On Saturday, January 28, Joan Collins, an Adirondack bird guide, invited us to look for the rarest bird in North American, the Ross’s Gull. This diminutive gull, not much larger than a Robin, breeds in Siberia, and is a rare visitor to Arctic Canada. One had been sighted along the Raquette River in Tupper Lake. Word went out on the Internet and avid birders dropped everything to race to the remote central Adirondacks.
We searched for a couple hours without success then decided to enjoy some of the other birds in the area such as the Barred Owl and the Gray Jay. As we drove south along the river a woman in our group caught a brief glimpse of a white bird landing on the ice next to a stretch of open water. There it was! a small pale gull, 200 yards away.
Soon over a hundred people arrived armed with huge telephoto lenses and spotting scopes. Many had traveled here from as far away as Georgia with the hope of sighting this bird. Two State Troopers showed up to see what the trouble was, and were astonished to find a bird was causing the traffic jam. After hearing Joan’s explanation they stopped trying to break up the group, and helped organize our cars on the shoulder of the road. It was my first experience with the world of extreme birders. Even though I was delighted to see such a rare bird I have to confess walking quietly in the woods is more my style.
Thank you to Joan for an exciting day of birding and to Scott Stoner Naturelogues for sharing a photo my small lens couldn’t capture.
(Photo Credit: Scott Stoner Naturelogues)