Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Yellow-legged Gull Bagged

I met my latest visiting birder at his hotel this morning just before sunrise. We headed to Quidi Vidi Lake to spend some time looking around and to makes plans for the day. We decided we would bird north of the city,try some areas that have not been birder recently,or at all this year, in search of Euro strays. Our focus was on checking wet areas,run offs etc for Old World Snipes and Woodcock and anything else that might have strayed to the province during this unprecedented "cold weather movement" of European birds.

We checked many suitable areas and came up empty. We did find 4 White-winged Crossbills,which are extremely hard to find this winter and represented just my second sighting of this species in many months. The highlight of the day though, was stunningly,superb views of Yellow-legged Gull.

Many birders visit Newfoundland each year in search of Yellow-legged Gulls- some see it and some don't. Things get exponentially more difficult when Quidi Vidi Lake isn't frozen because large concentrations can be tough to come by. Local birder Jared Clarke had spend the previous three days scouring the city for YLGU for two visiting birders he was guiding. When the phone rang this morning as were watching Black Guillemots in Torbay,I was immediately excited and even more so when I saw it was Jared's number on the phone. This could only mean one thing a rare bird! Jared had located a YLGU and was watching it at close range sitting on a dock with some Herring and Great-Black-backed Gulls. We got there and found the bird within about a minute. We stayed and enjoyed phenomenal views from a about 30 ft for over an hour. At one point we had our scopes on this bird and were viewing it at 60X from 30 feet that essentially have us "in hand" views of the bird. it is amazing the detail one can see when you see a bird at such close range. Every detail of the eye and orbital ring was apparent- simply amazing. I've said this before,but eventhoguh I've seen YLGU a 100 times,every time is special and it was tough to leave it even after an hour.

Tomorrow we will be birding the southern Avalon Peninsula in search of sea ducks and any Euro strays that might be gracing our shores.I have a feeling we might just bump into something good!Stay tuned!!!

Dave Brown

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