Saturday, November 26, 2016

Always Scan Through Your Birds

     A good rule to helping you find that needle in a haystack of a bird is to scan through groups of birds, you never know who is tossed into the mix of "regulars."I was out with the family yesterday up in Nyack, NY where we went out to a park to get us outside and out of the house. We visited Memorial Park to get views of the Tappan-Zee Bridge, but parked in the marina lot across from the actual park.
     I left my bird stuff in the car, but had to run back and grab it as I was checking out a large group of ring-billed gulls perched on pilings and swimming in the water and one looked a tad bit larger and seemed to be lacking the usual markings of a ring-billed gull.
     With my binoculars, I could see that we had a "white-winged" gull on our hands, with a smaller bill and not much larger than the ring-billed (and comparison to photos in my birding apps that I have), I identified this bird as an Iceland Gull...
A first winter ring-billed gull up front, and two non-breeding adult ring-billed gulls in the back, but note how the one in the middle is a tad larger with no black markings on its feathers, that's the Iceland gull, in it's first year plumage.
It was very exciting to find and identify this bird on my own. Normally I have gone out to seek these birds after they are reported, but seeing this bird was a great reminder of why I enjoy birding. There is something very rewarding about finding and making an identification on your own with a bird you do not see super often.
It was also really fun to show this bird to my nieces who were with us. I think they had a lot of fun just peering through a pair of binoculars and seeing things close-up.
This bird came up to the shore in front of us for a little bit before going to join the flock of ring-billed gulls as the mobbed the folks ho dump bread off at the park.