There would be nothing too unusual about a Black-legged Kittiwake on Thanksgiving if I were in, say, Michigan or Ohio. However, a Black-legged Kittiwake in the Chukchi Sea in thick ice ~100km from the nearest open water on Thanksgiving is a different story.
While feasting on thanksgiving turkey I got a page from the bridge about a bird that was flying around the spot-lights. Needless to say, I grabbed the bins and rushed up top. Not 2 minutes later the bird flew by again, skimming the edge of the boat right in the lights. An easy ID of Black-legged Kittiwake. I was also surprised it was an adult.
The green arrow on the map below is where the bird was seen:
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As best as I can figure from the ice maps I have access to, this is about 100km from the nearest open water, which was directly to our west. Not sure where this bird came from, but it sure was exciting to see.
I have to imagine that this is a record late date for the Chukchi Sea, and I wouldn't be surprised if it blows the previous record out of the water.
From the limited resources I have available, which is the information from Paul Lehman's records of St. Lawrence Island and surrounding areas, the latest date for Black-legged Kittiwake he reports is November 25, 1937 from Provideniya, Russia, which is just NW of Gambell. However, the Chukchi Sea area is much further North (500 miles?).
I will work on getting more information, and I know it is only a Black-legged Kittiwake, but after a week of darkness and no birds, this was exactly what I needed.
Will update when I know more.