Mature Arctic Ivory Gull Seen in Massachusetts – first time in over a century

One of the claims about “global climate change” is that it will affect the normal ranges of flora and fauna of our planet. Well, with a very cold northern hemisphere this winter, that seems to happening. A bird not seen (as a mature adult) in Massachusetts since the 1800’s , an Ivory Gull, normally an inhabitant of arctic areas, has been spotted. Here are the details from the Plymouth, MA Patriot-Ledger. – Anthony

GULL-LOVER’S TRAVELS: Birdwatchers flock to Plymouth to spot rare specimen

gull gd 012709-03.JPG

PLYMOUTH — Jan 28th, 2009

The temperatures were in the single digits, but not low enough to keep the gawkers away. A celebrity was in town, behind the East Bay Grille, a visitor not seen in these parts in decades, if not longer.

But these weren’t paparazzi, and this wasn’t a Hollywood star. Rather, they were avid birdwatchers – about 20 in all – braving the frigid air as they scanned the bay and the edges of the breakwater with binoculars and spotting scopes.

And they would be rewarded, catching a glimpse of a glimpse of a rare, fully mature ivory gull. A birdwatcher reported seeing one in Plymouth last week, and another was spotted at Eastern Point Lighthouse in Gloucester. From Sunday through Tuesday, the avian visitor was a regular in Plymouth, much to the delight of birdwatchers, who came from near and far in hopes of adding the extremely rare bird to their life list.

Ivory gulls normally stay well above Newfoundland, living on Arctic ice where they follow whales and polar bears to feed on the scraps and carcasses they leave behind after making a kill.

http://media.townonline.com/patriotledger/photos/ivory_gull_map.jpg

Until this year, the last report of a fully mature ivory gull in Massachusetts was in the 1800s. Three immature birds were seen in the 1940s. In 1976, another immature bird had been spotted in Rockport.

Russell Graham of Dallas is flying in Friday for a three-day visit. He’s hoping the gull will still be in town when he arrives.

“The ivory gull is one of a handful of birds that every birder dreams of seeing but almost no one has.,” he said. “This isn’t a dream that’s confined to North America. There is also an immature bird in France that is causing the same reaction there. There are a couple of places where you can go in the summer and expect to see one but they are distant and expensive – Svalbard on Spitsbergen, Norway and Pond Inlet on Baffin Island, Canada.

“I never thought I would have the chance to see one and I can’t pass up this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

If the gull is gone, Graham will consider a side trip to Nova Scotia, where two adult ivory gulls have been seen recently. “I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed,” he said.

John Fox of Arlington, Va., and his friend Adam D’Onofrio of Petersburg drove more than eight hours on Sunday to see the gull.

“No bird this morning,” Fox said a day later, shaking his head. “We left Virginia at three in the morning yesterday and arrived here 20 minutes too late.”

On Sunday morning, hundreds of people got to observe and photograph the gull as it fed on a chicken carcass someone put out on one of the docks in the parking lot. The bird stayed until 11 a.m., then flew across the harbor. It was not seen again for the rest of the day.

“We arrived at 11:20 and spent the rest of the afternoon in the parking lot, hoping it would return,” Fox said.

They stayed at Pilgrim Sands Motel and arrived at the parking lot early Monday morning for one more chance to see the ivory gull before returning to Virginia. Fox said it was his first time in Massachusetts. If he didn’t see the bird, he said, at least he could see Plymouth Rock before they left for home.

“That’s how it goes sometimes,” he said. “We don’t always see what we come for, but it’s nice to see some of the sights when you travel to a new area in hopes of seeing a rare bird.”

As Fox was planning his exit, a commotion caught his attention. One of the birders pointed toward the sky and said with a shout, “There it is.”

The pure white gull was flying toward the parking lot, silhouetted against a bright blue sky. Someone in the crowd announced for the record the gull had arrived at 7:45 a.m.

The bird flew in circles overhead, then landed on a snow bank in the middle of the parking lot. Cameras clicked and the birders “oohed and ahhhed” each time the ivory gull switched positions.

“Look how white it is,” someone said. “It’s got black feet, black eyes and a grayish-black beak,” said another.

The gull eyeballed the chicken carcass, still there from the day before, but it didn’t eat. Instead, it flew to the railing along the edge of the boat ramp and perched with a group of sea gulls. The photographers followed, changing positions to get the best lighting.

Fox stood with the group, talking with other birdwatchers, as the gull sat peacefully on the railing, observing all the people gathered around it. Was it worth the long drive up from Virginia?

