Saturday, January 14, 2012

Gulls in PA

Falls Twp Community Park (PA) has emerged as a pretty good place to look for gulls in winter and superceded Florence (NJ) as the best place to find interesting species. They both sample the greater Tullytown landfill flock. Diversity is low: Canada Goose, Starling and a fly-over Red-tailed Hawk were the only other birds. (I saw a Cooper's Hawk over Trenton on the way back home attempting to pick Starlings out of the air with no success). The weather was appropriately cold with a north wind but the lake wasn't iced over yet.

In the smaller of the two flocks in the park I found a single immature Iceland Gull - a nice cafe-au-lait colored first winter bird with a rounded head and black bill. Eventually that flock took flight and joined the largest flock. What was surprising about this first flock was the absence of Lesser Black-backed Gulls - normally they're simple to find and the first of the rarer gulls I put my eyes on.

In the second flock I did find Lesser Black-backed Gulls (I came up with a total of 4 or 5, all adults) and then while looking for the Iceland I found a first winter Glaucous Gull sitting on the grass. It was the same color as the Iceland but was huge with a bi-colored bill. Quite an attractive gull when it got up and walked around. Finally, just before the flock was flushed by a dog walker, I found one and then a second Iceland Gull, making the proportions more typical for a PA/NJ winter gull flock (LBB: 5; Iceland: 2; Glaucous: 1).

Later in the day I went to the boat ramp in Edison and found another Glaucous Gull immature - a relatively tame one. This is probably the first time I've ever seen two Glaucous in different locations in one day, given that they are borderline rare in NJ.

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