Thursday, January 7, 2010

First Lifer of the New Year

I was going to my grandparents house in Pennsylvania on new years day, so of course I was regularly checking the PA Birds listserv to see if I could sneak in a birding trip somewhere. The most promising was an Allen's Hummingbird, a first state record, 30 minutes from where I was staying. Seemed perfect, but the bird left 2 days before I got there.

I needed an alternative. I found two major possibilities- Spotted Towhee at Palymra NJ or Gulls (Lesser BB, Iceland, Glaucous) in Tullytown, PA.

On sunday, the third, after building up my yearlist in my grandparent's backyard and getting one bird I missed all of 2009- carolina chickadee, we had to make a decision. One that was made easier by 2 things- the towhee was only normally seen at dawn and we would be there at 3, and that it was freezing. Really freezing. 25 with 40mph winds. We weren't going to be standing in one spot waiting for the towhee, so the gulls it was.

Getting to the spot 2 hrs later after missing a turn, getting stuck in traffic, and almost giving up, we found the gulls. 1000 of them. As soon as we pulled up, I spotted one darker one- Lesser Black-backed. Life bird! Scanning the flock, I found that there were more. We found 15 in total. And yes, it was cold- to take photos I had to take my glove off, and it was felt like it had frozen solid for the next 15-20 minutes. The photos:

Lots of Gulls (plus my shadow):

A fierce-looking LBBG. One actually grabbed the wingtip of a ring-billed gull and was yanking on it so the other bird would move.
Like I said, a lot of gulls. The number that took off did not even make the flock on the ground look any smaller.
Find the Lesser Black-backed Gulls. How many are there in this photo?

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