[Ontbirds]Of Wind, Ice, and the Ross's Gull

Willie D'Anna and Betsy Potter dannapotter at roadrunner.com
Thu Jan 31 19:06:08 EST 2008

For those who are not aware of it, Wednesday was incredibly windy in Western
NY and the Niagara Peninsula of Ontario.  In fact it was the windiest day I
and many others I have talked to, have ever experienced here.  The highest
wind gust I heard about was over 80 mph.  Combined with off-and-on
lake-effect snow squalls and bitter wind-chills, it made looking for the
Ross's Gull an exercise in perseverence, if not outright survival!  I only
heard of one group of birders who saw it - 15 feet away from them while they
sat in their car in the parking lot at the upstream (east) end of Goat
Island.  And fortunately, the gull was seen again today (see Ontbirds, the
list service for Ontario - http://birdingonthe.net/  Click on
Regional/Specialty, then Ontario).

The incredible wind forced tons of ice to the eastern end of Lake Erie where
it broke the ice-boom.  The ice-boom is a man-made structure of chains and
railroad ties spanning from NY to Ontario at the head of the Niagara River,
designed to prevent the ice from entering the river where it can cause
problems with power-production and flood residents along the river.  When I
drove home from work today, the ice went from shore to shore just a couple
of miles upstream from the famous cataracts.  It has been many many years
since I have seen that.

I don't know how this ice will affect the gulls, and in particular the
Ross's Gull.  That is, it could affect where they forage and how successful
they are.  The gulling has been really good for this time of the year but,
typically, many leave when there is a lot of ice and do not return,
especially the small gulls.  You may not want to delay trying for this bird
much longer.  Anyway, I will be doing some looking this weekend.

In the meantime I encourage people to post on whether or not they were
successful in looking for the Ross's Gull and where they looked.  Any
information could be helpful for relocating the bird, even negative reports.

The forecast for Friday here is not good - freezing rain, snow, and sleet,
and becoming windy with a high temperature not much above freezing.

Good birding everyone,
Willie D'Anna
Betsy Potter
Wilson, NY

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