HALIFAX – A Nova Scotia ornithologist recently made an exciting discovery in a New Glasgow parking lot.
On Monday, Angela MacDonald went about her business like any other day. As she walked through the parking lot of a mall, she was looking for a Mew Gull (aka a common seagull), a species seen in the lot a few days earlier.
However, one of the birds she spotted was not like the others.
“I noticed this seagull that didn’t match the bill of any other seagull I had seen before,” MacDonald says. “I just knew something was different. ”
By taking videos and photos of this strange bird, MacDonald captured the unique characteristics of the seagull.
“Right away I noticed his legs,” MacDonald says. “They had a leg color that I had never seen before in a gull; they were a little yellowish orange. They really stood out; the legs were really long. ”
After the sighting, MacDonald sent his images and photos to other bird enthusiasts. She also realized that the coat on the gull’s back was a darker gray than is typical for herring gulls across the province, and it was also lighter than a large black-backed gull. Another tip was the dark eyes of the bird.
“All of these things stood out for me and prompted me to further my research,” says MacDonald, who posted photos of his discovery to the North American Gulls Facebook group, hoping for a response.
Experts have weighed their assumptions, with some suggesting the bird was a hybrid. However, it is thought to have been a Taimyr Gull – usually found in the East Asian region of Siberia.
“I’ve never heard of it before, so I quickly searched for it on Google,” says MacDonald. “The next morning I woke up and someone said ‘yes this seagull looks good for a Taimyr Gull.’ ”
MacDonald’s joy at his discovery continued throughout the week.
“I’m delighted that so many of my friends from the birding community came to see it,” MacDonald says. “It’s just a really cool feeling. ”
On Saturday, with the news of the sighting, many people came from near and far to spot the rare seagull. However, they were disappointed because it was nowhere to be found.
Considering herself lucky to have witnessed the Taimyr Gull, MacDonald says it remains a mystery why an East Asian bird ends up in a Nova Scotia parking lot.
“Did he fly here?” Did he come on a container ship? Who knows. MacDonald said. “And the seagulls don’t know that either. ”