On my SFO trip to Dryden Lake this morning Jason Huck found 2 winter plumage BONAPARTE'S GULLS on the edge of the ice which still covers the middle half of the lake. Later I told Susan Danskin about them, and she went in search of them. She did not find the gulls, but at the pond along NYS-38 closer to the Village of Dryden ("the one with dead trees where there's never any birds") she found a breeding plumage COMMON TERN as well as a pair of RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, and an OSPREY. Unbeknownst to us Nita Irby had seen possibly the same COMMON TERN this morning at Dryden Lake about an hour before my group arrived. Since this species had not been previously reported for the Cayuga Lake Basin this year, Susan asked me if she should send out a rare bird alert. I replied that the species not really rare, just first and a bit early, but the scale to use is the amount of adrenaline it provokes. Susan is pretty even-keeled; she did not send out an RBA. I, on the other hand, succumbed to temptation and returned to Desolate Pond in Dryden, where I was so pleased to see those birds that I wished other birders could have such an uncommonly good look at an uncommon Common Tern flying around over a fairly small body of water and posing for scope views on the branch of a fallen dead tree. So, rationalizing that one criterion for an RBA is that others are apt to refind the bird (there it still was, an hour after Susan's call, so why wouldn't it wait for other birders?) I sent out an RBA. The tern promptly took flight and flew out of view to the northwest.
--Dave Nutter
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