Friday, January 03, 2014

Ivory Gull and Snowy Owl visiting Hanstholm, North Jutland

See new photos 2013-2014 of the Ivory Gull at Hanstholm, North Jutland

Ivory Gull, Pagophila eburnea, (wikipedia)
It is possible to see some rare Arctic birds at Hanstholm in North Jutland in these days, among those a young Ivory Gull which usually breeds in northeast Greenland , northernmost North America and Eurasia. This High Arctic gull  prefers usually to stay in the high North during winter where it forages on small fish and seal carrions, which it locates by following the polar bear. Even the northern part of Norway and Iceland is a southern section for the Ivory Gull, and the bird is not seen there on a yearly basis, neither during winter.

Snowy Owl, (wikipedia).
At Hanstholm is another rare bird right now, a young snowy owl, which probably comes from the Sibirian tundra. The snowy owl is a nomad, and it is roaming around in the hunt for food. In winter and early spring it happens to be straying into Denmark, but there are years between.  

Ivory Gull (wikipedia)

It is the eighth time the Ivory Gull is seen in Denmark, and it is a rare event. Once in 2006 it was seen at Langø havn at Lolland on 29 December, and this event brought hundreds of tourist to the small town. This is also happening now at Hanstholm in North Jutland in December and January 2013-2014. Birdwatchers come from all over the country. Today it is easy for them to communicate with their mobile phones: "Where is it now?" and then they are all gathering in a group with cameras and binoculars to watch this little white bird, which don't understand a word of all this attention!

Ivory Gull wintering in Bering Sea, (wikipedia).

 Ivory Gull/ Pagophila eburnea ( Danish name : Ismåge)

The scientific names eburnea and Pagophila mean ivory-coloured and "lover of sea ice" from the Latin ebur for ivory and the Greek pagos for sea-ice respectively. The ivory gull has no sub-species, and no fossil members of this genus are known.

This species is easy to identify. At 43 centimetres (17 in), it has a different, more pigeon-like shape than the Larus gulls, but the adult has completely white plumage, lacking the grey back of other gulls. The thick bill is blue with a yellow tip, and the legs are black. Its cry is a harsh eeeer. Young birds have a dusky face and variable amounts of black flecking in the wings and tail. The juveniles take two years to attain full adult plumage. There are no differences in appearance across the species’ geographic range.

During the winter, Ivory Gulls live near polynyas, or a large area of open water surrounded by sea ice. North American birds, along with some from Greenland and Europe, winter along the 2000 km of ice edge stretching between 50° and 64° N from the Labrador Sea to Davis Strait that is bordered by Labrador and  southwestern Greenland. Wintering gulls are often seen on the eastern coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador and occasionally appear on the north shore of the Gulf of st Lawrence and the interior of Labrador. It also winters from October through June in the Bering Sea and Chukchi Seas. It is most widespread throughout the polynyas and pack ice of the Bering Sea. It is also vagrant throughout coastal Canada and the northeastern United States, though records of individuals as far south as California and Georgia have been reported, as well as The Brisith Isles, with most records from late November through early March. Juveniles tend to wander further from the Arctic than adults.
Pack Ice, see bird in right corner (wikipedia) 
It migrates only short distances south in autumn, most of the population wintering in northern latitudes at the edge of the pack ice, although some birds reach more temperate areas.
It takes fish and crustaceans, rodents, eggs and small chicks but is also an opportunist scavenger, often found on seal or porpoise corpses. It has been known to follow polar bears and other predators to feed on the remains of their kills.
Ivory Gull breeds on Arctic coasts and cliffs, laying one to three olive eggs in a ground nest lined with  moss, lichens, or seaweed.


Out on the prairie said...

Get a few of the owls down here but they are juveniles with a high mortality rate to return home. Very nice birds.

Teresa Evangeline said...

It's Wednesday morning here and you crossed my mind so strongly I wanted to immediately say hello and let you know I'm thinking of you. These birds are so beautiful, and isn't it a beautiful world? I just Love your header image ... the colors among the boats are lovely.

I hope you are well ...
Buddy is sleeping soundly at my feet, but if he knew I was writing you he'd say hello. I hope your day is a very good one.
Warm hugs,

Thyra said...

Hej Steve, I'm sorry to hear that. They are so pretty.
Sorry I'm so late to give a respose.
Grethe ´)

Thyra said...

Hello Teresa, it is so lovely to see you here. I have thought about you and the situation about the extreme cold and frost in the USA, which we have been talking much about here in DK. I guess Minnesota is one of the states where the situation is bad. Now I'm suddenly in doubt if you live in Montana or Minnesota! But both states have a hard winter?

You are so right, but it is good to hear someone say it. It IS a wonderful world. I also love the colours in a harbour like this. There is an article on Thyra about Gilleleje harbour with more photos from that sunset-evening. ( from August 2010)Feel free to use them if you want.

Hello sweet Buddy!

Give him some nosehugs for taking so good care of Mom!

Grethe ´)

Teresa Evangeline said...

Thank you, dear Grethe ... yes, it is Minnesota. :)