Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Two On Tuesday, But Will It Be A Mewsing?

No time for a more ambitious day of birding, I set off for Brooklyn in hopes of plugging a few holes in my year list. Most desired was Mew Gull, but reports of Glaucous lured me as well.

The later has been a bit frustrating; one present at Shinnecock before the new year was quite reliable. That is, until the new year dawned and it was hit or miss. Guess which one applied to me to date. I have checked for it oh so many times; fortunately I like to bird Shinnecock a lot, excellent place that it is.

Phil Jabiru stopped by to pick me up in the morning and we set off for Gravesend Bay. I touched base with Capt’n Bob, and he planned to meet us there, that is weather and traffic permitting. The day started off raining, but as we headed west it tapered off to a drizzle. The traffic on the other hand, worsened.

About the time we got to the eastern edge of Brooklyn, Bob called to tell us he had a large all white bird staked out in the lot at Caesar’s Bay shopping center. Great I said. But Bob told us he was doing his best to keep people from walking or driving through the flock of resting gulls. We hoped to make it there before it was flushed.

After dodging volume, rubbernecking, and construction delays, we approached Bay Parkway. Bob called again to tell us to look to our left as we drove down the road. Good advice, as we were able to get a clear look at a nice immature Glaucous Gull standing in the lot. YB1. Nothing beats a retired cop guarding a bird for you!

Imm. Glaucous Gull

We continued into the lot and over to Bob, and proceeded to take some photos of the cooperative bird. All white, it is one of my favorite gulls, but in breeding plumage even the lowly and despised Herring Gull is a looker.

Timing and luck count. Within a few minutes of our arrival and papparazzoing, the whole flock lifted off and flew away. Phew!

We walked over to the waters edge, and perused the birds thereabouts. As expected, many Ring-billed Gulls in various age plumage were all about. There were a lot of water fowl as well, and close in to shore too.  Unfortunately, the bay was also full of a lot of horrid flotsam and it was sad and pathetic to see.

Bob graciously decided to drive his car to the furthest lot west of us, and meet us there, while Phil and I continued west. This meant we would not have to walk all the way back. Along the way Bufflehead,  gulls and Black Duck were cooperative photographic subjects.

Black duck

One of the gulls had me puzzled though. It appeared to be a first winter Ring-billed Gull, but everything about it was distinctly larger than the adults next to it. Try as I might to determine if it was something else, I could not. Perhaps someone more knowledgeable than I will assist if it is in fact something else.

The immature bird at the left-rear side was much larger than the adult bird. .... Is it just an unusually large immature RBGU?

Also found along the way by Phil was a Purple Sandpiper, the first of what would be nine by the time we reached the end. Another nice sighting was a Bonaparte’s Gull, two more year birds for Phil. Interestingly, we did not see a Great Black-backed Gull!

Purple Sandpiper

Nor did we see a Mew Gull. Back in 2010 one was found in essentially the same place, and was really reliable and easy to find. Back then I met Bob and we walked over the foot bridge by Bay 16th Street but before we got off of it we already spotted the bird. Not so for either of the apparently two different birds found once again by the same person as the first one in 2010. Some call him the gull whisperer, I've called him a mewtant, but either way we should say Danke Shane. I have thoughts of returning for another attempt but with a bicycle so that the area can be more thoroughly and easily covered.

Back at Phil’s car, we decided to try for some more Brooklyn stuff with our remaining time. We followed Bob to Monk Parakeets for YB2. Both Phil and I had tried some places in Nassau and Suffolk for the 'keets, but neither of us had success until these perennially reliable birds.

Our final stop was at Prospect Park. European Goldfinch had been reported, and what the heck, not countable, but it would have been a nice bird nevertheless. We didn’t find it, but our day was pretty successful any way you slice it.

No comments: