Black Guillemot, Cepphus grylle, Cayuga Lake, Aurora, Cayuga Co., NY, 30 October 2004.
All pictures were taken by my son Jay and me and are © Kevin J. McGowan. Stills were taken with an Olympus D-40 digital camera through a Swarovski ATS-80 spotting scope. The video captures were taken with a Sony TRV830 video camera through a Swarovski HD-80.
Found at Myers Point, Tompkins Co. on 23 October 2004 by Paul Hurtado, the winter plumaged Black Guillemot was a nearly unbelievable addition to the Cayuga Lake Basin checklist. It was not found again the first weekend after the first sighting, but was relocated at Aurora, tentatively by Carol Schmitt on Wednesday, 27 October, and then definitively by Mike Harvey and Tim Lenz on 30 October. A number of people were able to see it on 30 October.
The bird showed dark in the white wing patches, and as can be seen by some of the video captures, the dark consisted of two black lines, thickest on the ventral side. We did not see the bird flap its wings, but at least three other observers commented on the white-and-black underside of the wings that would confirm Black Guillemot and rule out Pigeon Guillemot.
Not very noticeable during the observations, but quite apparent from the photographs was the fact that the bird held its wingtips up above the back, forming two small triangular sails. The last photo of the bird facing away and looking down into the water shows this character very well.
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