“It sure was,” Fox said with a smile.

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RobJM

Those bird watchers better watch out for the polar bear the gulls are following!

Well, it’s bleeding obvious, isn’t it?
“Ivory gulls normally stay well above Newfoundland, living on Arctic ice where they follow whales and polar bears to feed on the scraps and carcasses they leave behind after making a kill.”
Whales have been hunted to extinction, polar bears have have drowned and starved, and the Arctic Ice has all melted, so of course these poor animals are seeking sustenance well outside their habitat.
Shameful.

Ralph B.

I am overseas so I recieve my copy of the Gloucester Daily Times usually a week or more late. I just read this story and was thinking of sending an e-mail to Anthony when I look at the site and voila. One other bird that has been seen in record numbers is the northern snowy owl. They also mentioned a slaty-backed gull being seen for the first time, but I have no clue as to where that bird normally hangs out.

Darell C. Phillips

I’d believe the wisdom this arctic gull brings to us for free before I’d believe what $140 million dollars more spent on computer models would give us. That gull is “priceless”.

Darell C. Phillips

OK, I’ll take the hit. I’m going to call this bird an “OraGull” of future events. 8^)

Fox stood with the group, talking with other birdwatchers, as the gull sat peacefully on the railing, observing all the people gathered around it. Was it worth the long drive up from Virginia?
“It sure was,” Fox said with a smile.

I’ll never understand birdwatchers as long as I live.

E.M.Smith

I wonder if there is an official record of extreme bird observations? It could make an interesting cross check on temperature records. Birds with known temperature preferences plotted by geographical range and density by year…
Now all we need is a polar bear in Maine 😉

Matti Virtanen

Although it might appear cold to North Americans, global temperature has actually surged in January:
http://discover.itsc.uah.edu/amsutemps/execute.csh?amsutemps+001
Anybody have a clue about what’s going on?
REPLY: I think that mostly is SH, but we have to wait for the January data from UAH to know for certain. – Anthony

Mike McMillan

E.M.Smith (01:39:56) :
I wonder if there is an official record of extreme bird observations? It could make an interesting cross check on temperature records. Birds with known temperature preferences plotted by geographical range and density by year…

With Raw and GISS Homogenized data sets.

Allan M

These two birdwatchers have driven from Virginia to Massachusetts, belching CO2 all the way, wrecking the planet and causing us to boil to death, to look at a gull.
(sarc. off)

Chuck

Matti Virtanen (01:41:43) :
Although it might appear cold to North Americans, global temperature has actually surged in January:
here in South East Australia we are experience a heat wave, which has been jumped on by the government as a sign of climate change.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/01/29/2477433.htm?section=justin

PeterT

Poor little blighters, driven out of their normally cold Arctic home by global warming, flying endlessly in a fruitless search for some cooler weather untill they can fly no more, their little heart beats then faulters, they close their eyes and perish in a foreign land and another chapter of global warming is written.

Matti
Maximum temperature of 31Degree Fahrenheit at 3300 feet? What sort of graph is this and what global temperature are they measuring-Mars?
TonyB

I visited this beautiful Gull on Monday, January 26th. I was fortunate to capture some beautiful images. What a beautiful, pure, snow white Gull! A once in a lifetime opportunity and certainly worth the trip from Rhode Island.
Michelle St.Sauveur

Michelle St.Sauveur, those are some very nice pics on your site. Thanks for making them available.

bob weaver

just beautiful, went to Plymouth on the 25th & 26th from R.I. to see this bird, a lifer for me, some 250 photos later, and i’d still go up again just to watch this bird. If you have the chance to see it, its more than worth the trip, so get in your vechicle, pack your binocs, camera, field guide, and get on the road. from R.I., its a one hour drive, and you’ll probably run into some birders you know there.

