A Black-legged Kittiwake was reported on New Year’s Day at Hoover Dam north of Columbus.  On Saturday, 3 Jan, my son Hugh, a science writer at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, went up to see if we could find it, which eventually we did.  Ned Keller intercepted us in the parking lot and vectored us to the right area.  After checking through three groups of gulls, a nice lad came along and pointed us to it.  In our defense, the bird was sitting on the ice facing away from us, so we didn’t feel too stupid.  Also, we were able to pass along the favor by pointing out the bird to four or five others who arrived later.

After a while, the whole group of gulls got up and flew over to the south side of the dam.  We shifted up to the dam in hopes of getting a closer view.  We failed to find it until someone yelled, “There it goes!” as it saile back over to the north side of the dam and settled again on the ice.  However, it was closer this time and at a better angle to the sun.  I unlimbered my camera, the 400 mm zoom lens and my brand-new-for-Christmas doubler.  Even at 800 mm, though, it was too far away to make a decent picture.  In desperation, I got out my Panasonic point-and-shoot and tried digiscoping, a technique I had given up on a year ago.  But surprisingly, I got a couple of good shots.  I guess the law of averages does indeed work both ways:  you can’t lose ’em all.

Kittiwake in comparison with Ring-billed Gulls

Kittiwake in comparison with Ring-billed Gulls

Detail from previous picture.  The black post-ocular mark, the black "scarf" and the "carpal bar" indicate that this is a first-winter bird.

Detail from previous picture. The black post-ocular mark, the black "scarf" and the "carpal bar" indicate that this is a first-winter bird.

A somewhat more common posture.  Thankfully, the bird moved around a fair amount, giving good looks at all the field marks to those with a bit of patience.

A somewhat more common posture. Thankfully, the bird moved around a fair amount, giving good looks at all the field marks to those with a bit of patience.

Advertisements