Sunday, February 19, 2012

White-winged Gulls

Being low-energy on Sunday I confined birding to local spots, which mainly meant Falls Twp Community Park and Trenton-Hamilton Marsh. I went to the marsh looking for Rusty Blackbirds but came up with a pretty normal selection of ducks (Mallard, Am. Black Duck, N. Pintail, A. Wigeon, Gadwall, N. Shoveler, GW Teal, C. Merganser, RN Duck), a Great Blue Heron and virtually no passerines. I did pick up a tick which I found crawling on me while driving. That's one downside to a mild winter...

At Falls Twp park I saw four white-winged gulls on my first visit. I believed these to be four Iceland Gulls but since two were sleeping I wasn't absolutely certain. All appeared to be in first winter plumage. Since the lighting was bad I left for the marsh and didn't return until it started to get sunny towards sunset. It was then that I realized that there were three Icelands and one smaller Glaucous Gull, probably the same birds that I had seen two hours previously. The Glaucous was only a little larger than a Herring Gull and therefore must have been a different one than the massive individual I saw back in January (although both were first winter). Because of a dog walker flushing the flock I saw it and photographed it in flight. Of the three Icelands two were pale but one was much darker, almost close to the tone of some of the paler Herring Gulls (although obviously with pale primaries and a smaller bill). Not bad though: three Icelands and one Glaucous and a few Lesser Black-backed Gulls, and pictures of all the white-winged individuals. A bonus was a fly-over Peregrine Falcon although as usual diversity here is limited.

That actually makes three different Glaucous Gulls in one winter (two at Falls Twp, one in Edison), which is much more than usual - I'm lucky to get just one.

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