Thanks Smoky! Glad you enjoyed them!
Michelle

pkatt

Good thing its not near where they were poisoning birds for some grand purpose. Did ya hear about that? http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,483627,00.html
If i were the folks in this community I would be takin one of those bodys to someone for further analysis. Who poisons that many birds and doesnt bother to tell anyone.??

realitycheck

Anecdotal datapoints like this (and the bitterly cold weather in Alaska, and the cold weather in North America, and the growing glaciers in Alaska, and the record ice extent in Antartica, and the cold outbreaks in China and the snow in UAE and the record low solar activity and the lack of heating in the Tropical Troposphere are just “noise”), whereas my trusty atmospheric model (which does not really model the atmosphere correctly at all – lets keep that bit quiet) says the climate is definitely getting warmer…
My blindfold and earmuffs are on. I’m not listening….I’m not listening. La…La…La
Time to feed the computer-god another $140K to make it look warmer somewhere else.
(sarc off)

Charles

In the UK this year there have been simliar sightings of rare artic birds
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/wildlife/4240110/Three-snowy-owls-spotted-in-UK.html

docb

It seems that a arctic Snowy Owl has taken up residence in Tennessee as well – something not seen since 1987.
http://www.tennessean.com/article/20090121/GREEN05/90121023/-1/RSS05

Steve M.

great pictures, thanks Michelle!

Anecdotal evidence has become much more reliable than paid alarmism.

Neil Hampshire

I am giving a talkon “A cool view of global warming” to our local natural history society
I might be Daniel walking into the lions den, but if anyone has links to other global cooling animal or flora story’s I would be pleased to note them for use in my talk

Garacka

Miscellaneous birdy observations 1960’s to present, Northeast USA:
i. Turkey Vultures range has moved further and further North.
ii. Canada Geese population has exploded (Perhaps the US could go after the Canadians for unfair export practices)
iii. American Turkey population has surged.
iv. Coyote population has also surged. (I recall observations in Rhode Island, USA 1st occurring in about 1979 or so)
v. Early 1970’s, Fall Season, Central Connecticut USA: 1 Snowy owl observed. (there really hard to miss when the leaves are gone.
I would guess that most of the above are not Climate Change related, but who knows?
Oops. Coyote is not a bird.

Mick J

Here are a few recent reports of a similar nature from the London Daily Telegraph.

Obviously fleeing those Siberian hotspots. 🙂


Ideally I got the formatting correct. :)

Shawn Whelan

Then there is this cruise ship stuck in the St. Lawrence and the ice breaker sent to free her also stuck in the ice.
http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20090127/frozen_ship_090127/20090127?hub=CanadaAM

Mick J

Mods, my previous posts in the pre-mod view looks broken tag wise so here is a clean version without tags.
Here are a few recent reports of a similar nature from the London Daily Telegraph.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/wildlife/3501029/Invasion-of-waxwings-suggests-a-cold-winter.html Invasion of waxwings suggests a cold winter
They are traditionally said to herald the onset of icy weather, so the arrival of unusually high numbers of waxwings suggests a cold spell ahead for Britain.
Obviously fleeing those Siberian hotspots. 🙂
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/wildlife/4060327/Birdwatcher-makes-fruitless-journey-to-Norway-only-to-find-snow-bunting-in-her-garden.html
Birdwatcher makes fruitless journey to Norway only to find snow bunting in her garden
A birdwatcher who made a fruitless journey to Norway to see a rare snow bunting, returned home to Britain only to discover one of the species had landed on her garden fence.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/wildlife/4240110/Three-snowy-owls-spotted-in-UK.html
Three snowy owls spotted in UK
Snowy owls have been spotted in three areas of southern England – Cornwall, Alderney and Guernsey – thousands of miles from their usual feeding grounds.

robert brucker

Anthony, what is the significance of the results of Roy Spencer’s AMSU temperature increase at 3,300 Ft. and decrease at high altitude? I am a skeptic. I don’t buy into AGW. I believe that because of the 178 year Jose cycle we are in for some cool times ahead. But, can we still say that we are in cooling trend for the last five years?

darwin

I can’t wait to hear how the appearance of the gull is proof of global warming.
Sadly, some people actually now believe that falling temperatures, not to mention record snow is an indication of a warming planet.

Brian Johnson

We sometimes get Monarch Butterflies in the UK. They have “Wrong Way Corrigan” printed on their wings.[Joke] Nature does odd things and generally mankind has nothing to do with the oddities.
I had a horse chestnut tree outside my office that for no reason had a full second flowering in early October. Country Life printed the pictures. Flowered twice for 3 years running and then stopped. 1974 wasn’t a global warming year as I recall.

robert brucker

anthony, Matti vertanen asked a similar question. The global temperature as measured twice daily by AMSU from satellite shows the questioned results. The link is on Vertanen’s comment. Sorry if the comment was given during a discussion about birds, but nobody really commented on the earlier question by Matti Vertanen.
I enjoy your site, and I read it daily. Almost daily there questioned asked or comments made that are not related to the post of the day.
I apologize. I just wanted to know what you think about the global temp.

