Friday, March 10, 2017

Ivory Gull! - 10 Mar 2017


Lauren LaFave is probably the most popular woman in Michigan today. Yesterday, she reported seeing what looked like an Ivory Gull on the Flint River in the middle of the University of Michigan - Flint Campus in Flint, MI. This morning, Adam Byrne, and a whole slew of other birders, refound the  bird near the dam in the middle of campus. This bird of the Arctic Circle represents Michigan's 2nd record of this species.

I saw the post this morning while at work, and decided to make a run up to Flint (1.5 hrs) after lunch. I arrived at 2:30 pm and followed the handful of birders making their way toward the dam. There, on the near shoreline sat a bright white gull next to swirling brown water.  It sat quietly while a number of people photographed it from 30 - 50' away, then quietly swam past us before taking flight upstream, circling, then heading back over the bridge and landing on the other side of the dam.





We were able to walk around the other side of the river and photograph it quietly at a distance from the top of the hill while the bird sat quietly on the ledge next to the river. I fired off a couple dozen shots and then took a handful of digiscoped images before backing away. Even at this distance it felt intrusive. But, the gull seemed unfazed by the attention it was getting and quietly rested.  I would head back to the car while bundling up against the frigid wind and drive back home before 5 pm.




Thank you, Lauren! This is a bucket list bird, which means I'm now that much closer to kicking the bucket. Worth it!!!

Epilogue: Sadly, today (3/13/2017) the Ivory Gull was found dead next to the riverbank just hours after several people saw it for the last time. The body was collected and taken to UofM Ann Arbor Zoology Dept. where they will do a necropsy and tissue samples, and add the bird to their collection.
This evening I got the opportunity to meet Lauren at Kensington Metropark, where I gave a shorebird talk to the Huron Valley Audubon Society. She told me she was invited to see the bird in Ann Arbor and is planning to go there tomorrow. Lauren, the bird was delightful, but you were moreso. Congratulation on your find!

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