Rare Bird Alert: July 13, 2012
by Nate Swick
The uncomfortable heat wave that gripped much of the eastern 3/5ths of North America broke this week, bringing cooler weather and rain where there was recently only oppressive heat. Mid-summer birding continues to wane, however, but the trend in vagrancy this week is definitely one of southern invasions, birds from parts south showing up in part north. Perhaps a sign of things to come as the summer wears on.
But first, a milely belated state first. A pelagic out of South Carolina (the same trip that found SC's first Fea's Petrel) came across a juvenile skua that was initially identified as the expected South Polar Skua, but upon closer examination and discussion looks a great deal like the state's first Great Skua (ABA Code 3) a record notable not only for that, but for the fact that it's the first record south of North Carolina and among the most southerly (if not the most) records for this species.
The greates confluence of ABA rarities probably comes from Alaska, where both a Northern Hobby (4) was briefly seen near Barrow, and a Black-tailed Gull (4, photo at left) was photographed on Adak.
Exciting for Washington is a Painted Bunting in Okanogon.
It's been an exceptional year for Ruff (3) in North America, one of many this week is at Fern Ridge Reservoir in Lane, Oregon.
The second Little Stint (4) in as many weeks on the continent was on in Del Norte, California.
Two Plain-capped Starthroats (4) made brief appearances in Arizona this week, both in Cochise County. One at Cave Creek Canyon and the second at Carr Canyon.
There was some great birding in Texas this week, highlighted by an apparent White-collared Swift (4), seen briefly and not again in Galveston. Also in the state, both a Brown Booby (3) at Lake Sam Rayburn in Angelina, and a Masked Booby (3) at Boca Chica in Cameron.
A trio of Wood Storks at Swan Lake NWR, in Chariton, Missouri, is the 6th incidence of the species in the state.
Notable for the midwest is a Lazuli Bunting singing as if on territory in Appanoose, Iowa.
ABA Blog contributor Lynn Barber was the one to discover a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher in Pennington, South Dakota.
practically annual anymore in the upper Midwest is a Common Gallinule in Wright, Minnesota.
Yet another Ruff (3) has made it's way across the pond, this time turning up in Monroe, Michigan.
Newfoundland's fifth ever Royal Tern was found this week near Avalon.
The above bird was joined in the New England/Atlantic Canada region by additional Royal Terns in Stratford, Connecticut, and Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts.
A Western Kingbird, a bit early for wanderers to the east, was reported from Milford, Delaware.
And in North Carolina, a Ruff (3) bearing a striking resemblance to one seen last week in Queens, New York, was photographed in Carteret.
Readers should note that none of these reports has yet been vetted by a records committee. All birders are urged to submit documentation of rare sightings to the appropriate state or provincial committees. For full analysis of these and other bird observations, subscribe to North American Birds <aba.org/nab>, the richly illustrated journal of ornithological record published by the ABA. Place names written in italics refer to counties/parishes/districts.