Thanks to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I had no school yesterday (actually, I have no school today too because of the “snow”, so I guess that makes it a four-day weekend), and, of course, what better thing to do during long weekends than go birding?
On Saturday I went out to Montauk Point with a few friends, and despite the relative lack of activity out there, I thought we saw some great stuff. We had close views of many Razorbills sitting on the water at the point, plus 40 thousand scoters of all three species. At Camp Hero, we heard a probable White-winged Crossbill flyover, though we unfortunately couldn’t get eyes on it. At Culloden Point, on the west side of the Lake Montauk inlet, we found a second-cycle Iceland Gull, and at Lazy Point in Napeague, I spotted a young Northern Shrike perched on top of a nearby telephone pole–so I’m not complaining.
A poorly phonescoped image of the Iceland Gull.
Northern Shrike in flight
On Sunday, I couldn’t get out for some really intensive birding, but I did manage to pick up a new bird for my county–Northern Pintail–thanks to eBird!
Northern Pintail--so close, I couldn't fit its tail into the frame!
Then, on Monday, I took a trip down to Veterans Memorial Pier in Brooklyn to try and locate two Black-headed Gulls that have been there for weeks. We arrived relatively early (~8 AM), but there were only a few gulls actually roosting on the pier, and none were the ones we were after. However, there were hundreds of gulls in the water, so we commenced sifting through them, with a very cold wind buffeting us from, it seemed, all angles.
Adult nonbreeding Bonaparte's Gull
There were several Bonaparte’s Gulls around (like the one above), which look similar to Black-headed, but with some key differences. So when Jacob spotted a young Bonaparte’s with an orange-colored bill…it wasn’t a Bonaparte’s! This first-cycle Black-headed Gull gave incredibly close looks.
The Black-headed Gull showing its thicker orangeish-colored bill with a black tip--a key difference from Bonaparte's (above). This individual also has more extensive dark markings on its head than a typical Bonaparte's.
In flight, notice the prominent white wedge in the outer primaries (a FIRST-CYCLE Bonaparte's would show a lot more dark there).
Another view of the Black-headed Gull
There were also a few Purple Sandpipers scattered along the rocks. We took a couple breaks from watching the gulls to snap some photos. They were, interestingly enough, not very skittish.
Purple Sandpiper munching on some plant matter
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