*MEGA* Elegant Tern in Buffalo

Steve BrennerBirding, Rarities1 Comment

Well, Christmas came early this year for Western New York. Almost instantly after I post about the early influx of awesome gulls into our fair city, then by golly an ELEGANT TERN decides to show up along the Niagara River. First spotted by Vicki Rothman and later confirmed by Jim Pawlicki on the 20th off of Beaver Island State Park, the elegant tern provided a merry (or just plain frustrating) chase for area birds late Wednesday afternoon. I was fortunate enough to watch the bird for its last known appearance on that day with about five other birders around 2:40 at Beaver Island SP, and then waited with another 20 or so birders as the tern was a no show.

Fortunately, the rarity was re-found today a little further up river around Rich Marina, loafing at the end of Squaw Island with a company of Bonaparte’s Gulls and a few very late Common Terns. Many birders got great looks at it today, and this bird will certainly provide one heck of a sighting for the record books. Elegant Terns are remarkably rare on the east coast (see ebird range map), and downright preposterous inland on freshwater. Hopefully this industrious bird can withstand the upcoming cold weather/storms that are set to move into the area by the weekend and provide many more birders a chance to check out this awesome rarity. Many thanks to Jim Pawlicki for providing this excellent photograph of the Buffalo Elegant Tern for this blog.

Elegant Tern - Squaw Island 11/12/13 (photo by Jim Pawlicki)

Buffalo Elegant Tern – Squaw Island 11/21/13 (photo by Jim Pawlicki)

A much poorer photograph on the Elegant Tern with his new friends - Squaw Island Park 11/21/13 (photo by Steve Brenner)

A much poorer photograph on the Elegant Tern with his new friends – Squaw Island Park 11/21/13 (photo by Steve Brenner)

A late Common Tern, overshadowed by the presence of his long-lost cousin Elegant Tern - Squaw Island Park 11/21/13

A late Common Tern, whose significance is overshadowed by the presence of his long-lost cousin – Squaw Island Park 11/21/13 (photo by Steve Brenner)

If you do end up chasing this bird, keep an eye on the GeneseeBirds listserv for local information and also keep an eye on bonie flocks along the river near Rich Marina if the bird goes missing from Squaw Island. You never know where this bird could ‘tern’ up……