Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull Photos: Clay Sutton

Posted 11/29/09

Cape May, NJ — An early North Pole visitor swooped into Cape May Friday, kicking off the holiday season.

To a casual onlooker, it was just another gull flying around the Lobster House docks. But birders who shivered in the cold to get a glimpse of the unusually white gull knew better.

This very white bird was an unusual Ivory Gull that rarely strays from its icy home near Greenland.

Right now, it should be hunkering down somewhere on sea ice in the Artic winter's darkness.

Instead, this young bird decided to head for a more southern - and sunnier climate.

Cape May was just the spot. Too bad the adventurous gull didn't get here a couple of weeks earlier, when the weather was a bit balmier.

Nonetheless, the Ivory Gull sighting was an unexpected holiday gift to dozens of local birders.

For many veteran birders, including local author Clay Sutton, this was a first time sighting, a "life bird." Sutton snapped the great shots of the Ivory Gull in flight over Cape May harbor.

There are only 2500 Ivory Gulls in the entire Canadian Artic.

Where the rare gull goes next is anyone's guess. Here's hoping he eventually finds his way back home.

Note: See Pat and Clay Sutton's follow up on the Ivory gull.

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