Pierre Gosselin

I noticed Al Gore referred to our need for energy independence in addition to the “grave” threat of global warming. Is he building himself a back door?
Maybe Obama’s plan will be to screw things up in the Middle East and to create a crisis to send oil prices shooting upwards…thus making Gore’s argument more compelling.
One trend I’ve noticed: MORE SCEPTICS
Reader comments at newspaper websites with stories on AGW are overwelmingly sceptical, with many scoffing at the notion of AGW.
And once the fuel bills come due, look for the AGW fantasy to be ridiculed even more.

John Galt

Some people spotted some drowned polar bears after bad storms and the myth of climate change threatening polar bears was thus created. Let’s not rush in and do the same thing with this sighting.

Jeff Alberts

Russell Graham of Dallas is flying in Friday for a three-day visit. He’s hoping the gull will still be in town when he arrives.

John Fox of Arlington, Va., and his friend Adam D’Onofrio of Petersburg drove more than eight hours on Sunday to see the gull.

I don’t get it either. How many of these people also scream that the world is boiling?

DAV

Pierre Gosselin (06:52:07) : One trend I’ve noticed: MORE SCEPTICS
Reader comments at newspaper websites with stories on AGW are overwelmingly sceptical, with many scoffing at the notion of AGW.
And once the fuel bills come due, look for the AGW fantasy to be ridiculed even more.

I dunno. I don’t think it will stop the political juggernaut. Back in the 70’s, when this all started, it was Global Cooling — Anthropogenic Global Cooling, that is. The wheel is just making another cycle. AGW will be conveniently replaced with a hurried rush back to AGC but don’t expect it to have any real effect on politics.

robert brucker

Anthony, my laptop’s battery was running low. I did not have the time to present my question succintly. I do not know how to include a link. The link on Mattie Vertanen’s comment directs you to the AMSU Temps site authored by Roy Spencer. The graph shows the Daily Global Average Temp at 3,300 Ft. as being 1.06 degrees F warmer than this day last year. The temp at 118,000 Ft. is 0.74 degrees F cooler. Can you or anyone please explain to me the significance of these changes? If you don’t want to answer on the post, please email an answer.
Thanks

tarpon

Snow birds moving south.

Harold Pierce Jr

ATTN: Kaboom
The real reason is that the 6,000,000+ seals in the area are eating 12,000,000,000 lbs of seaford a year. At this rate it won’t be too long before the entire fishery collapses.
Then the silk-stocking enviromentalists and limosine liberals, who fund the holier-than-thou protestors of spring seal hunt, will start whining because there are no fish, lobsters and crabs to eat at the fancy joints in NYC!

SanityCheck

Matti Virtanen (01:41:43) : wrote
“Although it might appear cold to North Americans, global temperature has actually surged in January:
http://discover.itsc.uah.edu/amsutemps/execute.csh?amsutemps+001
Anybody have a clue about what’s going on?”
There has been an “SSW” (Sudden Stratospheric Warming) event–they happen occasionally. Take a look at this one:
http://www.cpc.noaa.gov/products/stratosphere/temperature/10mb9065.gif
Then, go read this one:
http://www.innovations-report.de/html/berichte/physik_astronomie/cosmic_rays_detected_deep_underground_reveal_secrets_125785.html

philincalifornia

John A (01:12:22) : wrote:
I’ll never understand birdwatchers as long as I live.
————–
The time is right perhaps for Jim Hansen to take up birdwatching ??
Pierre Gosselin (06:52:07) :wrote:
I noticed Al Gore referred to our need for energy independence in addition to the “grave” threat of global warming. Is he building himself a back door?
————-
No Pierre, I think he will probably follow the leader, and exit through the same back door that Obama left open. He will probably linger in the doorway through summer ….
….. and then leave John Kerry talking to an empty room.

lulo

I hear that large sections of Australia are the warmest they have been for 70 years. That’s pretty good evidence for global warming… er… uh? It was even warmer 70 years ago???

robert brucker

Sanity Check,
Thank you. I had not heard of Sudden Stratospheric Warming Events. My question has been answered.

