[CT Birds] Great Backyard Bird Count Day 1 and gull pix.

Comins, Patrick PCOMINS at audubon.org
Fri Feb 15 21:15:29 EST 2013

Thanks to everyone who has gone out birding and entered their data today.  So far we are up to 103 species for the count.  A great start!

Some of the highlights include:
10 Common Eiders
American Woodcock
Iceland, Lesser Black-backed and Bonaparte's Gulls
Northern Saw-What Owl
8 Red-breasted Nuthatches
Gray Catbird
American Pipit
Snow Bunting
Eastern Towhee
5 Vesper Sparrows (Mackenzie Reservoir)
Fox Sparrow
Rusty Blackbird
the Bullock's Oriole (new species for the count!)
2 Purple Finches
2 Red Crossbills
8 White-winged Crossbills (including one at a feeder and another pending report at a feeder)
30 Common Redpolls (so far) and
24 Pine Siskins

The data summary for the count isn't working yet, so I can't easily break those down by town.

I didn't submit the gull (seen by me, Keith Mueller and Jan Collins) as Yellow-legged Gull and it may forever remain a mystery, despite some pretty decent photos.  2nd cycle gulls are just too tough.

I don't think it was a hybrid lesserXherring because it was such a big bruiser, but you never know I guess.

It first struck me as a Great Black-backed Gull (briefly) then Lesser Black-backed (briefly) then "what the heck is that"   The combination of a nearly all black bill (faded at the base on one side) and overall black and white plumage pattern with little brown is what struck me as odd for a second cycle bird.  The bird seemed to be rather long-winged compared with Herring Gulls.  Then it flew, and the tail pattern was pretty consistent with photos I've seen of Yellow-legged Gull (black band over most of the tail, wider than GbbG, but narrower than LbbG), with barring on the white bases of the tail feathers.  All contrasting with the white rump.  Also, in the field and photos, the inner primary windows appeared much reduced from typical Herring Gull.   The inner greater coverts too pale for Lesser Black-backed.  In flight the upperwings looked fairly uniform, but contrasting blacker primaries and outer greater coverts.  In good light, small inner primary windows were apparent.   At rest, the bird also struck me as having the "dendroica" flank stripes of a Lesser or Yellow-legged and most of the dark on the head was concentrated around the eye.

But they say a picture is worth a 1000 words, so here are a bunch of photos by Keith Mueller and me. (this should work whether or not you have a Facebook account and hopefully it goes to the right photo to start)

Thank you to Greg Hanisek who is co-compiling with me this year!


Patrick M. Comins
Director of Bird Conservation

Audubon Connecticut
185 East Flat Hill Road
Southbury, CT 06488

Phone: (203)264-5098 x308

Fax: (203)264-6332

pcomins at audubon.org
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