Tuesday, July 22, 2008

How Not to Chase

I have three "silver bullets" this year in the form of frequent flyer airline tickets. I've been saving them for rarities that might show up upstate, so that I can get up there quickly and save the 14 hour round-trip drive to Niagara Falls or Dunkirk Harbor. Two days ago a Franklin's Gull showed up in Dunkirk Harbor...I couldn't do the drive because of business. Franklins has only been showing up every two or three years lately, so I figured it was time to fly. I got my tickets and was at the airport with my gear for my 8am flight (the earliest I could get)...by 10:30 I was in Dunkirk, at the same spot the gull had been seen. I only had about 3 hours to look, but I figured that if the gull were there it was there and that would be enough time to see it.

The beach where the gull had been seen was covered with gulls, but no Franklins. I scoped the adjascent beach...nothing. I worked the stone breakwater with the scope from several angles, and though there were some Caspian Terns and Great Blue Herons, I couldn't see any hooded gulls. I checked the harbor, where there were a number gulls again, but once more no Franklins. I ran into several other people looking and no one had seen it, and I called some upstate birders who hadn't heard of any sightings that day either. Looked like I missed it.

I finished my allotted time back at the original spot, and had a Bald Eagle soar over and spook off all the birds. That seemed to be my cue, and I was back in NYC by 5:30. I had a business meeting, and got home around 9. Checking my email, I saw a post that in fact the Franklins had been seen, both in the early morning and again at 5pm. If I had just had a little more time, I would have seen it for sure. There have been no reports of it so far today, so now it may really be gone. So in short, my first silver bullet was a miss.

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