Thursday, 21 November 2013

Elegant Tern on the Niagara River!

Yesterday afternoon an orange-billed tern was found on the Niagara River by Vicky Rothman, who notified Jim Pawlicki. Jim and Vicky relocated the bird and were surprised to see it was apparently a 1st cycle Elegant Tern! They observed the bird was Beaver Island State Park on Grand Island, Erie County, New York. As far as I am aware the bird was not seen on the Ontario side of the river, though the border is much closer to the New York side than the Ontario side at this point. If the bird sticks around, it seems like only a matter of time until it flies into Ontario airspace.

Jim took a few photos, which can be viewed on his Flickr page here. He also has a map of the area where the bird was seen on his Flickr page.

 There are no records for Ontario or the entire Great Lakes region, much like the Brown Booby from earlier this autumn. In fact 10 years ago there were only two records of Elegant Tern in eastern North America: a bird in Corpus Christi, Texas on July 25, 1889 and one from June 20, 1985 at Chincoteague NWR, Virginia. Elegant Terns breed in the Gulf of California and are regular in southern California; however, in recent years they have been exhibiting vagrancy up the Pacific Coast with records as far north as British Columbia. On the east coast they are still a major rarity though there have been somewhere between 5 and 10 records. In fact, vagrants have been seen as far afield as Denmark, Ireland, Belgium, and South Africa!

Wikipedia tells me this is what they look like

I am currently at work but if this tern decides to make an appearance at the river today, I'll see what I can do. Good luck to those looking right now!

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