Deer Creek Reservoir in Fayette County, Ohio, where beautiful little Deer Creek begins to become impounded by the big dam some distance to the south. Bob Royse found a Black-legged Kittiwake here on November 26, and the wayward gull is still sticking. I was finally able to run down there this morning and ogle the animal. The light never was great - the end of the day would be a much better time to shoot images from this spot - but I did what I could to record the rarity. But mostly I just watched the highly entertaining bird, for nearly three hours.
As are nearly all Ohio records of Black-legged Kittiwake, this individual is a first-year (first-cycle for some of you) bird, born this summer somewhere in the far north. Young kittiwakes are more striking and conspicuous, and easier to identify, than are the adults.
Black-legged Kittiwakes breed in the far north, from about the latitude of southern Alaska to points north. They are normally birds of the oceans, breeding along sea cliffs and wintering at sea. Small numbers, nearly all juveniles, do make "wrong turns" and end up inland, as this bird did. A smattering of the population migrates through the Great Lakes, and most of our kittiwake records come from Lake Erie. Birds well inland from our Great Lake are rare indeed, hence the exceptional nature of Bob Royse's find.
It would be very interesting to know where the Deer Creek kittiwake originated. To be sure, it was spawned in a situation similar to the photo above, quite possibly along the Arctic Ocean of eastern Canada. Our rare visitor has probably traveled at least 1,500 miles from the north to thrill birders here in central Ohio.