It will come as no surprise to parents out there that being the father of two small children has had a huge impact on my birding life – in fact, I don’t have much of one these days. But yesterday, being the “doting daddy” paid dividends. It’s Easter, and we’re visiting my family in Lewisporte, at the bottom of Notre Dame Bay. After a big family dinner, our youngest daughter fell asleep in the car – and daddy volunteered to drive around for an hour while she napped. Why not?!?! It’s a fine excuse to sneak in a bit of out-the-window birding.
I was checking some local coastline, my thoughts drifting to European shorebirds that might be lurking around after these great winds of late. After an hour of fruitless searching, I stopped in at the bottom of Lewisporte harbour to check out the gulls. I was watching a Black-headed Gull float by when out of the corner of my eye I noticed a small white gull standing on the ice edge. It was a bit distant, but it sure looked like an immature IVORY GULL!!!
The volume of my heartbeat must have risen dramatically because, at that very instant, Leslie woke up and started kicking the back of my seat. I immediately dropped her off at home, grabbed my scope, stole some moose meat from the fridge and headed back in hopes of much better looks.
I spread the meat on some ice near the shoreline (it was much too thin to risk walking out any distance at all) and set up about ten feet away, camera ready. The Ivory Gull poked around way out on the ice edge for a while, sometimes flying around as if looking for morsels bobbing around in the icy water – but it never showed any intentions of coming my way. After about an hour, it lifted off and flew further out the harbour where other gulls were loafing around.
My father had joined me, and we relocated the Ivory Gull milling about behind some houses. In fact, it was hanging out on some slob ice just metres away from a private wharf – the looks from that wharf would have been amazing! Fortunately, dad knew the homeowners, knocked on the door and asked if we could head down … No problem, of course. We bathed in awesome, point-blank looks for the next half hour, and I took a gluttonous number of photos as it picked around in the ice and posed. Good flight shots were lacking since the sun was low and bright, casting shadows across its body at almost every angle … but what am I complaining about?!?! Happy Easter to me!!