Ebony and Ivory

by Lanny McDowell on January 20, 2009

Sorry, I could not figure out a smooth way to introduce ebony into this narrative except maybe to say one the other two birders who joined me to go off-Island to Gloucester in search of the Ivory Gull seen there since Saturday last is by profession a high level piano technician and innovator here on the Vineyard named David Stanwood.  The other bird sleuth was Whit Manter, another West Tisburyite with a hankering to blow off a Monday in favor of finding a rare and exquisite life bird.

On the way to the ferry, when it was still predawn, Whit and I had a near miss with a Barn Owl, as we headed out of town to catch the seven o’clock.  At the other end of the day, as we crossed the Sagamore Bridge back onto Cape Cod, we had an adult Peregine sitting atop one of the large light pillars right alongside the roadway.  However, the purpose of this meander is the meat of this avian sandwich, one beautiful adult Ivory Gull frequenting some very accessible maritime haunts up in Gloucester.

If you are unfamiliar with this avian gem, please consult your birding reference and note the range of this gull. That range is far north of New England.  The bird is an unblemished golden white all over.  The feet are black and they have longish toenails for gripping the ice which is its home.

Approximately two point three gazillion pictures have been taken of this bird over the last few days, many of them quite striking.  I humbly offer some of my own, but the first is a shot of the hopeful crowd on the nineteenth. 














 Please note Comment #2 for updated info.   And now … our star!













Birds are cool!  Lanny     These images and more are available for purchase.  Contact me or View store.

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porter 01.20.09 at 4:14 pm

nice cameo of Lan in group photo gorgeous bird to boot wish I could have been there freezing eyeballs with you ‘core’ birders appropos for an ivory gull i suppose back to laysan watching locker


Lanny McDowell 01.20.09 at 5:21 pm

I see what you mean, Porter, but that is not Lan. Looks like Lan, but I took the picture.

BTW Betty Andersen emailed me to ask if I had seen today’s report of a second Ivory Gull in Plymouth, which is quite some distance from Gloucester, even as the gull flies. Here is an excerpt:

“Ivory Gull invasion to New England? Jeremiah Trimble just called me
to report that Barry Burden has found and photographed an adult IVORY
GULL in Plymouth Harbor around noon today (20 Jan). The bird was
sitting at the edge of the parking lot at the public boat ramp behind
the East Point Grill. It flew off towards Plymouth Beach.”

How about that?!


Pete Gilmore 01.28.09 at 8:54 am

Great snowies. First documentation that snowy owls have a sense of humor.

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