James

Apparently NOAA has been spending taxpayer money studying the safety of Arctic shipping lanes that do not yet exist:
http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2009/20090129_arctic.html
UNH/NOAA Report: Arctic Region Underprepared for Maritime Accidents
January 29, 2009
High resolution (Credit: NOAA)
The existing infrastructure for responding to maritime accidents in the Arctic is limited and more needs to be done to enhance emergency response capacity as Arctic sea ice declines and ship traffic in the region increases, according to new report released today by the University of New Hampshire and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The report details findings from a panel of experts and decision-makers from Arctic nation governments, industry and indigenous communities convened by the Coastal Response Research Center, a UNH-NOAA partnership housed at the university. The panel, which included representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Arctic Research Commission, assessed the potential threat of maritime accidents in the Arctic and the ability of nations in the region to respond effectively to vessels in distress, oil spills and other situations.
“The reduction of polar sea ice and the increasing worldwide demand for energy will likely result in a dramatic increase in the number of vessels that travel Arctic waters,” said Nancy Kinner, UNH co-director of the CRRC and a professor of civil and environmental engineering. “As vessel traffic increases, disaster scenarios are going to become more of a reality.”
The report’s key recommendations include:
* Strengthening multinational plans and agreements for all types of responses
* Improving logistical support capabilities for disaster responders
* Updating weather data and navigational charts for the Arctic
* Studying the behavior of oil in cold water and improving technologies for spill response in Arctic conditions
* Designating potential ports in the Arctic where damaged vessels can be taken to safeguard them against the Arctic’s harsh environmental conditions and reduce the risk of harm to the environment
The report’s findings and recommendations are based on the panel’s examination of five potential emergency response scenarios: a grounded cruise ship whose 2,000 passengers and crew must abandon the vessel; an ice-trapped and damaged ore carrier; an explosion on a fixed drilling rig north of Alaska; a collision between a tanker and fishing vessel that results in a large oil spill; and the grounding of a tug towing a supplies barge in an environmentally sensitive area near the Bering Strait.
“Now is the time to prepare for maritime accidents and potential spills in the Arctic,” said Amy Merten, NOAA co-director of the CRRC. “This report clearly indicates that international cooperation and adequate resources are key to saving lives and protecting this special region.”
The report is available online.
The University of New Hampshire, founded in 1866, is a world-class public research university with the feel of a New England liberal arts college. A land, sea and space-grant university, UNH is the state’s flagship public institution, enrolling 11,800 undergraduate and 2,400 graduate students.
NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.

Austin

Arctic Owls are frequently seen in the lower 48 during very bad winters. They were very common in 1884 and 1889.

Mike Bryant

I hope the Arctic Gulls and Snowy Owls don’t tangle with any windmills.

Gaudenz Mischol

Matti Virtanen (01:41:43) :
Although it might appear cold to North Americans, global temperature has actually surged in January:
http://discover.itsc.uah.edu/amsutemps/execute.csh?amsutemps+001
draw the same graph and include other years (1998 to 2007) and you will see that it is absolutely not abnormal

Dell Hunt, Jackson, Michigan

RE: Matti Virtanen (01:41:43) :
Although it might appear cold to North Americans, global temperature has actually surged in January:
http://discover.itsc.uah.edu/amsutemps/execute.csh?amsutemps+001
Anybody have a clue about what’s going on?
REPLY: I think that mostly is SH, but we have to wait for the January data from UAH to know for certain. – Anthony
I’v noticed that too. Here in Michigan, I’ve been keeping track of January temps, highs are 5.5 degrees below average, but the lows are over 14 degrees below average.
http://www.weather.com/outlook/travel/businesstraveler/monthly/USMI0028?from=sixten_topnav
Average high for January is 30, average low is 17. Calculated the data through yesterday, we have had an average high of 24.5 and an average low of just under 3.
What is rather interesting is the extremely steep increase after the middle of January, and the fact that it is a VERY SMOOTH SHARP STEADY INCREASE. Looking over the past graphs, usually there is more “noise” in the day to day temps. Not to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but that seems really strange, especially given the major cooling trend we have seen all across the more northern lattitudes since that time.

Alec, a.k.a Daffy Duck

Back in the early 70’s I saw one in Maine.
Did a google…they are seen now and then in New England:
“We had previously dipped on two nearby Ivory Gulls, an adult on the Hudson River two years ago and an immature in Rhode Island last winter…”
http://shorebirder.blogspot.com/2009/01/watch-out-for-ivory-gulls.html

Ed Scott

Planet Earth is in “grave” danger, from Algore, Hansen, Pachauri, the IPCC et sl. Complete with the obligatory mention of the Nobel Prize and the Oscar.
————————————————————-
Gore: Planet is in ‘grave danger’
http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/gore-planet-is-in-grave-danger-2009-01-28.html
“This is the one challenge that could completely end human civilization, and it is rushing at us with such speed and force,”…