On 20 December an ABA Code-3 Ross's Gull (Rhodostethia rosea) was photographed on Palmer Lake, 6 miles south of the U.S./Canada border in Okanogan County, Washington, by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist Jeff Heinlen. If accepted by the Washington Records Committee, this would become the second state record. The first sighting of this rare gull in Washington was from late November and early December 1994. In a local interview Jeff said “this is like a holiday present for bird watchers."
The first Ross's Gull in temperate North America was at Clover Point in Victoria, British Columbia, in October and November 1966. Heinlen's Ross’s Gull photograph can be viewed at:
In addition to its better known northeastern Siberian breeding grounds, Ross’s Gull also breeds in Hudson Bay, Cheyne Islands, Nunavut, and also in west-central and northern Greenland. Ross’s Gulls from northeastern Siberia follow a predictable post-breeding dispersal, leaving breeding grounds in July through August, moving east to the Chukchi Sea and continuing east in the western Beaufort Sea in late September and early October where they can sometimes be seen in the hundreds at Barrow, Alaska (pers. obs.). During this time period the population estimate in northern Alaska waters is 20,000−40,000 birds (Gulls of the Americas, Howell and Dunn). In mid- to late October they return west to the Chukchi Sea and eventually move south in the northwest Bering Sea for the winter.