Feb 3, 2017
Justin A. Levine
TUPPER LAKE — An extremely rare bird has been here for the last week, and it’s drawn hundreds of birders from around the country.
The Ross’ gull makes its home in the Arctic and is rarely seen this far south. Larry Master, a Lake Placid resident who organizes the annual Christmas bird count for the Audubon Society, said this was a once-in-a-lifetime chance for local birders.
Jorie Favreau, a professor at Paul Smith’s College, was in Tupper Lake Wednesday with a group of students and said there were cars from around the Northeast.
“Rare bird sightings usually result in a group of people who are strangers but share a camaraderie (especially when standing in a windy 16 degrees),” Favreau wrote in an email. “The mood was elated.”
“A beautiful small gull of the far north, named after the great Arctic explorer James Clark Ross. Breeds mainly in remote stretches of northern Siberia, spending other seasons among the ice pack of the Arctic Ocean,” the Audubon Society says of the bird. “Was considered almost mythical by most North American birders until 1980, when it began nesting for several years near a paved road at Churchill, Manitoba. Currently regular only at a few points in Alaska, but rare winter strays turn up farther south.”
Master said Jack Delahanty spotted the bird on Tuesday, Jan. 24. When Delahanty couldn’t identify it, he sent photos to Master, who identified it. Master posted the find online, and word spread quickly.
“I was in Washington at a board meeting last week, so I could not go to see the bird on Thursday, when many arrived to see it, but I did see it on Friday and took over 600 photos and videos over the course of a day,” Master said in an email. “This morning (Wednesday), there was a couple there who had driven from Traverse City, Michigan, to see the bird. On the weekend, there were birders in cars with license plates from Georgia, Maryland, Indiana and our bordering states.”