Rare Swallow-tailed gull on Richmond Beach waterfront

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Looking for Swallow-tailed gulls at Kayu Kayu Ac park
Photo by Lien Tisdale Titus

Birders have gathered along the waterfront in Richmond Beach to get a sighting of the Swallow-tailed gull, Creagrus furcatus.

Next sighting from Richmond Beach Drive
Photo by Lien Tisdale Titus

The gull is native to the Galapagos Islands off the western coast of South America. They feed on small squid.

Birders in this area believe that it hitched a ride on a oceanic ship, at this point type (commercial or cruise) unknown.

There are several pictures on Tweeter.  My understanding is that it has a forked tail like some swallows have, its wing tips are black, and that its flight looks different from other local gulls.
People are being asked not to crowd it, as it will have a very long flight back to the Galapagos.
Last known locations
Photo by Lien Tisdale Titus

It was first seen on the beach at Carkeek Park on Thursday. It has been driving "chasers" (birders that will travel long distances to find a specific unusual bird) crazy, as it has been going from Carkeek up to Edmonds and out over the water, prompting several people to talk about hiring a boat.

Our first local sighting was at Kayu Kayu Ac Park, then Richmond Beach Drive, then at the asphalt plant.

There were several cameras in evidence, so someone may have gotten a good shot.

Wikipedia has a small photo gallery - click on the image to see the bird in flight with its distinctive swallow tail.

Updated 9-3-17 6:30pm


Winston Rockwell September 5, 2017 at 8:54 PM  

This bird is not only exceedingly rare in this hemisphere (the only other two sightings in North America occurred in California in the 1980s), it is also the only gull that feeds exclusively at night. A very unique bird indeed! To be honest, I'm not sure it will be able to get back to the Galapagos. The bird is able to travel that far - it spends most of its life over open ocean, and can forage by night and land on water to sleep by day - but I don't know if it has any clue which way "home" is...

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