographed the above Black-tailed Gull in Vermont, when it showed up for the first time there in 2006. This is an Asian species usually found in Japan and China, but it can wander far and wide, turning up in some unusual places.

One of the fun things about rare birds, is that they can be anywhere, even in your own back yard. If one turned up there would you know it? All the more reason to hone your identification skills and get to know your common birds well so you would be alert to any rarity. Chance favors the prepared mind.


Anonymous said...

Chance favors the prepared mind.

All the more reason for me to work on my (as of now, terrible) gull ID skills.

northern birder said...

Thanks for sharing this rare gull. I have been more interested in gulls lately and appreciate being made aware of this one.