Sunday, December 30, 2012

Niagara River on Dec 27, 12

My last hurrah of birding in 2012?!

Here's what I had...

First stop: Adam Beck #1.. .

it was slooow ... and a lot of birds were on the Canadian side making viewing tough... Had 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls (ad, 3rd winter) - which seemed insane. Jim Pawlicki has trained them all to sit on Goat Island in NY, so seeing two here was unusual these days..

Had several Kumlien's Gulls, but little else of note at all...

When an adult Great BB Gull arrived, I couldn't handle all the dark mantles around so I left...

Roosting Rocks - picked up an adult Thayer's-type gull on the rocks.. Maybe one I saw at Adam Beck 5 days earlier... Not perfect, but I'll take it...

Decent numbers roosting, but not much else other than a few Kumlien's Gulls..

I scanned the 25ish Bonaparte's feeding on the river and picked out an adult Little Gull, which was very nice and kinda surprising.

Whirlpool - slowwww ... Scanned the 50-100 Bonapartes at least twice before I left..

Control Gates #1 -  a 3rd winter Lesser Black-back on the wall was the limit of the action... Visibility wasn't great so I couldn't see very far.

Above the falls #1 -  A few Kumlien's, a Lesser BB Gull, yada yada yada... The water was sooper low. Lots of ducks around including several American Wigeon and a female Pintail... Not sure why, but I just couldn't turn up the birds!

Below the falls - picked up my 9th gull species on the day with a juv Glaucous in the gorge. Not much turnover from 5 days ago when I again had 2 Common Loons, Black Scoter, Cormorants etc etc etc ... I'm not sure when I'll finally find an alcid down there, but it sure wasn't this day...

Above the falls #2 - picked out an adult glaucous gull on the way back, and a new Lesser BB gull... By this point (mid aft) the gulls were returning from their inland feeding (landfills)...

Control gates #2 - no news on the gull front here... I don't think I had a hybrid all day! (What is the world coming to?) But I did have some passerines. While I was scanning, I thought I could hear some kinglets... After working the flock - I turned up several Golden-crowns, along with one Ruby-crowned, a Winter Wren, a Brown Creeper - and the usual RB Nut, Downy Wood and  Chickadees. Not a bad haul.

I skipped the roosting rocks on the way back. I usually park in the butterfly centre parking lot, but they were expecting me to pay? wtheck is that?

Adam Beck # 2 - it felt like a lot of the same gulls were around as the first time... Incl the 2 LBBG's.

What I did have, was the same gull I had here back on Dec 22, except this time I had some good prolonged views of it sitting with other gulls.. Here's a mix of pics from Dec 22 and Dec 27:

Bird in Juv plumage. Picked out due to the brown wing tips (not as dark as our Herring Gulls)

Then in flight, it shows a striking Thayer's Gull like wing pattern as well.. 

(white arrow) - Yet it has sort of a messy pattern to the head/neck that I don't really see on Thayer's, and is a pretty sizable bird... 

(Middle) - Unfortunately at Adam beck, good pics aren't an option... But I think I did a decent job of capturing most features... 

Now this is where I'm going to lose just about everyone, but it's actually a pretty fine candidate for juvenile Slaty-backed Gull... Honest ;) .. .I usually enjoy toying with the idea of identifying birds that many don't think is possible.. But it is a really solid candidate and I'm going to keep researching!

I've uploaded more pics here:

I can honestly say I firmly believe it is not a Herring Gull, and see virtually nothing that convinces me that the appearance is due to Glaucous influence.. 

Thayer's Gull is the species I have a hard time eliminating... 

Slaty-backed could maybe fit the mold, but I have no experience with them

And maybe a bird with Glaucous-winged influence needs to be explored, but again, I don't see much to make me think that, but have no experience with them... 

Will update more if I find anything.. Bird seems to like Adam Beck, so maybe it'll stick?


One interesting thing of note with my research is that young SBGU seem to potentially be MORE variable than our young Herring Gulls, so it is almost impossible to find several photos of birds that look somewhat similar... But anyways, here's a few that I found from Japan that are pretty close to the above bird:

Last photo on the above page

Several pics of a similar bird

Top two pics on this page, although the date doesn't match very well (Oct 15 vs late Dec) 

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