At first the sun reflecting off of the water made it difficult for me to distinguish the black-tailed from the others while they were in flight.
But after a while he settled down on the water and I got a good look at him.
Pretty soon I got the hang of spotting the black-tailed in the air and I was able to some decent flight shots. Some people where chumming the water to draw the gulls closer to shore. I was not sure how to feel about that. I really dislike feeding wild animals because it tends to make them less wary of people which is dangerous for the animal or in this case the bird. But then I thought of all the feeders that are around and I figured that this was not much different.
The wind coming off of the reservoir was a bit chilly but it did not seem to bother the gulls. It also did not bother the birders too much, or so it seemed, because more and more birders kept showing up. And not just birders from Iowa. While I was there I saw birders from Nebraska and Wisconsin too and that is just a small portion of all of the people who made a long trip to see the rare gull.Even the non-birding press took notice. A local TV station ran a spot on the gull and the Des Moines Register ran a story which you can read here.The reason that this is such a big deal is because this type of gull is native to Japan, China, and other parts of Asia. Other then Alaska where they are occasionally seen, this type of gull has only been seen a few times in the U.S., on the north east coast and the Great Lakes area. I made the trip because this was not only a lifer for me but this may the only chance that I have to see this type of bird, since I do not see a trip to Asia any time soon.