/Rare bird typically found in Siberia, eastern Asia possibly spotted in New Glasgow | CBC News

Rare bird typically found in Siberia, eastern Asia possibly spotted in New Glasgow | CBC News

A rare bird, typically found in Siberia and eastern Asia, was possibly spotted in Nova Scotia last week.

Avid birder Angela MacDonald saw what she thinks is a Taimyr gull, otherwise known as the Siberian gull, in a New Glasgow parking lot last Monday. 

MacDonald said she didn’t know what a Taimyr gull was at the time, but it was unlike any gull she had seen before. Surprised by the potential discovery, she snapped some photos.

“It hasn’t been completely confirmed yet, but as per records, it looks like this is the first Taimyr gull for all of Canada and it is a second record for this whole continent,” MacDonald said, who has been birding for three years.

“I think you probably have a better chance of seeing a flamingo on your lawn than seeing a Taimyr gull.”

MacDonald said she noticed a few things that were different about this gull. 

Its long legs were a bright orangey red, which she had never seen before, and the mantle — the top of the wings — was a dark grey that didn’t match herring gulls or black back gulls typically found in Nova Scotia.

“I knew something was off. So I thought, this gull needs to be looked at further,” she said.

She contacted her friend, Steven McGrath, who agreed the gull needed to be looked at by experts. He suggested she post the photos to a Facebook group called North American Gulls.

There, the group of gull experts weighed in on what they thought the gull could be.

“As soon as I saw it, I knew it was something completely different from the sort of gulls that we normally get in Nova Scotia,” said Mark Dennis, a naturalist and gull expert who has been birding since 1966.

When he saw MacDonald’s photo, he turned to his wife and said, “Start the car.”

The next day, they travelled four hours from their home on Cape Sable Island to the New Glasgow parking lot in hopes of seeing the gull in person.

Armed with cat food to attract the gulls, Dennis was able to see the bird within seconds of arriving.

Dennis believes he has seen this type of gull before — while travelling in India in 1997.

Now, he believes the same type of gull has travelled about 6,000 kilometres from its home breeding destination.

“They will wander and then spend time in an area and instead of turning around and going home, they wander with another bunch of gulls … and suddenly they find themselves in Nova Scotia eating KFC fries in the parking lot in New Glasgow,” he said.

He said he’s confident the bird is a Taimyr gull.

“I take the approach that if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck,” he said.

MacDonald, who is part of the Nova Scotia Bird Society, said she was able to get a fecal sample from the gull which was sent away for DNA analysis to confirm its identity in the coming weeks.

The birder said she’s still in shock of what she saw and she hopes the potentially rare sighting will encourage people to treat gulls with respect.

She has returned to the parking lot to see the gull multiple times, and each time she has witnessed vehicles drive through the resting gulls.

“That’s very unnecessary. They’re individuals. They’re struggling to survive. Just leave them alone. If you don’t like them, it doesn’t matter, just don’t hurt them,” she said.

“If I get even one person to look at gulls differently — to me, finding the Taimyr gull will have served its purpose.”