Ivory Gull! Canal Park in Duluth Minnesota 1-3-15

In January of 2015, an adult Ivory Gull was reported in Quincy, Illinois. I hedged at going due to 316 miles I would have to travel one way.  I finally decided to make the trip on a Saturday but the bird disappeared on Friday. I vowed that if another opportunity presented itself, I would not miss it.

Fast forward to January, 2016 at canal Park in Duluth, Minnesota. A first year Ivory Gull was reported! I had just returned from my trip to Texas and was recuperating before I had to return to work and did not make the trip that first Saturday. As I kept thinking about it all day I made the decision to make the trip to Duluth and back on Sunday in the hopes of seeing the Ivory Gull and a juvenile Gyrfalcon that was across the bay in Superior, Wisconsin. Both birds being denizens of the far north.

The Ivory Gull is actually a bird that inhabits the pack ice at the top of the world and makes it living following Polar Bears and seals around scavenging scraps of whatever they can get.

It was up at 3:00 a.m. and on the road before 4. We arrived in Duluth at 8:15 a.m. I got out of the car and made my way across the very icy and treacherous ground to the canal and the first bird I saw was a noticeably small white gull Ivory Gull! This bird treated me and many other birders with some incredible aerial maneuvering over the next couple of hours as it soared and dived and eluded much larger and aggressive Herring Gulls which it evaded with apparent ease.

At this point, I rank this as my number 1 life bird ever! A fantastic find! Of course, the Duluth Superior area is always a place I love visiting so I had no problem making the 700 mile round trip for this opportunity.

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Despite having feet well equipped for surviving on pack ice, it was very slippery at Canal park and even the Ivory Gull slipped at times.
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Ivory Gull playing king of the hill on an ice covered rock
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This bird had some real personality 
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When in flight, the gull had striking markings
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Not quite Salmon but it didn’t seem to mind!
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Skin and all!
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What a beautifully patterned bird!
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Ice everywhere
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Coming in for another helping of fish
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And again!

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Another great look at its simple beauty
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Another view

Ivory Gull-Gyrfalcon 1-3-16-14

And another…

While the Ivory Gull was the main draw, Canal Park is always good for some nice gulls and other birds. The following pictures are of Thayer’s Gulls which at any other time would have been the main attraction!

Ivory Gull-Gyrfalcon 1-3-16-21Ivory Gull-Gyrfalcon 1-3-16Ivory Gull-Gyrfalcon 1-3-16-28Ivory Gull-Gyrfalcon 1-3-16-15

Then there were the large and beautifully white Glaucous Gulls.

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Glaucous Gull

After I had satisfied my  Ivory Gull craving, i made the quick jaunt over the bridge to Superior to look for the Gyrfalcon and was thrilled to get an incredible aerial show as this bird alternately effortlessly harassed pigeons and chased larger birds such as Ravens and Bald Eagles out of its territory.

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An incredibly swift bird despite its much bulkier size as compared to the Peregrine  
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Soaring much faster then other birds can fly at full speed
Taking umbrage to the Common Raven encroaching on its territory

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This scene reminded e of a fighter jet escorting an airliner out of restricted airspace. This falcon was the most mobile thing in the sky at that time.

What a way to begin the year! Two rare life birds to bring me to 392 life U.S. birds!

4 thoughts on “Ivory Gull! Canal Park in Duluth Minnesota 1-3-15

  1. Jeff, These are awesome photos. I wasn’t familiar with the Ivory Gull..what a striking bird. Sure was worth the drive and time! I so appreciate all the photos and your passion!


  2. Hi Jeff..wonderful pictures..what an achievement! Lucky that you can do all that traveling and tracking. Hope all is well in Madison. Hi to Narda and boys. All are ok here and hope to stay that way over the wintery weather. Love to all,Mom


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